Radical Prostatectomy is an entirely appropriate procedure for the treatment of prostate cancer. Patients with localised cancer who undergo the surgery will generally be given a positive prognosis.
But, given the invasive nature of the surgery, there can be a number of significant side effects to the surgery, including:
- Urinary Incontinence
- Erectile Dysfunction, and
- Damage to the urethra and/or rectum.
It should be noted that radiation therapy for prostate cancer can also cause urinary incontinence and/or erectile dysfunction.
Around 1 in 2 men who undergo Radical Prostatectomy will develop urinary incontinence post-surgery, ranging from occasional dribbling to the need to use incontinence products, such as pads.
Some men find post-surgery issues like incontinence (and erectile dysfunction) quickly improve by themselves without the need for further treatment, most men will take up to 6 months to recover, others may take up to 12 months, while some men may never fully recover.
But, whatever the situation they find themselves in, almost all men will be able to speed their recovery time by seeking rehabilitation treatment before and after surgery.
This is because the ‘internal sphincter’ muscle at the base of the bladder, which helps to control urine flow, is typically removed along with the prostate gland. And while the body can still control bladder function without this muscle, most men need help doing this.
At Coregood Physiotherapy we help men to achieve successful post-surgery outcomes by helping them to strengthen and train their ‘external sphincter’ and pelvic floor muscles to take over their bladder control function.
We can also help to prepare the pelvic floor muscles pre-surgery by making sure they are strong and functioning properly. This will aid in the recovery time and effectiveness post-surgery.
Alongside urinary incontinence, erection problems are the other common side effect of Radical Prostatectomy. This can obviously have a devastating effect on a man’s confidence and sexual health.
Erection issues arise when the nerves that control a man’s ability to have an erection are damaged or removed during surgery (they lie near the prostate gland so it’s common for this to happen).
While around 50% of men are able to regain some ability to have erections, it can take time – sometimes as little as 3 months, but most often between 6-12 months.
A lot of this will depend on whether the man was able to have an erection before surgery, the level of nerve damage that has occurred during surgery, and the age of the man at the time of surgery.
Thankfully, seeking professional medical advice and treatment can improve both the rate and level of your recovery.
At Coregood Physiotherapy we can help strengthen and train the pelvic floor muscles that support erectile function, and help to stimulate nerve regeneration.