September 23, 2015

Erectile dysfunction: Annoying, but treatable!

Almost all prostate cancer patients experience some erectile dysfunction the first few months following treatment.

Indeed, the nerves and blood vessels in the area are very fragile and any procedure in the region can cause some form of trauma.  However, nearly all men will see a substantial improvement within the first year after treatment.

How erectile dysfunction is treated following prostate cancer treatment?

Erectile dysfunction can be a major source of concern for prostate cancer patients. Fortunately, this troublesome side effect can be treated.

Here are some of the main treatment options for erectile dysfunction for men who have received treatment for prostate cancer:

1.     Oral Medications

Oral medications help blood to flow. This allows the muscles in the penis to relax. These treatments include Cialis, Levitra and Viagra. The rapidity of absorption and duration of drug action depend on the type of medication. Usually, the drug takes effect in about 30 to 60 minutes. The erectile nerves must be intact for this type of medication to be effective. It is important to note that, oral medication is not for everyone. This treatment option is not recommended for prostate cancer patients with heart problems or receiving treatment for BPH.

2.     Alternative treatments

Prostate cancer patients can also treat their erectile dysfunction with an alternative treatment called MUSE. This drug can be effective even if the erectile nerves have been damaged. This option consists of inserting a medicated pellet half the size of a grain of rice into the urethra. Like oral medication, this medication stimulates blood flow into the penis. Usually, an erection occurs within 10 minutes after the insertion of the pellet and lasts for about 30 to 60 minutes. Although results are often inconsistent, MUSE medication has an efficiency rate of 50%.

Penile injections are another type of alternative treatment. This method consists of injecting a drug or a combination of drugs directly into the penis through a fine needle. The drug takes about 10 minutes to work. The erection can last between 30 to 45 minutes. This treatment option has an efficiency rate of 85%. However, it is rarely used because most men are not willing to inject themselves on a regular basis.

3.     Mechanical Devices

The vacuum constriction device (vacuum pump) is a good alternative for prostate cancer patients who are unwilling or unable to use any form of medication. This for of treatment mechanically creates an erection, by forcing blood into the penis using a vacuum seal. The device has an 80 to 90% success rate. However, this device requires some learning and good communication between partners.

4.    Surgery

Another option for treating erectile dysfunction is to surgically insert a flexible or inflatable penile implant. All parts are concealed inside the body so that nothing is visible from the outside. This treatment should only be used as a last resort, as there is no turning back. The prosthesis does not affect orgasm, ejaculation or sensation. As with any other surgery, implanting a penile prosthesis brings a risk of infection, in which case the prosthesis will need to be removed. More than 70% of men are satisfied with their implants even after 10 years.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about the erectile dysfunction treatment option that is adapted to your situation.

For more information on treatment options for erectile dysfunction, click here.

You have questions or concerns? Speak to one of our health professionals.

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