'Use it or Lose it': A New Theory About Preserving Erectile Function After Prostate Surgery

Aug 08, 2007, 01:00 ET from Perspectives on Prostate Disease

    BOSTON, Aug. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Erectile dysfunction after
 surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy) has traditionally
 been attributed to nerve damage that theoretically should heal over time.
 But it can take as long as two years for the nerves to recover enough for a
 man to have an erection without the aid of drugs or devices. By that time,
 other damage may have occurred, according to an article in the latest issue
 of Perspectives on Prostate Disease.
     The Harvard Medical School bulletin notes that when the penis is
 flaccid for long periods of time, it is deprived of a lot of oxygen-rich
 blood. Recent research suggests that this low oxygen level causes some
 muscle cells in the penis's erectile tissue to lose their flexibility. The
 tissue gradually becomes more like scar tissue, interfering with the
 penis's ability to expand when it's filled with blood.
     Therefore, the traditional advice given to men -- to wait for erectile
 function to return on its own -- may not be adequate. Simply put, erections
 seem to work on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. To prevent the secondary damage
 that may occur if the penis goes too long without erections, researchers
 now think it's better to restore erectile function soon after prostate
 removal. Treatment options include using a vacuum pump device or taking
 erectile dysfunction drugs by mouth or by injection into the penis.
     According to Dr. Marc Garnick, editor in chief of Perspectives on
 Prostate Disease and a Harvard oncologist, "Although the evidence
 supporting this 'penile rehabilitation' isn't perfect, you may want to ask
 your doctor about the options. Such early intervention may help increase
 the odds that you will regain erectile function."
     Also covered in the 48-page report:
     -- Alternative therapies for prostate cancer
     -- Handling a prostate cancer relapse
     -- Surgical options for benign prostatic hyperplasia
     A year's subscription to Perspectives on Prostate Disease is available
 for $99 (for print and electronic versions; $89 for electronic only) from
 Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical
 School. Order it online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/POPD or by calling
 1-877-649-9457 (toll free).
     Media: Contact Christine Junge at Christine_junge@hms.harvard.edu for a
 complimentary copy of the bulletin.
 
 

SOURCE Perspectives on Prostate Disease
    BOSTON, Aug. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Erectile dysfunction after
 surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy) has traditionally
 been attributed to nerve damage that theoretically should heal over time.
 But it can take as long as two years for the nerves to recover enough for a
 man to have an erection without the aid of drugs or devices. By that time,
 other damage may have occurred, according to an article in the latest issue
 of Perspectives on Prostate Disease.
     The Harvard Medical School bulletin notes that when the penis is
 flaccid for long periods of time, it is deprived of a lot of oxygen-rich
 blood. Recent research suggests that this low oxygen level causes some
 muscle cells in the penis's erectile tissue to lose their flexibility. The
 tissue gradually becomes more like scar tissue, interfering with the
 penis's ability to expand when it's filled with blood.
     Therefore, the traditional advice given to men -- to wait for erectile
 function to return on its own -- may not be adequate. Simply put, erections
 seem to work on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. To prevent the secondary damage
 that may occur if the penis goes too long without erections, researchers
 now think it's better to restore erectile function soon after prostate
 removal. Treatment options include using a vacuum pump device or taking
 erectile dysfunction drugs by mouth or by injection into the penis.
     According to Dr. Marc Garnick, editor in chief of Perspectives on
 Prostate Disease and a Harvard oncologist, "Although the evidence
 supporting this 'penile rehabilitation' isn't perfect, you may want to ask
 your doctor about the options. Such early intervention may help increase
 the odds that you will regain erectile function."
     Also covered in the 48-page report:
     -- Alternative therapies for prostate cancer
     -- Handling a prostate cancer relapse
     -- Surgical options for benign prostatic hyperplasia
     A year's subscription to Perspectives on Prostate Disease is available
 for $99 (for print and electronic versions; $89 for electronic only) from
 Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical
 School. Order it online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/POPD or by calling
 1-877-649-9457 (toll free).
     Media: Contact Christine Junge at Christine_junge@hms.harvard.edu for a
 complimentary copy of the bulletin.
 
 SOURCE Perspectives on Prostate Disease