How To Return To An Active Sex Life After Prostate Cancer Treatment
No matter the cancer, treatments often cause side effects that affect patients quality of life. But with prostate cancer, the potential side effects can be particularly concerning to men who are trying to decide which approach is right for them. Surgery, radiation therapy and other treatments may impact a patients sex life, causing challenges like low sex drive, loss of penis length, dry orgasm or low sperm counts. Despite the angst these issues may cause, experts say most of these side effects can be managed and many men have a good chance of returning to a full sex life after prostate cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, sexual dysfunction is a possibility for nearly all treatment options for prostate cancer, including surgery, says Scott Shelfo, MD, FACS, Medical Director of Urology at our hospital near Atlanta. The degree of dysfunction depends on many factors, including the patients overall health, co-existing medical problems, as well as the patients level of sexual function and ability before treatment.
Open Or Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy
In the more traditional approach to prostatectomy, called anopen prostatectomy, the surgeon operates through a single long skin incision to remove the prostate and nearby tissues. This type of surgery is done less often than in the past.
In a laparoscopic prostatectomy, the surgeon makes several smaller incisions and uses special long surgical tools to remove the prostate. The surgeon either holds the tools directly, or uses a control panel to precisely move robotic arms that hold the tools. This approach to prostatectomy has become more common in recent years. If done by experienced surgeons, the laparoscopic radical prostatectomy can give results similar to the open approach.
What Current Options Exist To Treat Erectile Dysfunction After Radical Prostatectomy
Options include pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions. Pharmacotherapies include the oral PDE-5 inhibitors , intraurethral suppositories , and intracavernous injections . Non-pharmacologic therapies, which do not rely on the biochemical reactivity of the erectile tissue, include vacuum constriction devices and penile implants .
Men who have undergone nerve-sparing technique should be offered therapies that are not expected to interfere with the potential recovery of spontaneous, natural erectile function. In this light, penile prosthesis surgery would not be considered an option in this select group, at least in the initial 2 year post-operative period, until it becomes evident in some individuals that such recovery is unlikely.
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Some Medical Reasons Why Your Semen Volume May Be Low
If your present semen volume is the same as its always been, the possibility of disease need not be a major consideration.
However, if youve noticed your semen volume has dwindled and is not as voluminous as it used to be, it could a sign that something is wrong.
Several medical conditions may cause a reduction in semen volume.
The most likely suspects are:
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Can A Man Have A Normal Sex Life After Prostate Surgery
The question is loaded what is a normal sex life anyway? Most men will experience a slowing down or drop off in their sexual activity as they get older.
That said, it is still a source of pleasure and intimacy amongst older couples, and for those for whom it is an important part of their relationship, they are keen to understand what sex after surgery will look and feel like.
The majority of men with a diagnose of localized prostate cancer will undergo a conservative approach known as active surveillance, but some of them will require surgery at some point.
The surgeons will excise the growth, or in some cases remove the entire prostate. There are also less invasive surgeries, such as the TURPs and other non-surgical therapies such as radiation therapy.
With careful intervention, most men will be able to resume a healthy sex life after the initial recovery period.
If you have had a radical prostatectomy without a nerve-sparing technique, theres a high chance you will experience a significant reduction in your sexual sensation and libido
Even then, the likelihood is that pleasure will be diminished, and men will only experience dry orgasms, as they will no longer ejaculate merely experiencing the mental side of orgasm. This is not common, and when it happens, it is temporary.
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Isnt Viagra Very Expensive
Viagra is indeed rather expensive. A box of four 100mg tablets will cost the NHS or you £23.50 per box. However, since December 2017 in the US, and amazingly since June 2013 in the UK, it has been legal for other drug manufacturers to make generic sildenafil and so, with a private prescription you can now pick up a box of 4 x 100mg sildenafil citratetables for as little as 79p, a thirty-fold price reduction. Its almost as cheap as paracetamol! The NHS is slowly waking up to this but still official NHS guidance only permits one packet of four tables per month for those who meet strict erectile dysfunction criteria. We hope this will change soon, given that 11 boxes could be purchased for the £8.80 standard NHS prescription charge! Furthermore, Cialis also came off patent in December 2018 in the US and we can therefore expect generic tadalafil, which currently costs £54.99 for a box of 28 x 2.5mg cialis is generally taken daily due to its longer half-life to come down to similar prices.
Treatments For Erection Problems And Penile Rehabilitation
Different treatments work for different people and they can have side effects. Talk through your options with a doctor or nurse with expertise in this area. Ask them to refer you to your local Erectile Dysfunction Clinic if they are not able to give you this specialist advice.
