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November 9, 2007 at 1:16 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Disease Causes of Erectile Dysfunction: Prostate Cancer Treatment

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

The male prostate is a small gland that surrounds the urethra. It is about the size of a walnut and it has many important functions:

  • Producing a large portion of the seminal fluid
  • Help expel semen during ejaculation
  • Functions as a gland
  • Contains muscle fibers

Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong. Some of the most serious problems that the prostate can encounter are:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Enlargement
  • Cancer

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 American men, and is the second most prevalent male cancer worldwide. A diagnosis of prostate cancer is devastating, although if caught early, survival rates are optimistic. There are several types of treatment for prostate cancer:

  • Surgery in which the prostate is removed
  • Radiation
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Many of these treatments carry a risk of causing erectile dysfunction.

  • Surgery where the prostate is removed, biopsied, or otherwise disturbed, can cause nerve and blood vessel damage that will interfere with an erection.
  • Radiation in high doses may also cause erectile dysfunction by damaging fragile nerves and blood vessels. It can also block blood flow to the penis and reduce testosterone levels.
  • Hormone therapy, where the doctor reduces your levels of testosterone, may simply cause a reduction in sex drive and a lack of libido. In more severe cases, it may prevent erection completely.
  • Chemotherapy may reduce the amount of testosterone in the body, thereby reducing libido. It also may prevent you from having an erection. Usually this goes away a few weeks after treatment ends.

Often times, loss of sexual function after prostate cancer won't be permanent. After a year or two, many men find that their nerves heal and their sexual function returns. In the meantime, there are many treatments available to treat erectile dysfunction. You should talk to your health practitioner to find out which of the following treatments might be right for you:

  • Pills like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. These drugs work by helping the smooth muscles in your penis to relax, thus facilitating blood flow into the penis, and therefore, an erection.
  • Herbal supplements have helped many men with erectile dysfunction.
  • Vacuum devices, commonly known as penis pumps, have been around for awhile and provide a viable solution for many men. They have about an 80% success rate.
  • Penis implants are effective, but require surgery. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications. This is not a short-term solution to erectile dysfunction, so if it has been only a year or two since you lost sexual function, this might not be the right treatment for you. Wait and see if your sexual function returns naturally.

It is also important to be sure that there isn't something else that is causing your erectile dysfunction. Other common causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Anxiety, depression, or fatigue
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking

Sources:

http://www.prostate-cancer-institute.org/about-prostate-cancer/prostate-anatomy.html

http://www.prostatecancerfoundation.org/site/c.itIWK2OSG/b.1419651/k.753B/Erectile_Dysfunction.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-treatment/SA00070

Photo Credit: HowardLake

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