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Does radiation therapy for colon cancer cause ED?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat colon cancer. There is a chance that this procedure can cause erectile dysfunction. However, there is a greater threat of erectile dysfunction in men undergoing treatment for a related disease, rectum cancer. Radiation destroys both cancerous cells and healthy ones. That means radiation may not only kill a rectal tumor, but could also damage blood vessels and nerves needed to achieve an erection.

A man who develops erectile dysfunction following radiation treatment for rectum cancer should speak with a doctor about his treatment options, which include medications such as (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and tadalafil (Cialis).
Radiation therapy for colon cancer may cause erectile dysfunction. The radiation may damage nerves that carry the signals to the penis to cause an erection. It may also damage vessels that supply blood to the penis. And it may cause testosterone, a hormone involved in sexual function, to be produced more slowly.

The treatment may make it harder for a man to ejaculate in addition to making it harder for him to achieve an erection. Some or all of the sexual function may return in the months after the radiation treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.