Why Can Prostate Issues Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Prostate concerns commonly occur in men as they age, and the first symptoms may be difficulty urinating, or more frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. But, is there a correlation between prostate problems and developing erectile dysfunction?
Both of these conditions increase in frequency as men get older, so it is difficult to know if one is definitely correlated with the other, but there may be a few things going on when you have prostate problems that can lead to issues in the bedroom as well. Below, we will cover just how issues with the prostate gland including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer may have impacts on erectile function.
What does the prostate have to do with erectile function?
The prostate gland is wrapped around the male urethra, and when problems occur such as an enlargement, the development of a tumor, or inflammation of the prostate, it may damage or put pressure on the vessels and nerves which innervate and supply the penis. The proximity of the prostate to the penis can link these two together when issues occur and tissues are damaged. Damage to the nerves and vessels near the penile area may lead to temporary or lasting erectile dysfunction.
Additionally, some of the medications used to treat prostate concerns may have the side effect of potential erectile dysfunction, or prostate surgeries and radiation treatments can damage the surrounding tissues and lead to malfunction. The bottom line is, the prostate and the penis share a lot of the same territory, so problems with the prostate can directly or indirectly cause issues with erectile function.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. The prostate gland continues to grow throughout a man’s life, so, commonly when men get into older age, they may start experiencing urinary issues due to this enlargement. The enlargement of the prostate itself is unlikely to cause ED problems, but some of the medications or therapies used to treat it may lead to erectile disruptions.
Certain medications like alpha-blockers (Tamsulosin, Alfuzosin, Doxazosin, Prazosin) or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (Finasteride, Dutasteride) are commonly used to treat BPH, and they may have the side effect of erectile dysfunction in users.
If you are using these medications for your BPH and developed ED after starting your treatment, you may be able to speak with your doctor about other treatment options that have less risk of ED.If oral medications fail to help with your BPH symptoms, a doctor may perform a surgical resection of the prostate to help with your BPH. Sometimes this procedure can lead to ED in a small percentage of men.
Prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction
Prostate cancer may lead to erectile dysfunction in two ways, the tumor itself may invade and damage the surrounding tissues leading to erectile dysfunction, or the treatments to remove, treat, or shrink the tumor may lead to temporary or lasting erectile dysfunction.
A quickly developing case of ED may even be a sign of a developing prostate cancer, so abrupt changes in erectile function should always be brought to the attention of your doctor.
If required, surgical removal of the prostate gland due to prostate cancer may lead to the severing of arteries and nerves needed to develop an erection and may lead to ED in some patients. It is estimated that between 25% and 80% of men will regain their sexual function after a radical prostatectomy, but this will depend on the tumor location, nerve-sparing techniques used, the skill of the surgeon, and the patient’s age. It is important to note, that during the period of time that the vessels, nerves, and tissues are healing from surgery you may experience ED, but once everything has had time to recover, erectile function may improve.
Radiation therapy for prostate cancer may also lead to damage of the surrounding tissues and cause erectile dysfunction. Certain hormonal medications are sometimes utilized for the treatment of prostate cancer, such as Leuprolide, Goserelin, Flutamide, or Bicalutamide can also lead to hormonal effects that cause ED in some users.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction when you have prostate issues
If you have prostate conditions such as BPH or prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, there may be treatments that you can use to help regain some or all of your erectile function.
Oral medications like Sildenafil or Tadalafil are often used as first-line treatment for erectile dysfunction. These medications work by helping to improve and enhance blood flow to the penile tissues when you are aroused. However, these medications may not be appropriate for you if you have cardiovascular problems or take certain medications like nitrates.
If oral medications do not work for you or you are not a good candidate for them, injection medications to bring blood flow to the penile area like Alprostadil or compounded “Trimix” or “Bimix” injections may be able to help you. These medications are injected into the side of the penis before sexual activity. Injection medications are the most effective treatment for men who have ED due to prostate surgery.
An insertable urethral suppository containing Alprostadil called Muse may also help with ED in some men. If oral or injectable medications are not a good fit for you, vacuum or surgical options including a penile pump, a penile band, surgical implants, or vascular surgery may be able to help you maintain or achieve an erection. If you have a prostate condition along with erectile dysfunction, there are many potential treatment options, and your doctor can help you find the best ones for you.
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