Hormone Deprivation Symptoms in Men

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2016

Men who receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer may experience symptoms of hormone deprivation. This is because hormone therapy lowers levels of testosterone and other male sex hormones called androgens. Although hormone therapy helps treat the cancer, it can cause several other side effects.

Relieving side effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment. This is called symptom management or palliative care. Talk with your health care team if you have any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Side effects and symptoms

A lack of testosterone can cause the following symptoms:

  • Occasional hot flashes with severe sweating

  • Thinning of the bones, called osteoporosis

  • Decreased libido, or desire for sex

  • Erectile dysfunction, which is a problem with having or maintaining an erection

  • Fatigue

  • Depression or irritability

Men without prostate cancer may have these symptoms as part of aging. These men may receive treatments to raise their testosterone levels. But testosterone helps prostate cancer grow. So these treatments are not an option for men with prostate cancer.

Managing osteoporosis

Androgen ablation therapy stops the production of testosterone. This may be done with medication or an orchiectomy. An orchiectomy is an operation to remove the testicles. Men who have received androgen ablation therapy have a higher risk of thinning bones. This is called osteoporosis.

Most research on osteoporosis has focused on preventing this condition in women. This is because it is more common in women than in men. But doctors are studying if osteoporosis treatments should be different for men because of their different hormone levels.

The following medical treatments help slow or stop bone loss in men. Your doctor may give these individually or in combination.

  • Alendronate (Fosamax)

  • Pamidronate (Aredia) and zoledronic acid (Zometa)

  • Denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva)

Learn more about osteoporosis and general treatment options for both men and women, including exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Managing hot flashes

Up to 75% of men receiving hormone treatments for prostate cancer have hot flashes. The following treatments may help reduce the number and severity of hot flashes in men:

  • Antidepressants, such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Nonhormonal treatments, such as Gabapentin (Neurontin)

  • Progesterone, such as megestrol acetate (Megace, Ovaban, Pallace)

  • Exercise

  • Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques

  • A cooler room temperature

More Information

Prostate Cancer

Hormone Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer

Side Effects