Sexual Function Recovery after Prostate Cancer Surgery

When men are treated for prostate cancer, some may have short- or long-term sexual health problems as a result. The most common issue is erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is when a man can’t get or keep an erection that’s firm enough for sex. ED may be a result of surgery. There are times when removing the neurovascular bundles that control the blood flow to the penis, is needed.

The good news is men can still be sexually active after prostate cancer treatment because there are treatments that can help with erections, despite ED. Men treated with surgery will know how much erectile function they will get back (on average) by month 24 after treatment.

Their ability to regain erectile function will depend on their age (men under 60 have a better chance of regaining erections than older men), pre-surgery erectile function and other factors.

Treatments for ED after prostate cancer surgery can involve:

  • PDE-5 Inhibitors – prescription medicines, which increase penile blood flow.
  • Intracavernosal Injection or Intraurethral Suppository Therapy – involves prescribed drugs delivered straight to the penis to help blood flow for an erection.
  • Dietary Supplements – these are popular, but may not be safe or even work. Check with your doctor before you take any to self-treat your ED.
  • Testosterone Replacement Therapy – can be considered for a select group of men with prostate cancer who have low testosterone, based on their cancer treatment outcome.
  • Vacuum Erection Devices – pumps to help bring blood into the penis and keep an erection using a constriction ring; they do not call for a prescription.
  • Penile Implants – this involves surgery and should be done by a urologist who is skilled in this type of surgery.

Talk to your doctor—and include your partner—before you are treated for prostate cancer to learn more about how it might affect your sexual function, and what you can do about it. A fulfilling sex life after prostate cancer treatment is likely, with time and the right treatment.

Learn more by listening to our podcast, Sexual Function Recovery after Cancer Treatment with Dr. Daniela Wittmann.

 Visit UrologyHealth.org for more information on sexual function recovery after prostate cancer surgery.

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