When Cancer Treatment Causes Erectile Dysfunction

When Cancer Treatment Causes Erectile DysfunctionUndergoing cancer treatment can be tough enough, but the sexual side effects can double men’s challenges. Penn Medicine’s Dr. James Metz, M.D., and the Mayo Clinic staff explain how various cancer treatments can reduce your ability to attain or sustain erections. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can cause anxiety and frustration for you and your partner, so exploring ED treatments can improve your relationship and life.

What to Expect

Pelvic area operations can alter your nerves and blood vessels that are necessary for proper erectile functioning. They might make you less likely to achieve and keep erections. Nerve-sparing surgeries are less apt to initiate ED. Regaining erectile function following pelvic region surgeries for prostate, bladder, testicular, colon, rectal, and anal tumors and lymph node removal for testicular cancer and some sarcomas may take as long as two years.

If surgery removes or damages your prostate, seminal vesicle glands, or nerves that manage their functions, you won’t be able to produce the fluid that forms semen. Having dry ejaculations isn’t harmful and doesn’t affect your ability to orgasm. Some men report that dry ejaculations don’t feel different, and their partners or spouses don’t notice or mind. But others say that they’re weaker or produce less pleasure than pre-surgery orgasms.

For the best outcome, experts advise taking prescription ED drugs to get and keep erections shortly after surgical procedures. Buy Cialis online to relax your muscles while improving blood flow to your penis so you can enjoy sexual spontaneity during a typical 36-hour timeframe. Scientific research shows that Cialis increases erection quality in 43 to 86 percent of patients, even after radical prostatectomies. Get answers to FAQs about orderingCanadian prescriptions online.

Radiation therapy:

ED can follow radiation for prostate cancer. It tends to occur slowly during the year following treatment. The chances of radiation damage leading to ED rise with age. If your erectile function was poor before treatment, your risk of developing ED afterward increases. Because radiation impairs your prostate and seminal vesicle glands that create the fluid in ejaculate, it reduces or depletes your semen quantity.

In the six to 12 months after your doctor radiates your pelvic region, you may experience side effects that build gradually. ED may occur if treatment injures nerves, prevents blood from reaching your penis, and/or decreases your testosterone level. Radiation can worsen any existing artery damage from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, or smoking. If ejaculation is painful, that sensation will subside over time usually.


Even though chemotherapy doesn’t lead to erectile dysfunction often, your libido could fluctuate during treatment. Some chemo drugs decrease your body’s testosterone production. Chemotherapy may cause exhaustion, bleeding, or greater infection chances. Your doctor might advise avoiding sex, or a lack of desire may prompt you to refrain. Sexual side effects wane shortly after treatment ends usually.

Hormone therapy:

Testosterone can fuel prostate cancer. So your doctor may prescribe medications or remove your testicles to lower your testosterone hormone level and downgrade or halt your cancer’s advancement. If your prostate cancer is large, hormone therapy can shrink your gland before surgery so removal is easier. This treatment can cause reduced libido, or you might desire sex but be unable to achieve erections or orgasms. Hormone therapy also can reduce your semen volume. Typically, these side effects develop gradually during the initial months of treatment and occur most often in older men.

Other ED Treatment OptionsOther ED Treatment Options

For male cancer patients, erectile dysfunction is a normal concern. Embarrassment shouldn’t prevent you from seeking a solution. Work with an urologist to discover if ED medications or other treatments are suitable and can be beneficial.

Your options may include:

Penile injections:

Introducing medications into the side of your penis promotes blood flow.

Muse system:

An applicator places a small medication suppository into your urethra to boost blood flow.

Vacuum constrictive device:

Place this cylinder over your penis. Air pumping out of it draws in blood to generate an erection. Slide the ring down to the base of your penis so blood will remain in your tissues to sustain the erection up to 60 minutes.

Penile prostheses:

Implants include malleable rods that fit inside your penis. Most patients use prostheses that they can inflate for sex and then deflate afterward.

Sex therapy:

Doctors recommend sex therapy sessions for patients and their partners when anxiety contributes to erection issues.

Other Ways to Regain Sexual Function
Lifestyle changes:

Losing weight, physical activity, and quitting smoking may help.


Stimulating your penis and sexual fantasies may reignite your desire or encourage erections. Extending foreplay might increase your orgasm intensity. Changing sexual positions may help.

Pillow talk:

Express your emotions, concerns, and sexual preferences to your partner to avoid feelings of rejection. Besides offering loving support, your special someone may have creative suggestions to enhance your sexual performance together.


Join a local support group to learn how fellow cancer survivors are coping. If you’d rather not discuss sex in person with strangers, an online network will allow for more anonymity.