If you’ve undergone surgical treatment for prostate cancer, a side effect you may be anticipating is erectile dysfunction. Based on this, it is common to have questions about what exactly that means, and whether sex after radical prostatectomy is still possible. In most situations, the answer is yes. But getting there will take time and patience, and the sensations of sex you had before surgery may feel different. The following are honest answers as you set on your path to recovery.
Your ability to achieve an erection again and pursue sex after radical prostatectomy will be based on how much of the muscles and nerves surrounding the prostate were impacted by the surgery, as well as how strong and dependable your erections were before prostate cancer.
A prostatectomy can damage the network of nerves and blood vessels, which can reduce penile blood flow and oxygenation. Over time this can cause loss of elasticity in the penis, making erections harder to achieve.
If the muscles and nerves surrounding the prostate were damaged by the surgery, your ability to achieve erections may be impaired. But keep in mind it is possible to still orgasm even without a full erection. On the other hand, if the muscles and nerves are still intact, most men are able to slowly regain erectile function over time. Sources indicate 60% to 80% of men report achieving “functional” erections after nerve-sparing surgery. This Comprehensive Guide to Sex after Prostate Cancer explains more about expectations and outcomes.
Start with rehab.
Recognizing that it may take time, you can take steps to start the rehabilitation process by improving penile blood flow to the penis. This protects the sensitive tissues and promotes recovery of erectile function. This may involve using medications or other strategies to start getting regular erections again.
One strategy is to use a penis pump. A penis pump is a simple device that involves placing an acrylic tube over the penis. One end of the tube is held to the base of the penis, while the other end is attached to a vacuum pump. The pump creates a vacuum suction that draws blood into the penis creating an erection. Once the erection is achieved, a constriction ring is placed around the base of the penis holding the erection in place.
This option is desirable for many men who have ED after prostate cancer because it is non-invasive and doesn’t involve additional doctor’s appointments or medications. It lets men practice getting erections again, over time and on their own terms. It can help promote that essential blood flow and rebuild penile tissue.
Returning to active and satisfying sex after radical prostatectomy can happen. It starts with an understanding of what was impacted by the procedure. From there, you can experiment with new sensations in your arousal and orgasm, and also explore penile rehabilitation by aiming to achieve erections again as soon as possible. Get that blood flowing!
For more information on what sex after prostatectomy will be like, browse our blogs. And download our free ebook, Prostate Cancer and ED: What You Need to Know.