Can You Get Erections After Prostate Cancer Treatment?

Mature male patient sitting on exam table looking out window in clinic room
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Have you ever wondered, will I be able to have an erection after prostate cancer treatment? You are not alone. Many men who are facing a prostate cancer diagnosis, or who have undergone prostate cancer treatment, are worried about whether or not they will be able to have an erection after prostate cancer.

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer develops in the prostate — a small gland that makes seminal fluid. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Prostate cancer usually grows over time and in the beginning usually stays within the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that is caught early has a better chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer that is more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Erection After Prostate Cancer Treatment

Following prostate cancer treatment of any kind, it is a possibility that you will no longer be able to have an erection. If you are unable to have an erection following treatment, this condition may last only for a short time or could be permanent.

All of the currently available, potentially curative treatment options for prostate cancer can result in temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction (ED), though many men who undergo treatment for prostate cancer see little or no ill effects to their erectile function. Radiation therapy, prostate surgery, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, and others can all result in erectile dysfunction.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to determine which men will have erectile dysfunction following treatment. Men with vascular conditions, diabetes, obesity, or pre-existing erectile problems are more likely to have erectile dysfunction following treatment.​

Studies that have sought to determine the chance of men having erectile dysfunction following prostatectomy, radiation, and other prostate cancer treatments have resulted in widely varying numbers. Some studies seem to show that only a small percentage of men have long-standing issues with ED, while others have shown much higher numbers.

For men who have undergone prostatectomy, long-term ED has been seen in up to 70 percent of men, but other studies have shown this to be more like 30 percent when using ED treatments such as Viagra.

Additionally, for men being treated with hormone deprivation therapy, the symptoms of ED often end after stopping the treatment.

It's important to keep in mind that even if you are faced with ED following prostate cancer treatment, all hope is not lost. Today, there are very effective treatments for ED, and many men can return to healthy sexual lives despite their ED.

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