As well as causing erection difficulties, surgery and radiotherapy can cause a shortening in the length and width of the penis. So treatments for erection difficulties are part of a programme called penile rehabilitation. This is also called erectile dysfunction rehabilitation.
The aim of penile rehabilitation is to:
- maintain blood flow to the penis
- reduce damage to the muscle and tissue in the penis
- provide a stimulus for erections
Using and stimulating the penis keeps the tissues active and prevents them from becoming inflexible
This can hopefully help you to adapt to changes in your sexual function and relationships.
A penile rehabilitation programme includes:
- counselling and sex therapy
- pellet injections into the shaft of the penis
- healthy living such as exercise, weight control not smoking and pelvic floor exercises
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What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises And Can Improve Erection Quality
As we age, we lose muscle tone throughout your body. That includes the muscles that men need to maintain erections. However, there are physical exercises men can do to reduce erectile dysfunction. The best ones are known as pelvic floor exercises or kegels.
Those muscles are the core of how your body maintains blood flow to the penis and therefore keeps erections strong.
They put pressure on the veins in your penis, preventing blood from flowing back into the rest of your body. If they arent strong enough then even if you can get an erection, you wont be able to keep it.
The process starts with identifying the muscles you need to activate. Thats best achieved by lying down with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Thats when you breathe out and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for 3 seconds.
Its important that you identify the right group, at the base of your buttocks, on either side of your perineum. It can be easy to mistake other muscles, such as the legs or stomach for the pelvic floor.
Once you are confident you have the right muscle group, then doing the exercises in a seated or standing position three times a day can firm and strengthen the muscles, with a likely improvement within four to six weeks.
Some men find that after the initial strengthening that options like Pilates become appealing as not only are there many exercises which improve the pelvic floor, but they can improve overall posture and strength.
Prostatectomy And Sexual Issues
As a man, your prostate gland plays several important roles in your bodys sexual and urinary function.
During sex, your prostate gland is responsible for releasing seminal fluid, or semen, into your urethra. As you reach orgasm and ejaculate, the muscle tissue of your prostate forces semen and sperm out from your penis.
The nerves that surround your prostate also play an important role in allowing blood to flow to the erectile tissue of your penis when youre sexually aroused.
Because prostate surgery involves removing the prostate gland, its normal to lose some parts of your normal sexual function after the surgery.
For example, radical prostatectomy involves cutting the connection between your urethra and your testicles. This means that sperm is no longer able to flow down your urethra and out the tip of your penis during sex.
As a result of this, men who undergo radical prostatectomy surgery can still reach orgasm, but arent able to ejaculate.
Several different approaches are used to remove your prostate gland during surgery. Some of these approaches particularly those used to treat prostate cancer may result in damage to the nerves that surround your prostate gland, testicles and penis.
Nerve damage caused by prostatectomy surgery may affect your erectile health. If your nerves need to be cut during the procedure , you may find it difficult or impossible to get and/or maintain an erection after surgery.
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Why Is There Increasing Concern At This Time Regarding Erectile Dysfunction Issues Following Radical Prostatectomy
The reality of the recovery process after radical prostatectomy today is that erectile function recovery lags behind functional recovery in other areas. Patients are understandably concerned about this issue and, following months of erectile dysfunction, become skeptical of reassurances that their potency will return.
How Long Does It Take For Nerves To Heal After Prostatectomy
How long does nerve regeneration take? Recovery of potency may be very rapid in younger patients and is sometimes immediate. However, for most patients the recovery is gradual and can take up to 3 years to plateau, although typically a patient sees a return to erectile function after about 12 months .
Your Emotions And Sex
Your prostate cancer and its treatment wonât just affect your body. Theyâll also have a serious impact on your emotions. Stress and anxiety can trigger your body to make adrenaline, which gets in the way of having sex. The more you worry, the worse the struggle. If youâre in a relationship, your partner will be going through many of the same feelings.
One of the most important things you can do is to talk to your partner. Have an honest conversation about your fears and expectations when it comes to sex. Dont assume they know how you feel. Being open with each other will help you both feel supported and help you work together to make any adjustments that you may need to stay intimate.
Talking with a mental health professional either one-on-one or with your partner can be a powerful way to help manage your emotions. A therapist can also prescribe medications that may ease stress and anxiety. A professional sex therapist can help you and your partner find ways to improve your sex life. It may also be helpful to join a support group where you can talk with others who share your experience.
Prostate Cancer Foundation: Erectile Dysfunction.
UCLA Urology: Prostate Cancer: Dealing with Erectile Dysfunction.
Albaugh, J. Reclaiming Sex & Intimacy After Prostate Cancer: A Guide for Men and Their Partners. Anthony J. Jannetti, Inc., 2012.
Harvard Prostate Knowledge: Achieving orgasm after radical prostatectomy.
