Sexual Function after Prostate Cancer

Erectile-dysfunction-after-Prostate-CancerProstate cancer occurs in a man’s prostate — it develops from a small walnut-shaped gland that makes the seminal fluid that transports the sperm. Adenocarcinoma is the medical term for prostate cancer. It is a very slow growing cancer; with no symptoms, many never know it until the advanced stage. This cancer affects mostly older men, 80% in men over 65 and 1% in men under 50. The cause of prostate cancer is still unknown but men who eat red meat are more likely to have it. Prostate cancer detected in its early stage is treatable with very good survival rate.

Prostatectomy is the surgery used to remove the prostate gland. This surgery can weaken the nerves, blood vessels and muscles around the prostate. The nerves and blood vessels control the physical aspect of erection and affect sexual function. For a month or longer after surgery many men are not able to get an erection (erectile dysfunction). The common side effect of prostate cancer treatment is erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction or impotence is the inability to sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Prostate cancer is not the cause of erectile dysfunction but treatment may cause it. Prostate cancer treatment affects the nerves, blood vessels and muscles needed for erection. The libido or sex drive is also affected by prostate cancer treatment. Radiation therapy affects and damages the nerves near the prostate. Erectile dysfunction normally appears six months after radiation therapy. Hormone therapy does not damage the nerves but it lowers the production of testosterone resulting to lower sex drive. Erection and sexual desire may get better several months after hormone treatment.

Sexual recovery takes time; nearly all men with intact nerves see improvement within one year after treatment. It takes 4 years for men to recover full sexual function after surgery. The ability to function sexually depends on your age, how close the prostate cancer is to the nerves or whether you had erections prior to surgery. Sexual activity depend on how you feel and the type of treatment you under go. If you have erections after surgery don’t be surprise if you do not ejaculate when you have orgasm. The prostate gland makes seminal fluid and there will be no semen when the prostate gland is removed. Men become sterile after surgery.

Experts advise that you should not stop having sex after cancer treatment. Erection is not required to have an orgasm, if you have normal skin sensation you can still have orgasm without erection. Continuing to have regular sex is important in penile rehabilitation after prostate cancer treatment to get or maintain an erection. Sexual relationship will be affected after prostate cancer treatment. Erectile dysfunction may change the way a couple have sex. If you have a partner, it is important that you speak with your doctor together to learn what treatment might work best for you.