A new long-term follow-up study indicates that many men continue to feel distressed about their reduced sexual function years after prostate surgery. In fact, the study reveals that sexual function is so important to them that adapting to a lower level of functioning is much more difficult than adapting to temporary urinary problems, explains Dr. Walter R. Parker and colleagues from the University of Michigan Health System in the Ann Arbor report.
Of the 434 men in the study with localized prostate cancer, all underwent radical prostatectomy, which is the complete removal of the gland. This type of surgery is creating controversy among urologists and surgeons because it is commonly used to treat early-stages of the disease. Men with early-stage prostate cancer are at a low risk that the disease will be fatal, yet the impact of the surgery is quite negative on the men’s quality of life.
Long-term quality of life is extremely important in men when they have a high likelihood of survival from prostate cancer. Parker’s team at the University of Michigan developed a survey called the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC), which is designed to assess various aspects of quality of life after prostate cancer treatment. This study is the first to compare men’s scores before the surgery and five years after the surgery.
The study shows that 38 percent of the men who had undergone radical prostatectomy reached baseline levels of urinary function 12 months after the surgery (despite an instantaneous, but temporary, decrease in urinary function and incontinence right after the surgery). But by four years the improvement declined.
The study revealed even less promising results in regards to sexual function of the men. Although sexual function began to improve after the surgery, only 28 percent had actually returned to the level of sexual function they reported before the surgery. After three years from the surgery, 37 percent reported the same level of sexual trouble they reported before undergoing the surgery. Only 11 percent of the men returned to their pre-surgery sexual function after two years from when they underwent the surgery. This means that about 63 percent of the men were experiencing low sexual function after undergoing prostatectomy surgery.
The recommended recovery program for sexual function after the surgery includes Kegel exercises and prescription drugs. These are intended to restore erectile function. Yet studies have shown that many prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction leave the patients feeling sick and with many side-effects.
Researchers are initiating a “structured early and long-term erectile rehabilitation program to augment sexual recovery as early as possible, yet also convince patients to maintain their erectile rehabilitation efforts long-term,” states Reuters.
But something different needs to be included in these rehabilitation programs. Many men are searching for alternative treatments for their erectile dysfunction and sexual function problems. Natural supplements offer safe, often effective, and clinically proven results. If you have undergone prostatectomy surgery and are considering natural supplements, contact your urologist for further information.