Each person may experience side effects of prostate cancer surgery differently. For some people these side effects are temporary. The recovery process might get frustrating, but remember that these changes happen to many individuals — and they can be managed.
Try to stay hopeful about the journey ahead.
Common side effects
of prostate cancer surgery
Changes to your sex life
After surgery, most individuals will experience:
Also known as erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence. All individuals will experience at least some short-term erectile dysfunction, because the nerves that are responsible for erections are harmed during surgery. How well and how quickly your erections recover will depend on the extent of the damage to the nerves, your age, and how strong your erections were before surgery.
Surgery removes the prostate, which means you will no longer produce semen and ejaculate during sex. Although it'll feel different, orgasms can still be pleasurable.
loss of sensitivity
Rubbing against the prostate can be pleasurable for the bottom partner during anal play or anal sex. Removing the prostate means that these activities are likely to feel different after surgery.
Loss of fertility (infertility)
If you would like to have children after surgery, speak to your doctor about saving (banking) your sperm to use later.
When your surgeon takes out your prostate, this can damage the muscles and nerves that control when you urinate (pee). This is because the prostate sits right underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The urethra is where urine (pee) flows through.
This damage can lead to:
stress incontinence (leaking a few drops when you sneeze, cough, or exercise)
heavy leakage (this may require a pad to manage)
sudden urges to pee
dribbling urine (pee)
After surgery, you'll need to have a catheter for up to two weeks. Once the catheter is removed, you may still experience some leaking and may need to use pads. Your nurse or care team can tell you more about this.
constipation (right after surgery)
If you have a higher weight, getting fit before surgery might help speed up your recovery. Starting pelvic floor (or Kegel) exercises before surgery can also help reduce any urinary problems afterwards. Your doctor may advise you on having regular bowel movements, to avoid constipation.