Prostate cancer treatments can affect various aspects of your sexual function, but the most significant is your ability to have an erection. While your prostate doesn’t directly contribute to your ability to have an erection, it is surrounded by the bundles of nerves and blood vessels that are important to erections.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is relatively common. Approximately one third of males over the age of 40 experience some degree of ED, with problems increasing with age.

ED can be associated with:

  • medical conditions – diabetes, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure
  • lifestyle factors – smoking, excessive alcohol, obesity, or limited exercise
  • psychological or emotional issues – stress, anxiety or depression.

ED is also a common side effect of prostate cancer treatments:

  • All treatment options for prostate cancer can cause a reduction in erectile function.
  • Advanced prostate cancer can destroy the ability to have erections.

Your age and whether or not you are having regular sex before treatment can affect how well your erectile function returns afterwards. For example, younger men having regular sexual activity before treatment are more likely to recover their erections compared to older men who are already experiencing erection problems and who have only occasional sexual activity. If you are already experiencing erection problems related to another factor such as cardiovascular disease, you are likely to experience a further reduction in erectile function or no erectile function following treatment.

Prostate cancer treatments can affect various aspects of your sexual function.