What Is Erection Restoration
UCLA HealthThe Mens Clinic offers a penile rehabilitation program for men after prostate cancer therapy. You do not have to have your cancer care through UCLA Health to see the specialists at The Mens Clinic. The idea of penile rehabilitation is to optimize blood flow to the erectile tissue as it is recovering from surgery or radiation therapy.
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What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About Cialis And Generic Cialis
- CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® can cause serious side effects. Serious, but rare, side effects include:
- An erection that wont go away . If you get an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away. Priapism must be treated as soon as possible or lasting damage can happen to your penis, including the inability to have erections.
- Changes in vision. Color vision changes, such as seeing a blue tinge to objects or having difficulty telling the difference between the colors blue and green.
- Sudden decrease or loss of vision. In rare instances, men taking PDE5 inhibitors reported a sudden decrease or loss of vision in one or both eyes. It is uncertain whether PDE5 inhibitors directly cause the vision loss. If you experience sudden decrease or loss of vision, stop taking PDE5 inhibitors, including CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®, and call a healthcare provider right away.
- Sudden loss or decrease in hearing. Sudden loss or decrease in hearing, sometimes with ringing in the ears and dizziness, has been rarely reported in people taking PDE5 inhibitors, including CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®. It is not possible to determine whether these events are related directly to the PDE5 inhibitors, to other diseases or medications, to other factors, or to a combination of factors. If you experience these symptoms, stop taking CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® and contact a healthcare provider right away.
Coping With Infertility After Prostate Surgery
The prostate is one of the only organs in a males body that never stops growing. This growth is slow and continual throughout your life and many doctors dont fully understand why it happens. In some instances, the prostate grows larger than your body can accommodate, and the result is benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate. While this isnt life threatening, it can lead to an array of uncomfortable symptoms. There are treatment options for benign prostatic hyperplasia, with the most invasive being surgery. Some men will also develop prostate cancer during their lives. While prostate cancer has one of the highest curability rates, it needs to be diagnosed early so that surgery can eradicate the cancer completely. Regardless of why you need prostate surgery, certain instances can lead to problems such as infertility. In this article, well explore everything you need to know about the prostate and how to cope with infertility after prostate surgery.
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When Should I Call My Primary Provider
- Have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours
- Experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both of your eyes
- Experience a sudden decrease or loss hearing
- Take too much CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®
- Have an allergic reaction to CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®
- Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
Talking Counselling And Sex Therapy
Talking to your partner about your erection difficulties can help. Or it may help to talk to a close friend if you are not in a relationship.
Not talking to those close to you could be one of the main barriers to coping with this side effect. You might then find it easier to consider ways that could help.
Counsellors or therapists can help if youre worrying about anything to do with your sex life and sexuality. You can be referred by your GP to a counsellor or therapist within the NHS. You might need to go on a waiting list to see them.
Talk to your GP to find out what is available in your area. Your local hospital or your local Erectile Dysfunction Clinic might have this service.
The drugs used to treat erection problems include:
These belong to a group of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. They work by increasing blood flow to the penis. For the drugs to work, men need to be aroused and have some sort of sexual stimulation. In other words, the drugs wont cause an immediate erection, some foreplay is usually needed.
As drugs work best in men who have sexual desire, they might not help some men who are having hormone therapy. There is limited evidence to say these drugs work when having hormone therapy. But some specialists believe that they are still worth a try if you would like to give them a go.
Possible side effects of PDE 5 inhibitors include:
- temporary problems with vision
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The Prostate Gland And Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland is a male reproductive organ that sits around the urethra, the outlet tube for urine, just below the bladder. The glands surface is usually smooth and regular. The prostate is about the size of a walnut.
The prostate gland releases a clear fluid into the urethra that represents up to a third of the semen during ejaculation. One of the functions of the fluid is to carry the sperm and help sperm movement.
The prostate also helps the drive of semen during ejaculation.
Surgery For Prostate Cancer And Ed
Prostate cancer tends to be a slow-growing cancer. Surgery may be a good option if your doctor believes the cancer is contained in the prostate gland. Surgery is also dependent on age, overall health, and other factors.
A radical prostatectomy involves the removal of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a donut-shaped gland that surrounds the urethra just below the bladder. The urethra carries urine and semen out from the body through the penis.
There are some risks associated with surgery. Two small bundles of nerves on either side of the prostate are vulnerable to injury during the operation. A type of operation called nerve sparing surgery may be possible. This depends on the size and location of the cancer.
Surgery may require removal of some nerves if theres a chance the cancer has invaded one or both sets of nerves. If both sets of nerves are removed, you may not be able to achieve an erection without the assistance of medical devices.
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