Did you know pelvic floor physiotherapy can help men with erectile dysfunction and incontinence, often present after prostate surgery?
By Aline Filipe Nunes, pelvic floor physio for both men and women
With September next month raising awareness for prostate cancer, we thought we would start the conversation among you men. The effects of post prostate surgery are not well discussed, leaving men often suffering in silence.
Did you know that, here at The Fix Program, we help people recovering from prostate cancer treatment?
What is cancer of the prostate?
The prostate is a small organ that is located under and around the bladder neck in men. The prostate is part of the male reproductive systems because it is responsible for producing prostatic fluid which nourishes sperm and, for normal function, it requires testosterone.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and it occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate. While it can be localised or it can spread to other organs, early management is key.
The most common symptoms are:
- increased urinary frequency or sudden urgency,
- painful urination
- difficulty in starting urination
- finding blood in the urine
- lower back pain, groin and thigh pain.
Although these symptoms alone may not mean you have prostate cancer, your doctor, according to your personal and family health history, should access if it is important to do further testing, such as blood tests, rectal examination or biopsy.
Prostate surgery and the recovery path
Unfortunately, surgery and cancer treatment can lead to several side effects and not many know of these until having to face surgery. Because functionally, the prostate functions as a sphincter, it is common for men to have urinary incontinence after surgery.
Additionally, because the prostate also helps with sexual function such as the erection and production of the prostatic fluid, after surgery and treatment, it is difficult to maintain a full erection. Ejaculation after treatment is also limited, meaning that although men can reach an orgasm as they could before, the orgasm is "dry".
Depending on the type of cancer treatment, men can also experience bowel disturbances or also low libido (often because of the fatigue levels, the emotional shock and trauma lived and due to the fact that the levels of testosterone may be tampered by hormone therapy).
But there is help here.
- Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help men retrain their pelvic floor so the urethral sphincter can be reprogrammed to work without a prostate.
- Exercise has also been proven to be highly beneficial to those after cancer as it has been proven to reduce fatigue and cancer recurrence, improves sleep quality and vastly improves your quality of life.
- Strengthening exercise also seems to be linked with improved libido which can help in the long term.
- Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help you reaching better erection via the education and use of several tools such as penile pumps, penile rings and pelvic floor exercises.
Embrace your new life after prostate cancer
Here at The Fix Program we believe that cancer should not be the end but the start of a new phase of your life where you can embrace health and your new life.
If you were diagnosed with prostate cancer or you know anyone who was affected by it, there are several sources that can give you and your family great information about prostate cancer and treatment management.
Please check the links below for more information.
September is Prostate awareness month day and The Fix Program would like to acknowledge the strength of everyone who had, were diagnosed and are undergoing prostate cancer treatment! We would also like to acknowledge the work of all of those researchers and health professionals who contribute to the body of knowledge in the field and that work daily towards finding ways to improve patients' quality of life and survival.