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% of men, but other studies have shown this to be more like 30% when using ED treatments like 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.
Kundu SD, Roehl KA, Eggener SE, et al. Potency, continence and complications in 3,477 consecutive radical retropubic prostatectomies. J Urol. 2004;172(6 Pt 1):2227.
Mettlin CJ, Murphy GP, Sylvester J, et al. Results of hospital cancer registry surveys by the American College of Surgeons: outcomes of prostate cancer treatment by radical prostatectomy. Cancer. 1997;80(9):1875.
Wilke DR, Parker C, Andonowski A, et al. Testosterone and erectile function recovery after radiotherapy and long-term androgen deprivation with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists. BJU Int. 2006;97(5):963.