How can surgery result in erectile dysfunction?

Surgery can be a cause of erectile dysfunction. Sometimes surgery in an area near the penis damages nerves that carry the signals that cause an erection. Among the kinds of surgery where this might happen are surgery for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer and cancer of the rectum.

Advances in technique are allowing surgeons to avoid these nerves more often. But in the case of prostate cancer, sometimes the surgeon intentionally destroys the nerves for fear that the cancer has already spread to them. Surgery around the penis can also cause erectile dysfunction because the discomfort or worry causes a man to lose interest in sex.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Sometimes the surgeon's scalpel can seem double-edged. On the one hand, surgery is often necessary to save lives or preserve quality of life. However, there are times when performing a surgical procedure produces unintended damage. In some cases, surgery can, indeed, result in erectile dysfunction.

For example, erectile dysfunction can sometimes result from surgery to treat prostate cancer and other prostate diseases. The reason: While removing a prostate tumor or excess tissue growth from an enlarged prostate, a surgeon may damage nerves needed to produce an erection.

Other forms of surgery may result in nerve damage that causes erectile dysfunction. However, the news isn't all gloomy. Many men who experience erectile dysfunction following surgery eventually return to normal sexual functioning. For those who don't, treatments for erectile dysfunction are usually effective.

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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.