How Long Does Erectile Dysfunction Last After Prostate Surgery?

Is erectile dysfunction a possibility after prostate surgery? 

Many patients are concerned about it and prefer other prostate cancer treatments. 

However, they should know that most erectile issues are temporary and improve after a while. 

These patients usually recover from this problem after a few months. 

In this article, we cover sexual function after prostate cancer surgery thoroughly, tell you how long ED can last, and how to cope with erectile problems.

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What causes ED after prostate surgery?

Is it essential to know what causes ED after prostate surgery. 

When you learn about it, you will know what to expect and what type of surgery you prefer. 

There are different techniques to deal with prostate cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)

Some are minimally invasive, while others involve complete prostate removal.

In general, the largest the extension of the prostate that is taken out, the higher the possibility to experience sexual dysfunction. 

For example:

So, the first step is asking your doctor what proportion of the prostate gland will be taken out. 

It usually correlates with the chance of sexual dysfunction. But why is that?

The answer is simple: When the prostate gland is removed, the doctor needs to pull and create traction. 

These movements drag along the nerves that run beside the gland. 

The nerves could be either sliced altogether or simply scratched in the process. 

These nerves go directly to the penile tissue and have a significant role in erectile function. 

Thus, the erectile function will be damaged when that happens.

In recent years, a nerve-sparing surgery technique and robotic prostatectomy have been developed. 

These new techniques reduce the chance of erectile dysfunction because the nerves are not sliced. 

However, the pulling movements can still affect them, and you may experience changes in your erectile function until the nerves heal completely.

How long does erectile dysfunction last after prostate surgery?

As you can see above, you may not experience erection problems after prostate surgery. 

But that depends on the procedure and your own anatomy. 

There are many variables involved, and we can’t promise anything. 

However, using a nerve-sparing technique or more minimally-invasive methods hold a reduced chance of sexual dysfunction.

But let’s say you do experience erectile problems after prostate surgery. 

How much will it take to get back to normal? 

How long does erectile dysfunction last after prostate surgery?

Most patients recover their sexual function in a few months or one year. 

Some of them recover more quickly, while others take extra time. 

Still, it shouldn’t take more than two years to fully recover your sexual function. 

If you’re near that time and still have not seen improvements, it is important to talk to your doctor. 

There are different measures you can take to accelerate your recovery.

Ideally, after prostate surgery, your healthcare team should talk about sexual function. 

They may guide you through a penile rehabilitation program if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction. 

That way, you should be able to regain your penile erections faster and have a better experience.

In a nutshell, we can’t give you a concrete time frame for your recovery. 

It depends on the surgical technique, your own anatomy, and how your body responds to surgery. 

It also depends on whether or not you enroll in penile rehabilitation. 

Moreover, there’s a psychogenic component to it, and you could develop performance anxiety around sex

How to cope with ED after prostate surgery

Even when you know that erectile problems are temporary after surgery, it is not easy to experience such a change. 

It can turn into a significant burden for your relationship and yourself. 

Thus, knowing how to cope with erectile dysfunction is useful, even if you don’t experience a complete lack of erections.

Talk About How You Feel

First off, it is essential to evaluate how you feel. 

It is vital to talk about it if you want to improve. 

Most men prefer not to talk about this with a professional, and they avoid the topic with their partners. 

However, this position will only make things worse with your partner and cause anxiety to you. 

After talking it out with a professional, you will see how easy it is. 

They are trained to answer your questions and give you recommendations and a variety of options.

Sometimes men are anxious about erections after surgery because they read so much about it. 

Their anxiety plays against them, turning a weaker erection function into a complete failure. 

Thus, one of the first aspects to consider is your mindset, feelings, and emotions. 

Therapy can help a lot if you’re struggling. 

It is sometimes appropriate to incorporate your partner in the talking, but it is not always required. 

Making Changes To Your Sex Life

After prostate surgery and during this recovery period, you might need to make a few changes. 

Certain sex positions require a very hard erection to work. 

Others will do the trick, even if you can’t maintain an erection. The downward doggy, the morning spoon, and the reverse cowgirl are just a few examples. 

Just be creative and try something new.

This moment can also become an occasion to learn about yourself and experience sex differently. 

You can try new types of stimulation, sex toys, and various kinds of non-penetrative sex. 

The whole idea behind this is to enjoy the moment and feel satisfied even if nothing goes as expected. 

Remember that sex is much more than penetration, and you can feel pleasure in many ways.

Patients with severe psychogenic erectile dysfunction sometimes need to take this approach. 

They need to stay clear from penetrative sex for a while. 

This period will allow them to look for alternative methods and other types of stimulation. 

