Long-term Urinary and Erectile Dysfunction Recovery After Radical Prostatectomy

Prostate cancer typically begins with little to no symptoms, which is why getting screened is so important for men over 50. It can be detected by a simple blood test, known as the PSA, for early detection, or in advanced prostate cancers cases symptoms can be indicators. These symptoms can range from difficult or painful urination to erectile dysfunction. A common form of treatment for prostate cancer is radical prostatectomy (RP) in which the prostate gland is removed.

According to a new study, long-term improvements in urinary function or erectile function after radical prostatectomy could be possible. Previously, it was assumed that if urinary function or erectile function was not regained within 12 months of radical prostatectomy, that the chance of recovery would be low.

For this study, 800 patients reporting urinary dysfunction 12 months following RP and 1003 patients reporting erectile dysfunction 12 months following RP were involved. Each patient would take a survey measuring quality of life at 12 months after RP, 24 months, 36 months and 48 months.

What was found?

Among patients who were incontinent (unable to control urination) at 12 months, the likelihood of attaining good urinary function at 24 months was 30%, 49% at 36 months, and 59% at 48 months. Among patients experiencing erectile problems at 12 months, the likelihood of achieving good erectile function at 24 months was 22%, 32% at 36 months, and 40% at 48 months.

This shows that the chance of recovery after the initial 12-month period after RP is possible, however, the level of functionality at the 12-month mark significantly influenced both urinary function and erectile function recovery.


Men with incontinence or erectile dysfunction at 12 months have a higher chance of subsequent functional improvement. Further research should be done on the impact of ongoing multidisciplinary follow-up care on rates of recovery.

If you are experiencing urinary or erectile issues following radical prostatectomy, you should discuss this with your Philadelphia urologist to help make the best decisions for your rehabilitation care. Call Philadelphia Urology Associates today at 215-563-1199 to schedule an appointment or make an appointment online.

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