Prostate surgery, or radical prostatectomy, is a common treatment option for men with localized prostate cancer and other prostate-related conditions. This surgery involves removing the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue. While the primary goal of these surgeries is to remove cancerous tissue or alleviate urinary symptoms, they can have unintended consequences, such as erectile dysfunction (ED). This blog post will discuss the connection between erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery the different surgical approaches, and treatments available to address this challenge.
The Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Prostate Surgery
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. After prostate surgery, men often experience ED due to nerves and blood vessels that play a crucial role in erections being injured. Another reason for erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery is that the surgery can damage the arteries that supply blood to the penis, reducing blood flow. According to the National Library of Medicine, it is estimated that 85% of men will experience erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery. The extent of ED after prostate surgery depends on the surgery performed.
Two Primary Types of Radical Prostatectomies
The severity of erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery can vary from man to man. Some men can experience mild ED, while others experience complete ED. Although precautions are taken to help reduce the likelihood of complications, all surgeries come with risks. Two primary types of prostate surgeries can affect the severity of ED.
This traditional approach involves a large incision in the lower abdomen to access the prostate, which is detached from the bladder and urethra. The surgeon’s goal is to remove just enough tissue and not disturb any muscles that control urinary continence and the nerves that control erections. A temporary Foley catheter will be put in place to allow urine to drain as the patient heals. This surgery offers good cancer control but may have a higher risk of postoperative ED due to potential nerve damage.
Laparoscopic surgery or robot-assisted surgery are minimally invasive and have become more common. This type of surgery eliminates the need for a large incision. A small needle is inserted just below the belly button, and the surgery is performed. Most men who undergo this type of prostate surgery experience less blood loss, less need for pain medication, early removal of a Foley catheter, and quicker recovery. Laparoscopic prostatectomy may provide better preservation of erectile function compared to open surgery but can still carry some risks.
Radiation therapy can also be used as an alternative to surgery, which can also lead to ED, although the onset may be gradual over time.
Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction After Prostate Surgery
Fortunately, there are several treatments available to help manage ED after prostate surgery:
Oral medications like Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil) can help improve blood flow to the penis by relaxing the blood vessels and enhancing erectile function. These drugs require a prescription if they are used for penile rehabilitation.
Some men may benefit from injections containing medication that helps relax the blood vessels in the penis. These injections can help induce erections but can be time-consuming, costly, and inconvenient.
Vacuum Therapy Devices
Vacuum therapy devices, or vacuum pumps, penis pumps, or vacuum erection devices, use a vacuum to draw blood into the penis, creating an artificial erection. While they may not be as spontaneous as natural erections, penis pumps can help maintain penile health.
In cases where other treatments are ineffective, a penile implant may be considered. This surgical procedure involves the insertion of inflatable tubes inside the penis. A fluid reservoir and pump are placed in the scrotum, allowing a man to control an erection when desired.
With various treatment options available, your doctor can help you develop a plan and help you decide which one or combination of options is right for you.
Tips for Coping with Erectile Dysfunction After Prostate Surgery
Staying active can help to improve your overall health and well-being, and it may also help to improve your erectile function.
Talk to Your Partner
Communication about your concerns is essential, and your partner can be a valuable source of support.
Ask for Help
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Many resources are available to help men with ED, including support groups and counseling services. Talk to your doctor or find a therapist in your state at Zencare.
Do Not Give Up
Many effective treatments are available. You may need to try a few of them before finding what works for you.
Summing it Up
Erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery can be a distressing side effect, but it is essential to remember that effective treatments and support are available. Effective communication with doctors, staying resilient and active, and having a supportive partner can all help increase the chances of returning to a satisfying sexual life. If you or a loved one is facing ED after prostate surgery, do not hesitate to seek help and explore options to regain sexual function and overall quality of life.
Vacuum Therapy Devices for Men with ED
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.