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What is the Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and the Prostate?

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  • Written By: A. Garrett
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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As men age, physical problems related to erectile dysfunction and the prostate become intertwined. Erectile dysfunction, the inability of the penis to become or remain erect, is one of several symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate. Also, erectile dysfunction is a possible side effect of several of the treatments for prostate cancer.

Symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate include a blocked urethra and changes in bladder function. These symptoms can also affect a man’s ability to achieve a full erection. Necessary blood flow to the penis may be inhibited by an enlarged prostate and lead to impotence.

Prostate cancer treatments are the most common causes of issues related to erectile dysfunction and the prostate. The first possible treatment involves the extraction of the entire prostate gland via a surgical procedure. A second, less invasive course of prostate cancer eradication involves radiation treatment. Cryosurgery is another alternative that works by freezing the cancerous tissue. Finally, hormone therapy is also a viable option for remedying prostate cancer.

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Removal of the entire prostate, radical prostatectomy, results in immediate erectile dysfunction. The effects of erectile dysfunction after the prostate removal process can be mitigated by the manner in which the radical prostatectomy is performed. A form of surgery referred to as the nerve-sparing technique removes the prostate without damaging the nerves necessary to achieving an erection and therefore allows for the recovery of erectile function within a year. If the non-nerve-sparing technique is employed, the restoration of any form of erectile function is highly unlikely.

Radiation therapy gradually causes erection prostate issues. The radiation is concentrated on the prostate and kills the cancer cells. Within six months of treatment, problems related to erectile dysfunction and the prostate may present themselves in the form of impotency. Newer forms of radioactive treatment, such as the implantation of radioactive “seeds” that treat the cancer from inside the body, reduce the possibility of issues related to erectile dysfunction and the prostate developing.

Cryosurgery involves freezing the prostate. Consequently, the nerves facilitating erections are also frozen, leading to erectile dysfunction. Decreased production of testosterone is a side effect of hormone therapy. Since testosterone plays a role in the ability to achieve an erection, a lower amount of it contributes to erectile dysfunction.

Issues related to erectile dysfunction and the prostate can be circumvented in several ways. Pharmaceutical products like Viagra relax the muscles in the penis and improve blood flow to the penis, resulting in the achievement of an erection. This can benefit those suffering from an enlarged prostate gland. Injections of medication directly into penile veins also help alleviate the symptoms caused by erectile dysfunction.

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