Ways to improve erections
There are several medical options for trying to improve the quality of your erections, regardless of the type of prostate cancer treatment you have had. Ask your treatment team for more details about these methods.
Your doctor can prescribe tablets to increase blood flow to the penis. These only help if the nerves controlling erections are working, which is unlikely soon after surgery. Your doctor may recommend using the tablets before and soon after surgery, as the increased blood flow can help preserve penis health until the nerves recover. Tablets are also an option after radiation therapy and ADT.These tablets should not be taken with some heart medicines. Check with your doctor.
|Vacuum erection device|
A vacuum erection device (VED) or vacuum pump device uses suction to make blood flow into the penis. This device can also help to strengthen or maintain a natural erection.You place a clear, rigid tube over the penis. A manual or battery-operated pump then creates a vacuum that forces blood to flow into the penis so it gets hard. You place a rubber ring at the base of the penis to keep the erection firm for intercourse after the pump is removed. The ring can be worn comfortably for 30 minutes.
Penile injection therapy (PIT) has to be prescribed by a doctor. You will be taught to inject the penis with medicine that makes blood vessels in the penis expand and fill with blood, creating an erection. The erection usually occurs within 5–10 minutes and lasts for 30–60 minutes.The syringes can come pre-loaded with the medicine and are single use, or as vials from a compounding pharmacy that you measure out. Injecting your penis may sound unpleasant, but many people say it causes only a moment of discomfort.PIT works well for most people, but a few may have pain and scarring. A rare side effect is a prolonged and painful erection (known as priapism). This requires emergency medical attention.
A penile prosthesis is a permanent implant that allows you to create an erection. Flexible rods or thin, inflatable cylinders are placed in the penis during surgery and connected to a pump in the scrotum. You turn on or squeeze the pump when you want an erection.An implant is not usually recommended for at least a year after prostate cancer treatment, and non-surgical options such as oral medicines or injections will usually be tried first.Penile implants can be expensive, though part or all of the cost may be covered by private health insurance or Medicare if the implant is medically necessary. If the implant is removed, it won’t be possible to have an erection.
You may see or hear ads for ways to treat erection problems. This may include herbal preparations, natural therapies, nasal sprays and lozenges.
If you are thinking about using these, talk to your doctor first, as there could be risks without any benefits. Products that contain testosterone or act like testosterone in the body may encourage the prostate cancer to grow.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Amy Hayden, Radiation Oncologist, Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, and Chair, Faculty of Radiation Genito-Urinary Group (FROGG), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, NSW; Prof Shomik Sengupta, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Head, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, and Visiting Urologist and Uro-Oncology Lead, Urology Department, Eastern Health, VIC; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological and Prostate Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ken Bezant, Consumer; Dr Marcus Dreosti, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, and Clinical Strategy Lead, Oncology Australia, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics and The University of Western Australia, WA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and HeadwayHealth Clinical and Consulting Psychology Services, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Graham Rees, Consumer; Kerry Santoro, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Matthew Starr, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. This booklet is funded through the generosity of the people of Australia.
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