Erectile Dysfunction After Prostatectomy

Erectile dysfunction after prostatectomy is a common concern for many men who undergo this life-saving procedure. In this informative guide, we will delve into the various aspects of this issue, offering insights, expert advice, and personal experiences to help you navigate this challenging journey. 

Prostatectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is situated in the male pelvis, below the urinary bladder. It surrounds the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The procedure is used to treat a number of conditions affecting the prostate.

Erectile dysfunction after a prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy is a type of prostate surgery that removes the prostate gland to treat prostate cancer. This procedure may often cause a variety of side effects, one of the most challenging being erectile dysfunction (ED). ED makes it difficult to maintain an erection, impacting the quality of life and intimate relationships. 

Why does prostatectomy cause erectile dysfunction? 

Prostatectomy disrupts the delicate balance of nerves, blood vessels, and tissues responsible for erections. During surgery, these structures can be damaged or temporarily impaired, leading to ED. Additionally, the psychological and emotional impact of cancer treatment can also contribute to this condition. 

How long does ED last after a prostatectomy? 

The duration of ED after prostatectomy varies from person to person. While some may experience temporary ED that improves over time, others may face long-term challenges. It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider to understand your specific situation and explore treatment options. 

What is the treatment for ED after a prostatectomy? 

Penile injections: 

These medications, injected into the shaft of the penis using a thin needle, are considered the most reliable treatment for ED, according to the American Cancer Society. Your doctor will show you how to give yourself these injections when you want to have an erection. 

Urethral pellets: 

One pellet is placed into the opening of the penis, where it melts, leading to an erection. However, this approach is less reliable than injections. 

A vacuum erection device: 

This is a plastic cylinder placed over the penis and attached to a suction pump. The pump creates a vacuum that forces blood into the penis to create an erection. Once the penis is erect, a special elastic band is placed around the base of the penis to hold in the blood and maintain the erection. The band can be left in place for up to 30 minutes. 

Shockwave therapy: 

This innovative treatment uses low-intensity shockwaves to stimulate blood flow and improve erections. It’s a non-invasive option treatment that has shown promising results for some individuals. 

A Healthy Sex Life After Prostate Cancer 

Regaining a healthy and fulfilling sex life after prostate cancer treatment is possible. It requires a multifaceted approach, addressing physical, emotional, and psychological aspects. 

What to Expect 

Understanding that changes in sexual function are normal after prostatectomy is the first step. Open communication with your partner and healthcare provider is crucial in managing expectations and finding solutions. 

Penis Rehab 

Penis rehabilitation exercises and techniques can help maintain penile health and function. These exercises, often recommended by urologists, aim to improve blood flow and maintain tissue elasticity. 

Medical Treatments 

In addition to the treatments mentioned earlier, your doctor may prescribe oral medications, such as Viagra or Cialis, to help with ED. These medications can be a valuable part of your treatment plan. 

Healthy Habits 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for overall well-being and sexual health. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and managing stress can positively impact your recovery. 

Your Approach to Sex 

Exploring new ways to experience intimacy with your partner can be an enriching journey. Focus on emotional connection and intimacy beyond just physical aspects. 

Your Emotions and Sex 

Coping with the emotional toll of ED after prostatectomy is essential. Seek support from healthcare professionals and support groups to address any psychological challenges. 


Erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery (prostatectomy) is a challenging but manageable condition. By seeking the right treatment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and nurturing emotional connections, individuals can regain their confidence and enjoy a fulfilling sex life after prostate cancer treatment. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and support is available to help you navigate it successfully. 

GainsWave Therapy: Increase Ejaculation and Semen Volume

More than 30 clinical studies conclude that shockwave therapy is effective in increasing blood flow to the penis. Find out if you are a candidate for the GAINSWave procedure and get started now.

Written by Dr. Kendrick Heywood. Originally published by Gainswave.
Medically reviewed by David Cunningham, MD, GAINSWave’s Clinical Advisor.


Is it normal to experience erectile dysfunction after a prostatectomy?

Yes, it is common to experience ED after prostatectomy due to the disruption of nerves and blood vessels during the procedure. However, the severity and duration vary among individuals.

Can ED after prostatectomy be reversed?

In many cases, ED after prostatectomy can be managed and improved with appropriate treatment, such as penile injections, vacuum devices, or shockwave therapy. 

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help with ED after prostatectomy?

Yes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management can positively impact sexual function. 

How can I discuss ED with my partner?

Open and honest communication is key. Approach the conversation with empathy, reassurance, and a focus on finding solutions together. 

Are there support groups for individuals facing ED after prostatectomy?

Yes, many support groups and online communities provide a safe space for individuals and their partners to share experiences and seek guidance. 

Is shockwave therapy a safe and effective treatment for ED?

Shockwave therapy has shown promise as a non-invasive treatment option for ED. However, its effectiveness may vary from person to person, and it should be discussed with a healthcare provider. 


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.”

Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatments: “Life After Prostate Cancer Treatment; Sexual Healing.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Penile rehabilitation after prostate cancer surgery,” “5 natural ways to overcome erectile dysfunction.”

Mayo Clinic: “Erectile dysfunction,” “Dietary supplements for erectile dysfunction: A natural treatment for ED?”

American Cancer Society: “Treating Sexual Problems for Men with Cancer.”

City of Hope: “Men and Prostate Cancer: The Emotional Impact.”

Sexual Medicine Society of North America: “After Prostate Cancer, Take Care of Your Relationship.”

Future Oncology: “Prostate Cancer: Quality of Life, Psychosocial Implications and Treatment Choices.”

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