now tend to be less serious, and some men don’t experience them, Thrasher says. “The complications of all types of prostate cancer treatments have continued to decline since the 1990s,” he says. “We’re getting better at what we do.”
For many patients, urinary or sexual problems are only temporary obstacles, Thrasher says. “Patients will come to me and say that they dribble a little urine when they lift their golf bag over their heads,” he says. They quickly learn to how to clench the muscles around the bladder to avoid such accidents.
Men who have trouble achieving erections can often return to normal — or near-normal — with the help of sildenafil (Viagra) or other treatments for sexual dysfunction, he says. Younger patients (age 65 and under) are especially likely to respond to such treatments.
Keep in mind, however, that your sexual machinery has changed. You can still have orgasms, but they will be dry. Without a prostate or seminal vesicles, your body will no longer be able to produce semen, so you won’t be able to father a child. If you see children in your future, ask your doctor to collect sperm samples before the operation.
Despite these setbacks, however, most patients had an upbeat attitude. On the whole, any complications tend to be overshadowed by the relief of being cancer-free, Thrasher says. More than 90 percent of patients said their overall quality of life was back to normal within six to nine months of the surgery. Younger men proved to be especially likely to rebound quickly from the operation.
All in all, most men who opt for a radical prostatectomy are happy with their decision, Thrasher says. Surgery is hard on the body, but it’s nothing compared to cancer.