The prostate gland is surrounded by nerves and muscles that control erections, and the glandA gland is an organ that produces and secretes a chemical su... Full Definition itself contributes to semenA white, sperm-containing, fluid produced by the male reprod... Full Definition. As a result, prostateThe prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bla... Full Definition cancerCancer is a group of diseases where cells grow abnormally an... Full Definition and treatment for it could cause changes in sexual function.

The bad news is that problems vary, with different problems resulting from different treatments. The good news is that there are several ways to manage sexual side effects.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Some men lose the ability to have an erection after treatment. After radical prostatectomySurgical removal of the entire prostate., a surgical procedure that removes the prostate, about 50% of men regain the ability to have an erection after a year. Men who are able to have nerve-sparing surgery, a procedure that specifically protects the nerves that control erection, may have better results. RadiationHigh-energy particles that cause ionization and tissue damag... Full Definition therapy may also damage the ability to have an erection, though the problem may not start until about six months after therapy and, if it does start, it might not get better. Hormone therapy with TestosteroneA sex hormone secreted by the testes. Inactivating Pharmaceuticals (TIP) may also affect a man’s ability to have an erection, though the side effects of these drugs vary from person to person and depend on the medication used. An orchiectomy, the surgical removal of the testicles causes loss of erections in nearly all patients.

ED caused by surgery, radiation, or medication does not necessarily alter a man’s ability to enjoy sex or have an orgasm, though it does interfere with the ability to have sexual intercourse. Medications like Viagra®, Cialis®, and Levitra® may help.

If those drugs don’t work, there are other options. An erection can be stimulated when desired with a penile injection. It can also be stimulated with MUSE, a small pellet inserted into the urethraThe duct urine (and semen for men) passes through on the way... Full Definition. Other options include the use of a penile ring or vacuum pump. These interventions all work better when used properly. In some cases they should be used as part of recovery from treatment. Your doctor can explain how and when to use them correctly.

If these interventions don’t work, your doctor may suggest a penile implant, which is inserted surgically to support erections.

Do not forget about the importance of open communication—with your doctor and with your sexual partner. There are many ways to have sexual satisfaction and intimacy. You and your partner will be more likely to find them if you open up and talk.


Some men discover that treatments that lower the testosterone in the body can cause the penis and the testicles to shrink in size. The extent and chance of returning to pre-treatment size varies and also may depend on how long the medication is required. This can also be caused by tissue damage during surgery. Shortening of the penis can be managed with erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra®, Cialis®, or Levitra®, which increase blood flow to the tissue. A doctor will advise men about how to use these medications for this purpose.

Loss of Libido

Therapy that involves TIP may result in loss of libidoSexual desire. as the drugs block the hormones behind sexual drive. Not all men experience loss of libido: some experience a reduced drive, while others experience only slight changes in sexual desire. Physical castration, the removal of the testicles, will also eliminate sexual drive.

Low libido may be managed with lifestyle changes that enhance vitality and health, such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, reducing stress, and reducing alcohol use. Note that drugs that help with erections do not help with loss of libido.


Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, some forms of radiation therapy, and some forms of surgery can cause infertility. Chemotherapy may stop or slow sperm production and may not be reversible. Radiation therapy that irradiates a large area around the prostate may damage the testicles, which produce sperm, or the seminal vesiclesSmall glands that sit on top of the prostate that add nutrie... Full Definition that deliver semen. Surgery may also damage the pathways semen takes through the body, or may remove the seminal vesicles, reducing semen production.

If fertilityThe ability to conceive children. is important to you, speak to your doctor before moving forward with treatment so that you can choose the best path forward. If all of your treatment options put fertility at risk, you may consider banking sperm prior to treatment.