The influence of testosterone suppression and recovery on sexual function in men with prostate cancer: observations from a prospective study in men undergoing intermittent androgen suppression

J Urol. 2012 Jun;187(6):2162-6. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.01.080. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


Purpose: We investigated the effects of testosterone change on the sexual function of men with prostate cancer undergoing intermittent maximal androgen deprivation therapy.

Materials and methods: We conducted a phase II cohort study of 250 patients with prostate cancer undergoing intermittent maximal androgen deprivation therapy. Flutamide (Eulexin®) 250 mg 3 times daily and leuprolide (Lucrin®) 22.5 mg were given during a 9-month treatment phase (ONPhase). Therapy was ceased provided that prostate specific antigen was 4 ng/ml or less. Monitoring continued every 3 months for a further 2 years (OFFPhase) unless re-treatment occurred. Sexual function was assessed with the QLQ-PR25 version 3.0 prostate module in conjunction with the QLQ-C30 questionnaire at baseline and every 3 months thereafter.

Results: At baseline 46% of patients reported sexual activity with almost half (43%) reporting mild or no erectile problems. Of the men 63% reported an interest in sex (libido), with 28% reporting moderate to high libido. In addition, 26% felt less masculine as a result of illness or treatment. By 3 months of ONPhase all parameters deteriorated, worsening to a low at 9 months. Only 13% of the men reported sexual activity and 10% reported moderate to high libido. The proportion of men feeling less masculine increased to 50%. During the OFFPhase recovery was observed. Of those previously sexually active men 52% resumed sexual activity. Of these patients all reported erectile function returning to baseline. Levels of libido, masculinity and sexual activity recovered but not to baseline levels.

Conclusions: Libido, sexual activity and perceptions of masculinity deteriorate during ONPhase. Of the sexually active men at baseline half will resume sexual activity despite 9 months of androgen deprivation therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Androgen Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / administration & dosage
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Flutamide / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Leuprolide / administration & dosage*
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Male
  • Masculinity
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sexuality / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Testosterone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Testosterone / physiology


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Testosterone
  • Flutamide
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • Leuprolide