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Prostate Cancer: Urinary Incontinence & Erectile Dysfunction

Understanding Prostate Health: An Informative Guide

The prostate is a crucial part of the male reproductive system, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, surrounding the urethra. Its primary function is to produce seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm.

Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, originating in the gland cells of the prostate. While it often presents with symptoms such as difficulty urinating, it can also be asymptomatic in its early stages. Prostate cancer can range from slow-growing forms, where monitoring may be sufficient, to more aggressive types requiring treatments like hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

prostate cancer

Impact on Sexual Health

Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is not directly caused by prostate cancer, treatments for the disease frequently lead to this condition. Reduced testosterone production and nerve damage from treatments are common causes. Most men experience some level of ED in the first few months post-treatment, but significant improvement is often seen within a year if nerves remain intact.

Urinary incontinence, or the inability to control urination, is another common side effect after prostate cancer treatments such as surgery or radiation. There are two primary types:

  1. Stress Urinary Incontinence: Leakage occurs with physical activities like coughing, sneezing, or getting up from a chair. This is more common after surgery.

  2. Urge Incontinence: The frequent need to urinate, often accompanied by leakage, typically follows radiation treatment.

types of incontinence

Why Does Treatment Cause Incontinence?

To understand post-treatment incontinence, it's important to know how the bladder stores and releases urine. The bladder, a muscular organ, holds urine until it's expelled through the urethra. During urination, bladder muscles contract while urethral muscles relax. The prostate surrounds the urethra, so any changes to the prostate, such as enlargement or surgical removal, can affect urinary control.

Managing ED and Incontinence

Pelvic Floor Exercises: Strengthening pelvic floor muscles through kegel exercises can improve muscle endurance and control. A physical therapist can guide you in performing these exercises correctly.

Lifestyle Adjustments: Diaphragmatic breathing can help maintain intra-abdominal pressure. Drinking water throughout the day rather than in large quantities at once and avoiding bladder irritants like caffeine, soda, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and alcohol can also help.

Medical Interventions:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage both urinary incontinence and ED.

  • Erectile Pumps: These devices stimulate an erection by increasing blood flow.

  • Penile Clamps: These non-invasive devices prevent urinary leakage without the need for surgery or drugs.

erectile dysfunction

Seeking Professional Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms like ED or urinary incontinence after prostate cancer treatment, consider consulting a pelvic floor therapist. With their expertise, you can gain a better understanding of your pelvic floor health and take steps towards improvement. Schedule an appointment today to start your journey towards recovery.

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