Regardless of age, everyone wants a healthy sex life. But when prostate cancer strikes, this can be tricky. In many cases treatments for prostate cancer can lead to erectile dysfunction, but discovering how to have a healthy sex life after prostate cancer is not impossible.
Ask About Your Treatment Options
There are three ways doctors can treat prostate cancer once it is diagnosed.
Radical Prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland. Your risk for ED is highest with this type of treatment. Initially most men who have the organ removed have ED immediately afterwards. This can improve with time, however.
Radiation is another treatment option for prostate cancer. This treatment can be performed in two ways: one is radiation from an external source, and the other is the insertion of a radioactive pellet.
A third type of treatment is known as Nerve Sparing surgery. The problems with ED occur most commonly because the nerve involved in erection is located against the prostate gland. Often this nerve is cut during surgery, and it can also be damaged during radiation, but with nerve sparing surgery, the nerve is carefully avoided. 60-80% of men have “functional erections” after this treatment.
By comparison between prostatectomy and radiation, a study conducted on 1,187 men showed that 5 years after treatment:
- 21% of men continued to have healthy sex lives with normal erections after radical prostatectomy.
- 36% had normal erections after radiation therapy.
It’s important to understand that all treatments will affect erectile functions and nothing is written in stone. Talk with Dr. Wierschem about which treatment might be best for you.
Risk Factors For ED After Prostate Cancer
A man’s preoperative potency status also helps to determine his postoperative potency. There are several risk factors that can increase the possibility of ED.
Regardless of having prostate cancer, issues with erectile dysfunction increase with age. Consider your age when evaluating treatment options for prostate cancer and projecting successful outcomes.
A man with diabetes or cardiovascular disease is more likely to have ED after any treatment.
Smoking, being inactive, and taking any meds that hinder erection can all be risk factors.
The Tale Of Two Nerves
Men should realistically look at what constitutes a healthy sex life for them. There are actually two nerves that affect male sexuality. One controls erection and the other orgasm. The first may be damaged, but the second nerve usually is not.
There are many variables when predicting when and if men will have a healthy sex life after prostate cancer as mentioned above. Man can still have satisfying sexual function even without erections, because you can still have orgasms with a flaccid penis if stimulated properly.