Radical prostatectomy or prostate surgery is a measure to treat or remove the prostate gland to save the person from possible health problems. Erectile dysfunction is one of the common occurrences after prostate surgery.
Sometimes, cancer in the prostate cannot be located at one location; there are in fact many lumps which lead to severe surgeries. The ways of treating cancer or any other prostate gland problem vary, but the occurrence of erectile dysfunction after the surgery is pretty much unavoidable.
Can prostate surgery cause erectile dysfunction? Why?
Prostate surgery is a surgical procedure to treat the prostate gland or some tissues around it. Mostly it is done in cases like Prostate cancer, Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate. It targets to cure the prostate gland, and if the damage is beyond repair, they are removed entirely for the safety of the patient.
While expert surgeons take the help of technology with excellent nerve-sparing techniques, the risk of penile muscles being damaged exists. During the process, the penile muscles go under deep sleep because of the trauma caused on these soft tissues and nerves. This also occurs due to added effects of cavernosal muscles developing atrophy and excessive tissue formation.
The penile muscles going into atrophy and sleep causes nighttime erectile dysfunction which hampers the maintenance of the erectile tissues. The difficulty may last for just a couple of years and sometimes may extend to an unpredicted time. And the severity of the erectile dysfunction here depends on how intense the surgery has been.
The good news, although, is that the nerves and tissues can be revived to function. It happens with time, medications and efforts.
When can you be sexually active again?
The ability to get back into sexual activity and normal life will depend on the after-effects of the surgery. There are a few things to consider here which are going to decide the effects on your sex life right after the surgery.
- The quality of erections experienced before the surgery
- Relative medicines taken before and after the surgery
- Consumption of medicines concerning affect on erections like anti-depressants, neurological medicines, etc.
- Age of the person
- Lifestyle habits
- Severity of the treatment
- Success of the prostate surgery
All of the factors contribute to the after surgery sex experience. For some people, the effects of the surgery last for a maximum of 12 weeks after which the first erection normally occurs. Other patients take more than a year to get back into their normal erections with periodical dysfunctions.
However, as the severity of the surgery increases, the ability to get back to sexual life again is disrupted. People may have erectile dysfunction for the first few years or for a lifetime, depending on the treatment and its after-effects. Although, in some cases, doctor’s do recommend artificial formats of erectile recoveries, these are just for the time being and not permanent!
What are the remedies available to you?
Prostate surgery disrupts your sex life. And as the effects of the surgery on the sexual life are already known, doctors suggest a lot of remedies to the patients to recover from the biggest side-effect – erectile dysfunction. Although doctors recommend waiting for a healing period of 12 weeks, any problems occurring after this can be consulted with the doctor to seek additional remedies!
Doctors generally prescribe oral medicines to cure erectile dysfunction. And this includes a prescription for medicines like Viagra, Cialis, etc. To be taken by mouth, these medicines improve the flow of blood to the penis giving the person a temporary erection that lasts for almost 30 minutes to an hour. Here, the erection is a lot dependent on manual stimulation. But to get the best effects of it, the person needs to consume the medicine regularly for a few days to show its effects. It works best on an empty stomach and is not to be taken more than one in a day. Oral medicines may or may not work on individuals depending on the effects it may cause. You can seek another remedy if medicines seem to not work at all.
Penile injections come in the form of injection or shots which needs to be taken 10 minutes before one wants to get an erection. This can be done by the person themselves. The medicine from the shot causes an increased flow of blood in the penis leading to an erection without any need of stimulation. The erection lasts for almost 60 minutes. The doctors teach the patients the exact procedure to take these penile injections for correct use.
MUSE is actually a small medicine (almost the size of a grain) which needs to be inserted in the urethra. The urethra is the place from where the urine is ejaculated from the penis. The MUSE is to be inserted in the urethra. This gives the person an erection within 10 minutes. There is no manual stimulation needed for this and the erection lasts for a good 30 to 60 minutes.
Penile rings are stimulating medical devices which help men keep their erections for longer. It has therapeutic effects on the penis and thus, treats erectile dysfunction effectively. The penile ring is to be worn by the man at the base of the penis. This keeps the hard on rigid and lasting for longer.
Penile implantation is a surgical procedure where a mechanical device is placed inside the penis. During the stimulation, the mechanical device then acts on its own, much like the prostate gland, to give an erection to the man.
Sex after prostate surgery – What to expect!
Erections are related to a man’s confidence and feelings of manliness. To not be able to get an erection can be traumatic to some people – given the inability and the help taken from added medications. It takes time to get adjusted to erectile dysfunction. It also takes time to learn the usage of medicines and be happy with what remedies one has.
While some metrics provide a positive sex life after 12-15 weeks of having successful prostate surgery, men can adhere to trying out the alternatives (remedies) to improve on their sex life. There can be other problems too like performance anxiety, urine leakage during sex, soft erections, etc.
Is it possible to orgasm without an erection?
Yes indeed! Erection and orgasm are two different things. Even though you might not be able to hold on erections for long and have soft erections, good stimulation can lead you to an orgasm. As the skin sensation remains the same, good stimulation can cause good orgasm.
Is there a possible treatment for it?
Some lifestyle changes can be made to recover from the side-effects of prostate surgery and alleviate the erectile dysfunction. You can consult a healthcare doctor to bring in lifestyle changes. Here are some of them:
- Regular exercises
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Responsible drinking or quit alcohol
- Stress and anxiety management
- Stop smoking
- Kegel exercises (Exercises meant to strengthen pelvic muscles)
How will erectile dysfunction and prostate surgery affect relationships?
Prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction can affect the sex drive of a person. As treatment is in progress, people lose the desire to indulge in sex. The treatment, surgery, and recovery become overwhelming at times. This can alter the confidence of the man, their self-esteem and the way they behave with women in their lives. It impacts the relationships accordingly.
While the physical frustration like fatigue, tiredness, etc. would render inability to perform, the emotional stress would affect the sexual desire. As a partner’s satisfaction is key to maintaining a good relationship – the inability would strike hard!
But the key to great relationships is to consider the good part of the relationship. Loss of sex does not and should not result in the loss of love or intimate feelings towards each other. There are ways to remain in intimate relationships without having erections. Erectile dysfunction makes penetrating impossible but other aspects of having a good physical relationship still exists. The couple can try new methods of satisfying each other. The romance, kisses, cuddles and quality time can be used as a learning mechanism to cope with the problems.
And when you are able to talk to the partner about the problems and the remedies available, the understanding shall develop. As sex is not as important as the health of the person, relationship shall find its way if it persists to be that important without the sex too!
The bottom line!
Erectile dysfunction is the most common side-effect of having a prostate surgery. While it cannot be ignored, there are remedies which can be practiced to return back to an active sex life. With a healthy lifestyle, the ability to get a natural erection can be improved. Men can even take artificial means like medicines, injections, etc. to get temporary solutions.
The healing period is around 12 weeks. In some cases, a person might also take a couple of years to heal. The severity of the surgery decides the effects. But this is not the end! You can still cure the problem of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in the most convenient and effective ways.