Understand Erectile Dysfunction | Other causes

The Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Erectile Dysfunction

To date, 13.5% of men worldwide are affected by prostate cancer1. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and produces one of the components of sperm. Treatment of the prostate, whether surgical or not, can lead to changes in sexual function and more specifically, erectile dysfunction.

"I had prostate cancer. Ever since then, I feel like my sex life has been suspended."

Any surgery or treatment for prostate cancer can have an impact on your sexual desire and your sex life in general, especially if you have previously suffered from erectile dysfunction. However, it is important to remain positive and remember that there are solutions available. It is often possible to correct or at least improve your sexual function after treatment.


Life After Prostate Cancer Surgery: The Impact on Erectile Function


Various medical solutions for prostate cancer can be the cause of some erectile problems:

    • Radical prostatectomy is a surgical procedure that inflicts damage to the nerves resulting in local changes that causes sexual dysfunction immediately after the operation. However, the nerves involved in an erection will likely be restored between 12 and 24 months post operatively.
    • Hormone therapy is a treatment  frequently prescribed to reduce the size of tumours. Unfortunately, it is often responsible for a decrease in libido and erectile function. After treatment, your libido may reappear. Talk to your partner about solutions to rekindle your desire.
    • Radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy induces morphological arterial and nervous degeneration and reduces blood flow to the penis. which can result in issues with your erections after treatment.


Prostate Cancer and Erectile Dysfunction: Don’t give in to the frustration!


Consequences of your treatment such as loss of erectile function or decreased libido can lead to a loss of self-esteem, confidence and depression. This may be a difficult stage in your journey, especially as it stems from the disease. However, don’t give up: it is important to continue to be sexually active where possible. Penile rehabilitation is a treatment used to avoid any build up of fibrosis caused by a lack of blood or oxygen flowing into the penis. Rehabilitation will  increase your chances of achieving a natural erection, therefore it is an important component of your treatment after prostate surgery.

Close contact with your partner is definitely recommended at this challenging time in your life. An open and honest discussion will enable you to explore other ways to grow sexually together. Above all, your partner’s support can help you to overcome any feelings of isolation. There are many ways to satisfy yourself, your partner and your body image. Find out more in our article on good communication in a couple. In addition, be sure to consult a sexologist, who will help you explore the field of possibilities and prove to you that it is possible to have pleasure when you are suffering from erectile problems!


The top 3 tips for a fulfilling sex life

1- As you may know, it is better to stay sexually active after prostate cancer surgery or treatment. It is beneficial for both your physical and emotional health!

2- Your life should not be dictated by the unforeseen and not by your cancer diagnosis or treatment! You can rebuild your sex life with spontaneity. Pay no attention to performance and don’t force yourself to have sexual relations: instead focus on gradually rediscovering desire and exploring new options with your partner. You will feel more relaxed and enjoy improved self-esteem.

3- If you experience any discomfort or pain during intercourse, consult your doctor promptly.

When you make an appointment to discuss ED with your doctor, they will go over your options and help you decide what’s best for your unique situation. They might suggest making lifestyle changes, trying drug therapy, or getting a penile implant.

Use our ‘Find a Doctor’ tool to locate a doctor in your area who can provide information on how to best treat your ED.

1: CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2018

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