Erection probs common after prostate surgery

  • Deborah Condon

A new study has found that regaining normal erectile function after a common prostate operation is ‘rare'.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers found in men - over 2,000 Irish men are newly diagnosed every year. A common method of treatment is a radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it.

While this often removes the cancer, erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a side-effect. This is because the nerves which surround the prostate control a man's ability to have an erection, and these are often damaged during the procedure.

It was believed that this problem generally improved with time, however these latest findings suggest this improvement may have been overestimated, and it is actually rare to achieve an erection of the same quality as before the operation.

The researchers from Denmark surveyed 210 patients almost two years after they had undergone a radical prostatectomy. One of the questions queried whether their erectile functioning was ‘as good as before surgery'. Just 6% of the respondents said it was.

"The occurrence of sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer surgery is well known but our method of evaluating it is new. What this work shows is that having an erection as good as before surgery is a rare event, with the vast majority of men, more than 93% in our sample, experiencing some sexual problems after prostate cancer surgery," commented Dr Mikkel Fode of the Herlev Hospital in Copenhagen.

He said that while more research is needed to confirm this, these findings give ‘a more realistic idea of the real problems which most men have after prostate surgery'.

"This is important to know before deciding on undergoing the treatment as your choice might be affected. For men who have already undergone surgery it is important to know that they are not alone in the situation and that their physician will likely be able to help if they discuss the problem," Dr Fode noted.
He added that as the average age of patients undergoing this procedure is falling, ‘maintaining the ability to have an erection after an operation is increasingly important to men facing surgery'.

Details of these findings were presented at the recent European Association of Urology Congress in Madrid.

For more information on ED, see our Erection Problems Clinic here


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