In a nutshell
This study investigated the long term consequences of radical prostatectomy on sexual and erectile function.
Treatment for prostate cancer often includes a radical prostatectomy (the complete surgical removal of the prostate gland). Following this procedure, patients may experience urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and a general decline in sexual function. The present study evaluated recovery of erectile and sexual function over a period of 10 years following radical prostatectomy. This is the first study assessing changes in sexual function during such an extended period of time.
Methods & findings
This study included 1836 men who underwent a radical prostatectomy. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their sexual and erectile function at 3, 6, 12, 24, 96 and 120 months after surgery.
Results showed that after an initial deterioration in erectile and sexual function, recovery of sexual function occurred steadily throughout the 2 years following surgery. At 2 years after surgery, the majority of men reached peak functional levels. Between 2 and 8 years after surgery, the majority of men reported no change in erectile function. Sexual function remained stably high during this long follow up period. Younger men (below the age of 60), and patients reporting higher sexual function before surgery, were more likely to report greater improvements in sexual and erectile function after surgery.
The bottom line
This study concluded that recovery of sexual and erectile function proceeds steadily throughout the first 2 years following surgery. The majority of men reach peak functional levels within 2 years, and functional improvements seem to last for an extended period without decline.
The fine print
Some of the patients participating in this study received a variety of drugs and/or therapies intended to improve sexual and erectile function. These included Sildenafil (Viagra), penile injections and implantation of a penile prosthesis. These treatments were not taken into account during the analysis of results (treated patients were not compared to an untreated control group).
Consult with your physician regarding the recovery of sexual function following radical prostatectomy.