Robert McConkey, a urology nurse studying for his masters through Sheffield Hallam University in the UK (Distance Learning), is conducting a research project investigating the experience of gay men with prostate cancer in Ireland.
“The prostate has been referred to as the male G-spot, so if you have surgery to remove it, or radiation to treat it, there may be questions around how it will impact on your sex life,” says McConkey.
“Difficulty with erections after prostate cancer treatment is a common treatment side-effect, and current research is mostly done on penile-vaginal penetration. What does it mean for tops, bottoms, for oral sex or mutual masturbation? Does Viagra help? And what about ejaculating? Would it matter if you didn’t cum anymore?”
For gay couples there is double the chance of someone in the relationship being affected by prostate cancer. McConkey’s research will be on the impact a diagnosis and treatment has on wellbeing.
Loss of Erection
“If you are single, what resources are there, who understands your issues?” he asks. Most of the research to date focuses on female caregivers, usually ‘wives’, how might it be different for a male partner?
“When you are attracted to someone sexually, you normally get an erection, if that ability was lost, how would that feel? Does one treatment have a greater impact on your sex life as a gay man than another (surgery versus radiotherapy), taking sexuality into consideration?
Are healthcare professionals knowledgeable about the unique impact prostate cancer may have on gay men?”
Gay Specific Health Concerns
Many gay men are not comfortable speaking to their doctors/nurses about gay-specific prostate health concerns, and many don’t know where to access accurate information.
“Many of the questions I ask are unanswered because so little research has been done in this area,” says McConkey.
“Understanding experience may help change the way prostate cancer care is delivered to gay men.”
If you have had prostate cancer treatment in Ireland, McConkey is interested in speaking with you about your experience. Similarly, if you know a gay man who is affected by prostate cancer, he would like you to pass his information on to them.
“As far as I am aware, this is the first study of its kind to be done in Ireland,” he says. “Ethical approval for the study has been granted by the university ethics committee and personal information will be treated confidentially and used anonymously, so participants will not be identified in any way.
“I need GCN readers’ help with this study,” McConkey adds. “If I don’t get enough participants, the study may have to move to the UK and the results will not have the same bearing in Ireland.”
If you’re interested in participating in the study, please leave your name and email below.