Problems getting an erection
Surgery to the prostate can cause problems getting or keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction – ED). This is caused by damage to the nerves. Nerve-sparing techniques have reduced the risk of these problems, but often the need to remove all of the cancer cells makes it impossible to avoid nerve damage.
Lots of studies have looked at how many men might have problems getting an erection following a nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. The numbers tend to vary as it depends on different factors, such as:
- whether or not you had erection problems before treatment
- your age
- whether the surgeon was able to spare some or all of the nerves.
You can ask your surgeon to give you an idea of your likely risk of ED.
Some men who have surgery on its own may find that their ability to have an erection gradually returns. It may take as long as a year or two for this to happen. It’s less likely to return in men who have treatment after surgery, such as hormonal therapy or radiotherapy. There are various ways to cope with erection problems.