Impotence Post Radical Prostatectomy

Li Liu, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Three years ago my husband had a radical prostatectomy, followed by radiation therapy. The good news is that no cancer has returned, the bad news is that he is still impotent. We tried Viagra & couple other things: nothing works.  
Please help us. AG

Li Liu, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistant, responds:

Dear AG,
Thank you for your question and interest.

Sexual impotence after radical prostatectomy is a very common complication. It occurs quite often even in the most experienced hands. The incidence of sexual impotence after radical prostatectomy is dependent upon age of the patient, stage of the disease, other co-existing medical problems, surgeon's skill, and perhaps, luck as well.

Surprisingly, very few studies have been done to address the management of post-prostatectomy impotence. Of the patients who regained potency, the majority of them recovered within 18 months. Unfortunately, the likelihood of recovery of potency 3 years after prostatectomy is quite low. One of the alternatives is to have inflatable penile prosthesis or another mechanical device inserted. I would suggest that you and your husband discuss this issue with a trained urologist.