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Aging Male. 2010 Dec;13(4):258-64. doi: 10.3109/13685538.2010.487554.

Re-constructing masculinity following radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer.

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School of Psychology, University of East London, Water Lane, London E15 4LZ, United Kingdom.


Prostate cancer is common in older men. Surgical treatment involving removal of the prostate can result in temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction (ED) and incontinence and have a major impact on men's masculine identity. Seven men were interviewed about their experiences and concerns following prostatectomy, and the transcripts were analysed employing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis to identify the ways in which they constructed their masculinity. Participants drew upon four main discourses when discussing the impact of surgical treatment on their sense of masculinity: masculine identity and sexual activity, ED as a normative experience, mental resilience and vulnerability. Penetrative sex was constructed as central to a masculine identity, but inability to achieve this was normalised in terms of the ageing process. Stereotypically masculine qualities of emotional control and rationality were drawn on in describing their reaction to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer but they also experienced a new-found sense of physical vulnerability. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the clinical management of ED post-surgery and helping men adjust to life following treatment.

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