Exercise may enable men undergoing androgen suppression therapy (AST) for prostate cancer (PCa) to maintain sexual activity, according to researchers.

Prue Cormie, PhD, a senior research fellow at Edith Cowan University Health and Wellness Institute in Joondalup, Western Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned 57 PCa patients receiving AST to participate in a 12-week exercise program consisting of resistance and aerobic modes (29 subjects) or usual care (28 subjects).

Prior to intervention, the two groups had no differences in sexual activity, Dr. Cormie’s group reported online ahead of print in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease. After 12 weeks, patients receiving usual care had decreased sexual activity, whereas patients in the exercise program maintained their level of sexual activity.

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At baseline, 20.6% and 22.2% of subjects in the exercise and control groups reported a major interest in sex. Following the intervention, the exercise group had a significantly higher proportion of subjects reporting a major interest in sex (17.2% vs. 0%).

“Exercise should therefore be considered as an adjuvant therapy for prostate cancer patients on AST who are especially interested in optimizing sexual activity,” the authors concluded.

The investigators noted that previous research has demonstrated that exercise is an effective way to mitigate many adverse treatment-related effects of androgen suppression, but the potential impact of exercise on sexual activity previously had not been studied.