1 out of every 7 men in the U.S will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
For those of us already diagnosed with prostate cancer, the biggest worry is if the tumor will spread.
The second biggest worry… erectile dysfunction.
This article will address the most common issues pertaining to prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.
These topics that include:
- Why and how prostate cancer can trigger ED.
- How to fix ED if you have prostate cancer.
- How to fix ED after getting prostate cancer treatment
- How to lower your risk of prostate cancer or growth
What is prostate cancer?
To begin with, your prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits right above your penis, behind your bladder.
To locate your prostate, the next time you pee, push out your urine as hard as you can.
The contraction you feel that’s forcing out every last dribble is your prostate.
The prostate’s main function is to help produce sperm – pumping out approximately 20% to 30% of your semen volume.
So it’s no surprise that cancerous growth in the prostate can also trigger erectile dysfunction.
Prostate cancer growth occurs when the cells on the prostate gland multiples, divide and gets bigger.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
When it comes to any cancer, hereditary is a big factor,
But a high fat, high sugar, overly processed diet also increases the risk of prostate cancer too.
For instance, it was reported by the World Journal of Men’s Health, that the rate of prostate cancer in Korea have been rising in recent years due to increasing consumption of Western food.
Prostate Cancer And Survival
For many prostate cancer sufferers, tumor growth is slow and doesn’t spread outside the gland.
The result? Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, on average 40 out of 41, do not require treatment, and survive prostate cancer
Unfortunately, for others, prostate cancer can be aggressive, and may require treatment to prevent it from spreading.
Why does prostate cancer cause erectile dysfunction?
Prostate cancer reduces sex drive and the frequency of sex.
That’s because as the tumor on the prostate grows, it can press up and constrict the bladder, causing lower urinary tract problems.
This can make it more challenging to achieve and maintain a strong erection.
But erectile dysfunction usually becomes more severe after undergoing treatment.
Prostate Cancer Treatments & Erectile Dysfunction
In recent years, experts have taken a more cautious stance against treatment options.
For instance, according to Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust, Norfolk, UK the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a prostatectomy should be the absolute last option.
In other words, treatment should only be reserved for aggressive prostate cancer growth.
A discussion between a doctor and patient is needed to determine if treatment is necessary and what thetreatment options are
That’s because current prostate cancer treatments lead to high risk of erectile dysfunction.
The most common prostate cancer treatments include:
- prostatectomy, a surgical procedure that removes the cancer in the prostate.
- Radiation (or chemo) therapy that shrinks the cancer in the prostate
- Hormone therapy that lowers testosterone to reduce prostate cancer cell production
- Cryotherapy or the freezing of cancer cells to prevent growth
All these treatment options end up ruining erectile function to patients because it does one or more of the following:
- damages or injures cavernous nerves (the nerves in your penis)
- damages or injures the veins, blood vessels and arteries in your penis
- eliminates testosterone and other vital male hormone
- triggers inflammation in the genitals
The odds of regaining erectile function after prostate cancer treatments vary from case to case.
Such factors include:
- Age of patient
- Severity of cancer or the location of the cancer in the prostate
- Erectile function status prior to treatment
- Skill of the surgeon
- How much nerves, blood vessels, arteries and veins in the penis were preserved during the procedure
How To Restore Erectile Function Post Prostate Cancer Treatment
The treatments most often used to help men regain their sexual function after prostate cancer treatment are the same drugs, remedies or devices that are currently popular in treating ED.
- PDE5 inhibitors such as vardenafil and sildenafil
- Herbal Supplements
- Intracavernosal injections such as Alprostadil
- Vacuum constriction device (penis pump)
- Testosterone replacement therapy
- Combination therapy (a combination of multiple treatments above)
How To Avoid Prostate Cancer Or Prevent It From Growing
Studies show that a traditional Eastern diet that is lower in fat, but higher in fruits, vegetables, grain are favorable for a healthy prostate.
Whereas a modern fast food Western diet can accelerate the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Afterall, the prostate is a sex gland.
And the proximity of the prostate to the urinary tract means that it affects penile function during sex.
Worse, prostate cancer treatment further exacerbates the severity of ED.
The same treatments to alleviate ED are also used in men with prostate cancer (but haven’t undergone prostate treatment) as well prostate cancer patients who have already went through treatment.
Prostate: Functions, diseases, structure, and tests (medicalnewstoday.com)
Cavernous Nerve Injury Resulted Erectile Dysfunction and Regeneration – PMC (nih.gov)
Radiation-induced erectile dysfunction: Recent advances and future directions – PMC (nih.gov)
The case against radical prostatectomy. – PMC (nih.gov)
Herb formula enhances treatment of impotent patients after penile venous stripping: a randomised clinical trials – Hsieh – 2016 – Andrologia – Wiley Online Library
Prostate Cancer and Sexual Function – PMC (nih.gov)