Prostate removal surgery removes part or all of the prostate gland. The prostate gland sits at the base of a man’s bladder. Drugs.com reports that prostate removal treats the following conditions: bladder stones with prostate enlargement, prostate bleeding, prostate cancer, very slow urination, and difficulty completely emptying the bladder. While prostate removal surgery improves the symptoms associated with each of these conditions, the procedure has certain risks and side effects.
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Erectile dysfunction is a common side effect related to prostate removal, according to the American Cancer Society. Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man cannot acquire or maintain an erection. Prostate removal surgery may cause damage to penis veins, blood vessels and the nerve bundles that are responsible for sending signals to initiate erections, according to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Further, the likelihood of erectile dysfunction stemming from prostate removal is related to the extensiveness of the cancer, the quality of the man’s erections before surgery, the man's age and the surgeon’s skill.
Another side effect of prostate removal is infertility. The surgery severs the connection between the testicles and urethra, causing men to lose the ability to procreate naturally. The American Cancer Society recommends that men who would still like to have children post-surgery consider "banking" their sperm prior to surgery.
Urinary incontinence is a side effect of prostate removal that stems from damage to the nerves that control the bladder that can occur during surgery. With urinary incontinence, men lose the inability to control their urine. According to the American Cancer Society, control problems manifest as urine leaks when the man coughs, sneezes, laughs or exercises; difficulty emptying the bladder; and sudden urges to urinate. Further, the American Cancer Society states that normal bladder control typically returns within several weeks or months after the procedure.
A minor side effect linked to prostate removal involves penis length. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 20 percent of men who have their prostate removed, report a 15 percent or greater decrease in their penis length.
Prostate removal can cause urethral stricture. This condition occurs when the urethra narrows in an abnormal position. The urethra is the tubular structure that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Urethral stricture can lead to urinary difficulties, such as bloody or dark urine, painful urination, urgent or frequent urination or urine stream spraying, according to MedlinePlus.
After prostate removal surgery, some men experience bowel incontinence. This condition involves the lack of control over bowel movements. Symptoms of bowel incontinence include involuntary bowel movements, stool leakage and gas, according to MedlinePlus.
Prostate removal may lead to rectum injury. Before surgery, the prostate is located above the rectum. After prostate removal, the area of the rectum below the prostate becomes delicate and thin presenting an injury risk up to three months after surgery, according to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.