Side Effects of Prostate Treatment

Side Effects of Prostate Treatment

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Improvements in treatment over the years have significantly reduced the severity of side effects of prostate cancer treatments. It is still important to understand how and why these side effects occur, and to how to minimize how they will affect daily life. There are six major categories of side effects that are normally associated with prostate cancer treatments: urinary dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, loss of fertility, effects due to the loss of testosterone, and side effects of chemotherapy. Depending on the treatment strategy pursued some or all of these side effects might be present. It’s also important to realize that not all these symptoms are normal, and that some require immediate care.

Side Effects of Prostate Treatment

Urinary Dysfunction encompasses both urinary incontinence, which can range from some leaking to complete loss of bladder control, and irritative voiding symptoms, including increased urinary frequency, increased urinary urgency, and pain upon urination. For men undergoing prostatectomy, incontinence is the main urinary side effect. Bowel Dysfunction includes diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and the inability to control bowel movements. All of these side effects are more common following external beam radiotherapy. During prostatectomy, damage to the rectum is unusually rare, and the bowel changes noticed in the first few weeks following surgery are likely the result of the body adjusting to the increased abdominal space due to the loss of the prostate. Radiation therapy can cause significant damage to the rectum, resulting in some or all of the symptoms listed above.

Erectile Dysfunction is experienced by nearly all men for the first few months after treatment. The reason for this is simple: the nerves and blood vessels that control the physical aspect of an erection are incredibly delicate, and any trauma to the area will unfortunately result in changes to the natural order. Fertility is always a problem after prostate cancer treatment. It is nearly impossible for a man to retain his ability to father children through sexual intercourse after the initial treatment. The loss of semen following surgery makes ejaculation impossible, so the sperm cannot physically leave the body to reach the woman’s egg for fertilization.

Hormone Therapy side effects: Testosterone is the primary male hormone. Side effects of testosterone loss is lengthy and includes hot flashes, decreased sexual desire, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, anemia, and memory loss. Chemotherapy drugs available today work in a slightly different fashion, and it’s hard to predict what sorts of side effects any one person will experience. Check with your doctor for reported side effects for your treatment.

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