Anal Stimulation after Brachytherapy

Last Modified: March 2, 2008


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I am 6 months post radioactive seed implantation, and doing very well. Is there any increased risk from anal stimulation/dildo play because of the procedure?


Neha Vapiwala , MD, Senior Editor of OncoLink and Chief Resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

There actually is a potential risk of normal tissue damage during activities involving anal penetration for some time after prostate brachytherapy. There are two main issues here: ongoing radioactivity and chronic rectal irritation.

Depending on the isotope that was used for your brachytherapy treatment, you may or may not still be radioactive. For example, if you were implanted with Palladium-103 seeds, then you would no longer be radioactive, as the half-life is only 17 days and thus the radioactivity is nearly gone by about 4 months. On the other hand, if you were implanted with Iodine-125 seeds, the half-life is 60 days, and so it would take about 14 months before the activity is gone. This means that the prostate (and nearby rectum) is still giving off radioactivity even 6 months after your procedure. This means that anything entering the rectum would be exposed to some dose of radiation, and this can pose theoretical risks to your partner.

The other issue is trauma to the rectal mucosa from anal penetration, as this tissue may still be quite swollen and sensitive from the implants as it reacts to the ongoing radiation from the seeds. During the time period of radioactivity, the rectal tissue is relatively more fragile and prone to injury and slower to heal. So, even if you aren't having any rectal symptoms or problems right now, prolonged and vigorous anal stimulation can potentially injure the rectal tissue and cause rectal pain, bleeding, and infection.

So to be on the safe side, it would probably be best to minimize any potential rectal trauma until about a year has passed, both for your safety as well as that of your partner.