Hormone Deprivation Symptoms in Men

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 10/2019

Hormone therapy is a treatment option for prostate cancer. It lowers levels of testosterone and other male sex hormones called androgens. This type of treatment is also called androgen ablation therapy. Your doctor may combine it with medication or an orchiectomy. An orchiectomy is an operation to remove the testicles.

Men receiving hormone therapy for prostate cancer may have hormone deprivation symptoms. Sometimes testosterone treatments help raise androgen levels and decrease these symptoms. But testosterone causes prostate cancer grow. So it is not an option for men with prostate cancer.

Side effects and symptoms

Hormone therapy can cause several side effects, including:

  • Occasional hot flashes with severe sweating

  • Thinning of the bones, called osteoporosis

  • Decreased desire for sex

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

  • Fatigue

  • Depression or irritability

  • Loss of muscle

  • Weight gain

Managing the side effects

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

Osteoporosis. Men who have received hormone therapy have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Some medical treatments can help slow or stop bone loss. Your doctor may give these individually or together:

  • Alendronate (Binosto, Fosamax)

  • Pamidronate (Aredia) and zoledronic acid (Zometa)

  • Denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva)

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

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

  • Nonhormonal treatments, such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin)

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

  • Exercise

  • Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques

  • A cooler room temperature

Men can also make lifestyle changes to manage side effects:

  • Exercising

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Related Resources

Prostate Cancer: Types of Treatment