An estimated 3 million men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, making prostate cancer one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of cancer in the United States. Prostate cancer survival rates are nearly excellent, meaning more men live longer after treatment.
However, too often, the negative effects of treatment go ignored. Men are often too embarrassed to talk about any penis problems with their primary care physician. Many will withdraw from their spouses due to underperformance in the bedroom. Or avoid interacting with people because of bad smells. Prolonged sitting or standing can be uncomfortable and therefore exhausting. And after waiting for symptoms to improve on their own, hopelessness settles in.
There is something all men should know – you are not alone and there is hope!
How A Prostatectomy Can Affect Your Pelvic Floor
Radical prostatectomy is a life-saving procedure for the early stages of prostate cancer. It is a surgery to remove the prostate and some of the surrounding tissues, all of which can affect the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscles are responsible for good urinary, bowel, and sexual function and act as dynamic support for your abdominal organs.
A prostatectomy can result in pelvic floor dysfunctions such as:
- Urinary incontinence
- Pelvic pain
- Sexual dysfunction
The issues after a post-radical prostatectomy often result in patients reporting lower quality of life. Life after surgery can bring about confusion and anger, which leads to depression and poor physical and psychological well-being.
Report All Of Your Symptoms
Studies have shown that men tend to avoid conversations with their medical doctor about post-operative side effects regarding their pelvic functions, even when they’re having a significant negative impact on quality of life. And more often than not, medical documents do not state pelvic floor dysfunctions. This creates a large discrepancy between what the medical team reports and what the patient perceives.
You can not begin the road to recovery if you do not stop and ask for directions. Report symptoms as soon as you can. Do not question them. Even small dribbles of urine count as urinary incontinence. Sometimes physicians are unaware of who to refer you to, so ask to be seen by a physical therapist knowledgeable in treating men after prostatectomies.
Physical Therapy Post Prostatectomy
A physical therapist trained in pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation can address your post-radical prostatectomy treatment effects, such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction. Your pelvic floor muscles need training and strengthening to perform at levels you had before surgery.
You can learn more from our knowledgeable and trained pelvic floor physical therapists. Contact the Smart Body Physical Therapy team for an appointment at 904-296-4140.
Borges, R.C., Tobias-Machado, M., Gabriotti, E.N. et al. (2019) Post-radical prostatectomy urinary incontinence: is there any discrepancy between medical reports and patients’ perceptions?. BMC Urol 19, 32. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12894-019-0464-6
Kiffel, J., & Sher, L. (2015). Prevention and management of depression and suicidal behavior in men with prostate cancer. Frontiers in public health, 3, 28. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00028
Scher HI, Solo K, Valant J, Todd MB, Mehra M (2015) Prevalence of Prostate Cancer Clinical States and Mortality in the United States: Estimates Using a Dynamic Progression Model. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0139440. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0139440