Will Erectile Dysfunction Be an Unwelcome Side Effect of Prostate Cancer Treatments?
A cancer diagnosis often comes with a long list of undesirable symptoms, painful treatment options, and long-lasting side effects. Unfortunately, prostate cancer is no exception.
One of the most common concerns for recently diagnosed men is how the treatment process will impact sexual performance.
Will prostate cancer treatments increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction?
How Prostate Cancer Treatments Affect Sexual Performance
There are two primary treatment options for prostate cancer, surgery and radiation. Sometimes, treatment involves a combination of these two strategies. Regardless of the treatment option used, there is a chance that erectile dysfunction will be one of the many side effects. The nerves and blood vessels in the penis, which work in conjunction to establish an erection, are very delicate. Any trauma, such as that caused by surgery or radiation, could inhibit the functionality of these organs.
Studies have found that erectile dysfunction is quite common for most men in the first few months following treatment. Fortunately, for many men, this inhibited sexual performance is only temporary.
Assuming the treatment process allowed the nerves to remain intact, nearly all men report substantial improvements within the first year. By the second year, erectile dysfunction remained a lingering issue for just a small percentage of patients, with as many as 60% returned to pre-cancer functionality. While radiation patients see improvements quicker than patients who had surgery, functionally won’t improve much over time if radiation was used. The initial results may be indicative of what can be expected down the road.
Of course, results will vary, and there are numerous factors that will impact the chance of erectile dysfunction following treatment. The skill level of the surgeon, the precision of the radiation, the damage to nerves, and more will influence functionality. Additionally, men with other preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, will have greater difficulty overcoming the initial erectile dysfunction caused by the treatment process.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction after Prostate Cancer
Erectile dysfunction treatment options are numerous, and some techniques are more successful for recovering cancer patients than others.
In general cases of erectile dysfunction, oral medication has proven most effective and convenient. Following prostate cancer treatment, 75% of men with erectile dysfunction are able to achieve an erection with the assistance of oral medication.
However, oral medications aren’t always safe following radiation treatments or for men with a noncancerous prostate growth. Erectile dysfunction medications can interfere with the alpha-blockers patients may be taking.
There are alternate ED treatments available if oral medication isn’t an option. For example, a doctor may be able to provide medicated pellets to insert into the urethra. Injections in the penis are an option as well.
Interested in Learning More?
Are you interested in learning more about the risk of erectile dysfunction following prostate cancer? If you’ve been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and want to prepare for what’s to come or if treatments have already caused sexual performance issues, contact the Low T Medical Clinic today.
Our trained medical professionals can create a customized treatment plan to address your individual health concerns. Contact us today.