Prostatectomy and Erectile Dysfunction What to Expect After Prostate Removal

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    May 14, 2013
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Prostatectomy and Erectile Dysfunction What to Expect After Prostate Removal Photo by John Dugan

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer to affect men, after skin cancer; in the United States alone, this aggressive cancer claims the lives of over 30,000 men per year. However, when it is caught in the early stages, prostate cancer is generally treatable through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or complete removal of the prostate.

Prostate removal, which is frequently performed via a procedure known as radical prostatectomy, is recommended in approximately 60% of cases, particularly when the cancer has not yet spread to other organs. However, prostatectomy side effects can be significant, ranging from loss of bladder control to erectile dysfunction. Before deciding to go this route, men should be aware of these, as well as basic measures for penis care that may help to limit their loss of sexual function.

Common prostatectomy side effects:

  • Urinary incontinence. During removal of the prostate, it is not uncommon for damage to occur to the urinary sphincter, the muscle that controls the opening and closing of the bladder. As a result, many men experience some degree of urinary incontinence following the procedure. While some may have only mild leakage, others can experience full loss of control over their bladder, which may have a significant impact on their lifestyle.

Some patients are able to regain normal function by practicing pelvic floor exercises; in some cases, adapting the consumption of fluids may be necessary. For more severe cases, medications or additional surgeries may be necessary to repair the damage.

  • Infertility. With radical prostatectomy, all of the prostate gland is removed, along with the seminal vesicles, and in many cases, the nearby lymph nodes. Because the prostate is responsible for the production of semen and sperm, prostatectomy always results in infertility.
  • Erectile dysfunction. The nerve tissue that is responsible for sending messages from the brain to the penis in order to trigger erections is sometimes damaged during prostate removal; it is not uncommon for men to encounter temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction following surgery. In some cases, the nerve tissue may regenerate, although this can take months or even years. In other instances, men opt for medication or penile implants to improve their erections.

Increasing penis sensation

Men who undergo prostatectomy should have realistic expectations following surgery; it would be misleading to claim that any device or product can eliminate the side effects of radical prostatectomy. However, with some attention to self-care, many men can continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in the years to come.

In order to improve their prospects for sexual function, men should do the following:

  • Promote healthy circulation. Regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and appropriate clothing (not too tight, not too loose) can improve blood flow to all parts of the body, including the penis, allowing for oxygenation of the nerves, skin and blood vessels. Oxygen is important in the repair of damaged tissue and regrowth of healthy new tissue, so keeping the heart pumping is essential to penile function.
  • Limit damaging activities. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and use of recreational substances can contribute to erectile dysfunction; all men should avoid these habits.
  • Nourish the penile tissue. Like the rest of the body, the penis needs adequate nutrition to function at its best. Some of the important nutrients needed for penis health can be found in a healthy diet; however, even men who eat right often do not get enough of certain vitamins and amino acids to benefit the penile tissue. Applying a high-quality penis health creme (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can provide the skin of the penis with these vital nutrients, keeping the penis healthy, resilient and responsive.

Author's Profile

For additional information on most common penis health issues, tips on improving penis sensitivity, and what to do to maintain a healthy penis, visit: John Dugan is a professional writer who specializes in men's health issues and is an ongoing contributing writer to numerous online web sites.

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