Helping your partner deal with prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, which is also known as impotence, occurs when a man is unable to have or keep an erection for sexual intercourse. The process leading to an erection is a complex interaction between physical and psychological factors. Individuals undergoing treatments like radiation therapy and surgery for prostate cancer often experience some form of erectile dysfunction.

Fortunately, there have been great advances over the past twenty or so years in the diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Here are some of the treatment options currently available:

  1. Drug Therapy

Three common oral drugs that prostate cancer patients who received radical prostatectomy commonly use are Levitra, Viagra and Cialis. The rates of success for these medications vary depending on the individual and the drug used, however, upwards of 70 percent of the patients taking any of these medications have shown a response to one or more of them.

  1. Mechanical Devices

Your partner can use a vacuum constriction device (vacuum pump), which is used to develop an erection mechanically. Using a vacuum seal, it forces blood into the penis. Once the vacuum seal is broken, a rubber ring is rolled onto the base of the penis to keep blood from escaping. This device has been shown to be successful in around 80 percent of men.

  1. Surgical Options

If other treatments are not working, your partner might want to consider surgical options. Surgery for erectile dysfunction involves inserting a three-piece penile implant, which would consist of:

  • Inserting a flexible, narrow plastic tube along the length of the penis
  • Attaching a fluid filled small balloon-type structure to his abdominal wall
  • Inserting a release button in his testicle.

If your loved one is struggling with this sensitive issue as they recover from prostate cancer, make an appointment with me to discuss your options: