Exercise May Improve Sexual Dysfunction Caused by Prostate Cancer Treatment, According to New Study in Australia

For immediate release
July 31, 2023


Savannah Rogers

ASCO Perspective

“Exercise has previously been shown to improve some side effects of prostate cancer treatment. This data extends the benefits of exercise for patients with prostate cancer to also include sexual dysfunction, furthering the importance of physical activity for these patients,” said ASCO Expert Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO.   

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A combination of resistance and aerobic exercise may improve sexual function in patients with prostate cancer according to a new study conducted in Australia. The research will be presented at the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breakthrough Meeting, taking place August 3-5 in Yokohama, Japan.

About the Study

“Sexual dysfunction is a common, distressing, and persistent side effect of prostate cancer treatment. Nearly half of patients with prostate cancer report having unmet sexual health care needs, highlighting the lack of current health care services to adequately address the demand for management of sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment. Our study shows that these patients can immediately benefit from supervised exercise interventions to improve their sexual health and that exercise should be considered as an integral part of treatment for prostate cancer,” said lead study author Daniel Galvao, PhD, from the Exercise Medicine Research Institute at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

In this three-arm study, researchers randomized 112 patients to 6 months of supervised, group-based resistance and aerobic exercise (39 patients); the same exercise program plus psychosexual therapy (36 patients); or usual care (37 patients). Exercise activities took place three days per week and psychosexual therapy consisted of a brief self-management intervention that addressed psychological and sexual wellbeing.

Key Findings

  • Erectile function increased by 5.1 points with exercise and 1 point with usual care while intercourse satisfaction increased by 2.2 points with exercise and 0.2 points with usual care.
  • Self-managed psychosexual therapy did not result in additional improvements.
  • Compared with usual care, exercise prevented an increase in fat mass and improved physical function outcomes, as well as upper and lower body muscle strength.

Next Steps

According to the authors, further research is needed to establish the long-term outcomes of exercise on sexual health in men with prostate cancer.

This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia.

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Founded in 1964, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) is committed to making a world of difference in cancer care. As the world’s leading organization of its kind, ASCO represents more than 45,000 oncology professionals who care for people living with cancer. Through research, education, and promotion of the highest-quality patient care, ASCO works to conquer cancer and create a world where cancer is prevented or cured, and every survivor is healthy. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation. Learn more at www.ASCO.org, explore patient education resources at www.Cancer.Net, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.