What if one day your relationship with pleasure was completely reset? For the 1 in 6 Australian men, and people with a prostate, who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, this statement rings true. But, A Touchy Subject, an online educational hub is flipping the script.

While the diagnosis alone isn’t always what changes things, it’s often the treatment, rehabilitation and recovery process that does. We spoke with an expert on the matter to unpack the importance of pleasure as part of holistic health and wellbeing during International Men’s Health Week (June 10-16).

Victoria Cullen is the founder of A Touchy Subject, an online educational hub that supports prostate cancer survivors to regain sexual function and renew their sex lives after treatment. We asked Victoria to answer the top three prostate-health questions submitted by our loyal subscribers – and how her upcoming private members’ forum connects members with a community that’s seeing results.

Passionfruit: Our first subscriber asks, “After having my prostate removed, I’m wondering, when will I be back to normal? I.e. Getting hard without any pills, pumps, injections, etc.”

Victoria Cullen: That’s such a common question, and the first thing we have to unpack here is this idea that we can even put a timeline on it, as the reality has more to do with when and whether those nerves [around the prostate] will wake up. So, in terms of ‘when’, the unfortunate answer is it's an enormous question mark.

Beyond the nerve endings, there's this whole orchestra going on in the background. It’s your physical health, your cardiovascular health; in the end it’s all about blood flow, right? So it’s about doing everything you can, within your control, to impact your erectile function.

Secondly, you're likely looking at a timeline that's years, not months. I see a lot of distress from men who are six to 12-months post-surgery, who feel that an enormous amount of time has passed and become disheartened. Whereas the reality is there are men who've done penile rehab for the full two years and, only in those two to four years, seen some progress and improvement.

Until we have the technology to detect what nerve endings are genuinely left around the prostate and examine that recovery over time, let's take control of what we can and optimise what potential might be there.

P: Okay, here’s our next one, “What is your advice around navigating ED (erectile dysfunction) after radical robotic prostatectomy?”

VC: Think about it this way, the erection is a bit of a recipe, and one ingredient in particular is low-stress. Pleasure exists when you are feeling safe and relaxed, so work towards being in a low-cortisol state. And, just because you experience ED doesn’t mean that you won’t see an erection for two years. Whether it’s solo or with a partner, find a way to manually create the erection you want – you know, a recipe that works for you.

It’s not just a case of pumps or injections or pills, it might be a blend or combination of all three (Disclaimer: there are safety directions involved with each of these solutions which you should definitely consult your specialist about before going ahead!). Explore your options and take the time to find the technique(s) that work for you.

If you’re keen to learn the foundations of penile rehabilitation, the options available for creating erections manually, and how to optimise your erection health to maximise your functional potential, I’ve developed a free program over here .

And if you want to incorporate a pump into your rehab regime, and create pumped-erections for solo/partnered play, I have a Training Program over here , featuring live demo videos from men who've gone through prostate cancer treatment.

P: The recipe is such a good analogy, especially because everyone’s journey is different, their sexuality, identity and relationship with their body – it’s all so personal, so intertwined. 

Our next subscriber asks, “What is the correct way to use a pump following prostate surgery?”

VC: Whether you’re a shower or a grower, circumcised or uncircumcised, this will all change your experience with a pump. Unfortunately, the instructions on the box aren’t going to give you everything you need to know about using them.

On A Touchy Subject, we’ve created a Pump Rehab program which fills you in on all the intricacies, while giving you demos with as many different pumps as possible. Right now, we’re very focused on the Vacurect, but the technique and advice still translates pump to pump.

Some common mistakes that I see people make over and over again are things like: pumping too quickly, past the point of full erection or past the point of comfort. It’s not a case of ‘more is more’ or ‘no pain, no gain’. You actually want to take this very mindfully, slowly. You should not be experiencing any discomfort, pain or bruising.

It’s also about the equipment and essentials, using the right lube and constriction ring for your body and your pump. When you’re using just the pump you'll see an erection in the cylinder, but when you take the cylinder off, and there's no constriction, your erection is just going to deflate; the blood flows back into your body. Our videos make it clear that it's all about the constriction system and your technique.

As silly as it sounds, it also helps to trim or shave the pubic hair back so that you can create a good seal between the pump and your body. Anything that improves the pumping experience is going to improve the quality of the erection.

However, if you’re looking for how to use a pump for rehabilitation (i.e. how long, how often, etc.), I have a one-page pump rehab guide on my website – and it’s free!

P: After years of working with prostate cancer survivors and their partners, you’ve nurtured quite the community. Can you tell us more about your upcoming forum?

VC: It’s something I’ve wanted to offer for a very long time, and it finally opens on Friday 14th June. It’s a private members’ forum for people, who have experienced or are going through prostate cancer treatment (including prostate removal surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy) to connect with others across all points of the timeline and with a spectrum of results.

The subscriber community offers specialised webinars and support for a low-cost monthly fee. This way, we can continue to share updated resources, recordings and research for the benefit of everyone’s recovery journey. We’re so excited to share this with anyone going through rehabilitation – or supporting someone who is.

Ready to refine your pump technique? Check out the paid course featuring live demonstrations over here. Or complete the free program to learn more about the private members forum. For more information about A Touchy Subject please visit atouchysubject.com.

A Touchy Subject

A Touchy Subject helps you regain sexual function and renew your sex life after prostate cancer treatment.