Study: prostate surgery may destroy your sex life

Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in American men.  1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer during his lifetime. A recent study out of the University of Michigan found that of the side effects associated with prostate-removal surgery, sexual dysfunction is often much more devastating than urinary incontinence. Prostate cancer survivors gradually adapt to urinary troubles, but many have an extremely difficult time dealing with decreased sexual function.

The study followed 434 men who suffered from a form of the cancer requiring removal of the entire gland during a prostatectomy. The surgery has a high rate of success, at least at removing the cancer, but it

causes many problems related to sexual function and the urinary system that drastically impact the quality of these men's lives.

To better understand the long term effects of this procedure, researchers gave these men surveys before and in increments after their surgery to measure how various aspects of their lives were impacted.

Even though only 38% returned to the same level of urinary function after a year, 74% felt just as troubled by their urinary problems as they reported feeling before the surgery. They had adapted to their new level of function. However, this divergent patter was the opposite when it came to sexual function. The patients attitudes regarding their impaired sexual function didn't increase the longer these patients had to adapt to their handicap.

This discrepancy may have had to do with the fact that these men didn't undergo a recovery program that addressed their sexual function. They were instructed on how to do Kegel exercises and were given prescriptions that would help to restore their erectile function, but this advice wasn't followed up on.

Since this study was completed, the researchers have instituted a long-term erectile rehabilitation program to aid sexual recovery.