Sex After Radiation for Prostate Cancer: The Cialis Effect
How Prostate Cancer Radiation Affects Erections
Less information is available for men undergoing radiation therapy, which can damage blood vessels carrying blood into the penis. As a result, they lose their ability to dilate, or open up, during sexual stimulation, and without more blood flowing, the chance of getting an erection is limited.
Studies have been conducted with men taking one of the erection medications once a day or on-demand when sexual activity is planned. Here too, the results are mixed, although daily dosing may offer fewer side effects.
A recent randomized study was conducted comparing daily 5 mg. Cialis to placebo in men treated with either external radiation or brachytherapy (seed implantation). Patients took the pill for 24 weeks beginning when radiation treatment started. Unfortunately, at the end of one year, there was no difference in the two groups: 72 percent of men taking Cialis reported having spontaneous erections compared to 71 percent taking placebo. That means this regimen offers no benefit.
Tell Your Doctor If You're Having Erection Issues
However, many questions remain. For example, would longer treatment or a higher dose be more effective, or would a different PDE-5 inhibitor have shown a benefit? Additional studies will be needed to answer these questions.
Until then, men undergoing either form of radiation should be aware that the majority of those who had normal erections before treatment will still have adequate erectile function after therapy. For men whose sexual function does decline, I recommend they discuss this problem with their doctor so that various options can be tried. If the doctor is not aware that a man is having a problem, they can't offer help.
Although each of the erection-enhancing options has trade-offs, the best advice I can offer is to try them out and decide if the benefit is worth any side effects that may occur.
Video: Renewed Sexual Pleasure for Couples Post-Prostate Cancer Treatment
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