Then, resuming penetrative sex feels more satisfying than ever, and erectile dysfunction starts to resolve.

Reduce Stress

Erectile dysfunction worsens in patients who live a very stressful life. 

It can be difficult to reduce stress if you run a business or live with chronic disease. 

However, you can always develop coping methods to handle stress more efficiently. 

Coping with stress will help you deal with erectile dysfunction, too. 

They are sometimes profoundly related.

Thus, consider yoga and meditation

You can simply practice breathing or take more time for yourself and do something you like. 

Light exercise will not only relieve stress but also improve blood flow and favor erections. 

And now we’re talking about lifestyle; it is also recommended to quit smoking if you want stronger erections.

Natural ED Remedies

You might not be a big fan of synthetic drugs. If that’s your case, why not trying with natural ED remedies

Here are a few examples:

Panax ginseng

This herb has well-known aphrodisiac properties. 

It improves the blood flow through a group of substances called ginsenosides.


DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by your body. 

It can be converted into testosterone in the body and has been helpful for men with ED and diabetes.

L arginine

This is a natural amino acid used by your organism to create nitric oxide. 

After turning into nitric oxide, it widens the blood vessels and fills the penis with blood.


This is also a natural extract with positive effects on your sexual health. 

However, you need to ask your doctor before trying this herb. 

In some people, it might increase your heart rate and blood pressure levels.

Other Treatment Options

There will always be a last resource against erectile dysfunction, and it is Viagra

This is only the most popular type, but there are many other PDE5 inhibitors in the market. 

Talk to your doctor to get a professional recommendation, and do not hesitate to use them. 

They will work in most cases and help you recover your erectile function.

Moreover, certain studies suggest that people who used these methods as a part of penile rehabilitation recovered their erections faster. 

There’s no final word about it, but urologists recommend resuming your sexual activity as usual.

In some cases, you might not fully respond to PDE5 inhibitors. 

Other tools are available, including injection therapy or a penis pump (vacuum pump device). 

In very advanced cases, when nothing is helpful, your doctor could also recommend a penile prosthesis

These penile implants are only placed when nothing else seems to solve the problem.


Prostate surgery can relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of prostate cancer patients and those with an enlarged prostate. 

However, there are many reports about erectile dysfunction after surgery. 

This happens when the erection nerve that runs along the prostate is torn. 

Even after nerve sparing prostatectomy and robotic prostate surgery, there’s a chance of temporary erectile problems.

How long does erectile dysfunction last after prostate surgery?

Spontaneous erections return in most cases a few months after surgery. 

In the meantime, you could experience partial erections or not holding them for a very long time. 

However, you can cope with these problems by changing your approach around sex and trying new ways to find pleasure with your partner.

Medical therapy will always be available, and you can ask your doctor about penile rehabilitation programs if erectile dysfunction is a recurrent topic of concern.

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  1. Frieben, R. W., Lin, H. C., Hinh, P. P., Berardinelli, F., Canfield, S. E., & Wang, R. (2010). The impact of minimally invasive surgeries for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia on male sexual function: a systematic review. Asian journal of andrology, 12(4), 500.
  2. Cornu, J. N., Ahyai, S., Bachmann, A., de la Rosette, J., Gilling, P., Gratzke, C., … & Madersbacher, S. (2015). A systematic review and meta-analysis of functional outcomes and complications following transurethral procedures for lower urinary tract symptoms resulting from benign prostatic obstruction: an update. European urology, 67(6), 1066-1096.
  3. Bratu, O., Oprea, I., Marcu, D., Spinu, D., Niculae, A., Geavlete, B., & Mischianu, D. (2017). Erectile dysfunction post-radical prostatectomy–a challenge for both patient and physician. Journal of medicine and life, 10(1), 13.
  4. Montorsi, F., Briganti, A., Salonia, A., Rigatti, P., & Burnett, A. L. (2004). Current and future strategies for preventing and managing erectile dysfunction following radical prostatectomy. Sildenafil, 49-65.
  5. Muneer, A., Kalsi, J., Nazareth, I., & Arya, M. (2014). Erectile dysfunction. Bmj, 348.
  6. Vanderhaeghe, D., Albersen, M., & Weyne, E. (2021). Focusing on sexual rehabilitation besides penile rehabilitation following radical prostatectomy is important. International Journal of Impotence Research, 33(4), 448-456.
  7. Goel, B., & Maurya, N. K. (2020). Aphrodisiac Herbal therapy for Erectile Dysfunction. Archives of Pharmacy Practice, 11(1).
  8. Pace, G., Rosso, A. D., & Vicentini, C. (2010). Penile rehabilitation therapy following radical prostatectomy. Disability and rehabilitation, 32(14), 1204-1208.

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