If the prostate is surgically removed, a procedure called a prostatectomy, it can have several effects on the body. Here are some key points:
- The removal of the prostate gland leads to the absence of seminal fluid during ejaculation, resulting in dry orgasms. This means that natural fertility is no longer possible.
- However, prior to surgery, some men may choose to bank their sperm (cryopreservation) for future use in assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), if they desire to father children.
2. Sexual Function:
- The nerves and blood vessels that are essential for erectile function are in close proximity to the prostate. During a prostatectomy, especially if it’s a radical prostatectomy (removal of the entire prostate), these nerves may be unavoidably affected. However, surgeons can attempt nerve-sparing techniques to preserve erectile function.
- Despite nerve-sparing efforts, many men still experience a temporary or permanent decline in erectile function after surgery. It can take several months or longer for erectile function to return, if at all, and some men may require treatments like medications, penile injections, or devices to achieve erections.
3. Urinary Changes:
- After prostate removal, the urethra might undergo some changes due to the surgery. The prostate surrounds the urethra like a donut, and its removal may result in changes to the urethral structure or scarring. This can lead to temporary or permanent urinary incontinence, which means the ability to control urine flow might be compromised.
- Post-surgery, some men may experience urinary leakage when they cough, sneeze, or engage in physical activities, known as stress incontinence. Others may face a frequent and sudden urge to urinate, known as urge incontinence.
4. PSA Levels:
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. After prostate removal, PSA levels in the blood should drop significantly, as there is no prostate tissue left to produce PSA.
- Elevated PSA levels after a prostatectomy can indicate the presence of residual prostate tissue or recurrence of prostate cancer. Regular PSA tests are important for monitoring any potential recurrence.
It’s important to note that while prostatectomy can be an effective treatment for prostate cancer, it’s not without potential side effects. Each individual’s response to the surgery can vary, and it’s essential for patients to have a thorough discussion with their healthcare team to understand the potential risks, benefits, and long-term implications of the procedure based on their specific medical history and cancer stage.