Unrecognized sexual dysfunction in gay and bisexual men after prostate cancer treatment: the antecedents and impact of anodyspareunia

Christopher W. Wheldon, Alex J. Bates, Elizabeth J. Polter, B. R.Simon Rosser, Aditya Kapoor, Kristine M.C. Talley, Ryan Haggart, Nidhi Kohli, Badrinath R. Konety, Darryl Mitteldorf, Michael W. Ross, William West, Morgan Wright

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BACKGROUND: Anodyspareunia may be an adverse outcome of prostate cancer (PCa) treatment for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBM). AIM: The aims of this study were to (1) describe the clinical symptoms of painful receptive anal intercourse (RAI) in GBM following PCa treatment, (2) estimate the prevalence of anodyspareunia, and (3) identify clinical and psychosocial correlates. METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of baseline and 24-month follow-up data from the Restore-2 randomized clinical trial of 401 GBM treated for PCa. The analytic sample included only those participants who attempted RAI during or since their PCa treatment (N = 195). OUTCOMES: Anodyspareunia was operationalized as moderate to severe pain during RAI for ≥6 months that resulted in mild to severe distress. Additional quality-of-life outcomes included the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (bowel function and bother subscales), the Brief Symptom Inventory-18, and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Prostate. RESULTS: Overall 82 (42.1%) participants reported pain during RAI since completing PCa treatment. Of these, 45.1% experienced painful RAI sometimes or frequently, and 63.0% indicated that the pain was persistent. The pain at its worst was moderate to very severe for 79.0%. The experience of pain was at least mildly distressing for 63.5%. Painful RAI worsened for a third (33.4%) of participants after completing PCa treatment. Of the 82 GBM, 15.4% were classified as meeting criteria for anodyspareunia. Antecedents of anodyspareunia included a lifelong history of painful RAI and bowel dysfunction following PCa treatment. Those reporting symptoms of anodyspareunia were more likely to avoid RAI due to pain (adjusted odds ratio, 4.37), which was negatively associated with sexual satisfaction (mean difference, -2.77) and self-esteem (mean difference, -3.33). The model explained 37.2% of the variance in overall quality of life. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Culturally responsive PCa care should include the assessment of anodyspareunia among GBM and explore treatment options. STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: This is the largest study to date focused on anodyspareunia among GBM treated for PCa. Anodyspareunia was assessed with multiple items characterizing the intensity, duration, and distress related to painful RAI. The external validity of the findings is limited by the nonprobability sample. Furthermore, the cause-and-effect relationships between the reported associations cannot be established by the research design. CONCLUSIONS: Anodyspareunia should be considered a sexual dysfunction in GBM and investigated as an adverse outcome of PCa treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-524
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 31 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The International Society of Sexual Medicine. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • GLBT persons
  • aged
  • cancer survivor
  • nonheterosexual persons
  • prostatic neoplasms
  • sexual dysfunction
  • sexual minorities


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