Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men. Every year in the US, over 250,000 cases are diagnosed, 34,000 of which lead to death. Many experience erectile dysfunction (ED) after or before prostate cancer. This complication raises two questions: is erectile dysfunction a sign of prostate cancer, and can prostate cancer cause erectile dysfunction?
Since erectile dysfunction is such a sensitive subject, many patients may not feel comfortable talking about it with their physician. We are here to help change that; keep reading to learn more about the connection between prostate cancer and ED.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is the small gland below the bladder that creates seminal fluid in the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and cause a lump in the tissue. As the disease progresses, the tumor can spread to other organs. Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death in men, and that is due to its late detection. Identifying its signs early and seeking help can reduce the risk. So is erectile dysfunction a sign of prostate cancer to watch out for? Let’s find out.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Symptoms of prostate cancer may differ slightly with each patient and the stage of disease, but the most common ones are:
- Bone pain
- Frequent urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in the urine and semen
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Pain in the hips, back, upper thighs, or pelvis
- Weak or interrupted urine flow with pain and burning
- Trouble urinating and emptying the bladder completely
As you can see, erectile dysfunction is a sign of prostate cancer. That is no surprise since even enlarged prostates can cause erectile dysfunction. But how can prostate cancer cause erectile dysfunction?
How Does Prostate Cancer Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?
Prostate cancer does not directly lead to erectile dysfunction, but its treatments do. Nearly all men experience ED after receiving treatment for prostate cancer. That is because the physical aspects that control erections are delicate, and any trauma to the area can disrupt their function. Prostate cancer treatments usually affect one of the following aspects of erectile function.
Erectile dysfunction is not only a sign of prostate cancer, but a result of it caused by lower production of testosterone by the body. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer treatment can often affect the body’s ability to produce testosterone. Lower testosterone levels lead to low libido and difficulty obtaining an erection.
Undergoing surgery or radiation therapy as a treatment course for prostate cancer can disrupt the nerves and vessels near the penis. These structures are delicate, and any impact on them can affect the firmness of erections.
Considering that erectile dysfunction is a sign of prostate cancer, it’s not surprising that orgasm will be more difficult to achieve after treatment. Lower libido and firmness contribute to this issue. Even if you orgasm, you will feel some discomfort.
Prostate cancer can cause erectile dysfunction in the form of minimal to no ejaculate. Prostate cancer therapies often affect the seminal vesicles responsible for producing semen. As these structures are affected, nothing may come out even if you reach orgasm.
Types of Treatments for Prostate Cancer
Prostatectomy includes the removal of the prostate and the seminal vesicles while sparing the other nerves. This nerve-sparing becomes harder in men with high-risk prostate cancer at the later stages of the disease. Erectile dysfunction, which is a sign of prostate cancer, can begin immediately after the surgery.
Radiation therapy aims beams at the prostate to kill cancer cells. While new vessel-sparing techniques are being developed to prevent ED, most therapies damage nerves and blood vessels associated with erections. Erectile dysfunction is less severe with radiation therapy than with prostatectomy, but it’s present nonetheless.
Hormone therapy or androgen suppression therapy reduces the number of androgens or male hormones in the body to stop the growth of cancer cells. The drugs used in this treatment also have testosterone-reducing effects that can cause erectile dysfunction, which is a sign of prostate cancer.
Does ED Improve After Prostate Cancer Treatment?
While prostate cancer treatment can cause erectile dysfunction, overall healing statistics vary after surgery. Following treatment, ED symptoms will may improve, and there is a possibility that you will regain sexual functionality. For instance, reports show that after nerve-sparing prostatectomy, 40%-50% of men with intact nerves returned to their regular sexual function within a year.
The rates depend on each person’s pre-treatment function, age, and the doctor’s skills. So it’s crucial to find experienced doctors for your treatments. However, even if your ED doesn’t improve with time, there are other ways you can reclaim your sex life.
How Can You Manage Erectile Dysfunction?
While erectile dysfunction is a sign and consequence of prostate cancer, multiple options are available to help you manage it. From ED supplements to injectable medications and mechanical devices, the choice comes down to your personal needs and preferences. Here are some of your options:
Oral medications allow blood to flow to the penis by relaxing the muscles in the area. More than 75% of prostate cancer survivors have seen improvements with these medications. Tadalafil, Sildenafil, and Vardenafil are some of these oral drugs.
If oral medications don’t work, injectable ones are available. Drugs such as Prostaglandin are injected into the penis before sex to help patients obtain an erection.
Erectile dysfunction, which is a sign of prostate cancer, can also be managed with mechanical devices such as vacuum constriction devices or realistic penis sleeves.
Knowing that prostate cancer treatment can cause erectile dysfunction, doctors might recommend surgery as a solution to battle ED. The surgical option includes inserting a penile implant. However, this might not be the best option for those with other health conditions.
Battle ED With the Help of Rx Sleeve
Now that you know erectile dysfunction is a sign of prostate cancer, you can easily manage it with the help of RX Sleeve. We are here to help you reclaim your sex life with non-invasive solutions.
Our penis sleeves are made with certified Skin Safe Silicone. This safe and comfortable material allows you to be intimate with your partner without worrying about ED. Shop now to restore your sex life, and visit our men’s wellness blog for more interesting articles.