What Happens After Prostate Surgery?

If you have prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove part or all of your prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in front of the rectum and below the bladder.

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What Happens Right After Prostate Surgery?

After surgery, you’ll stay in the hospital for a day or two. You may feel sore, but nurses will encourage you to get up as soon as possible. Walking helps your body start to recover from the surgery and function normally again.

Because you can’t urinate on your own right away, you’ll have a catheter in your penis. The thin, flexible tube empties urine into a bag.

Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine for a few days immediately following surgery. After that, you’ll switch to over-the-counter pain meds.

What Happens When You Go Home?

Keep in mind that recovery from prostate surgery will take some time. Be patient, and know that:

You’ll need someone to drive you home from the hospital.

You shouldn’t drive for at least two weeks after the surgery.

You’ll go home with a catheter to remove urine.

It will stay in place for two to three weeks until your urethra heals. (You can hide the bag inside your pants.) You’ll return to the hospital to have the catheter removed.

You may have some swelling.

If your penis and scrotum are swollen, an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) can help. Snug-fitting underwear can also help reduce swelling.

You should wait three or four weeks to begin vigorous exercise.

Walking is fine. Running, weightlifting, and long bike rides are not. Likewise, you should wait at least two to three weeks to return to work.

Common Side Effects of Prostate Surgery

Most men who have prostate surgery can experience some side effects, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED) — at least temporarily. How long these side effects last depends on your age, overall health, and the extent of your surgery.

Urinary incontinence

After prostate surgery, it may take weeks or even months to regain normal bladder control. You may leak some urine, or not be able to control your urine at all. You may need to wear disposable underwear for a while.

The good news is that doctors can treat urinary incontinence after prostate surgery. Here’s how:

  • Kegel exercises — This movement strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor, giving you better control of your urine flow.
  • Medicine — Some drugs can help control bladder spasms (the urgent feeling that you need to “go”).
  • Bladder training — You train your bladder to use the restroom at certain times. Over a period of time, you wait longer and longer before emptying your bladder.
  • Injections — Doctors can inject collagen into the area around the urethra to help it work properly.
  • Surgery — There are several surgical options for treating incontinence after removal of the prostate.

Erectile dysfunction

Nearly all men who have prostate surgery experience ED for at least a few months afterwards. Sometimes it lasts longer. There are many ways to treat ED.

  • Oral medicines —Prescription drugs like Viagra and Cialis can help with ED.
  • Vacuum devices —This is a mechanical pump placed over the penis. As the air moves out of the pump, it draws blood into the penis to create an erection.
  • Penile injection — You can inject a synthetic hormone into the base of the penis before sex. There’s also a suppository form you place in the tip of the penis.
  • Penile implants — Doctors surgically insert silicone rods or an inflatable device into the penis. You may want to try this option if others don’t work.

Changes in orgasm

You should still be able to have an orgasm after prostate surgery. In some men, the orgasm becomes less intense. Because doctors remove the prostate and seminal vesicles that make semen, you won’t ejaculate any fluid.

Loss of fertility

Your testicles will still make sperm, but they can’t leave the body. So, after prostate surgery, you can’t father a child the natural way. For this reason, some men choose to bank their sperm before the surgery so they can have a biological child.

To learn more about prostate surgery or to schedule an appointment with the UPMC Department of Urology, please call 1-800-533-8762 or visit UPMC.com/urology. For male sexual and reproductive health issues, you can reach out to the UPMC Men’s Health Center at 1-877-641-4MEN (4636) to connect with an expert.

Sources

Urology Care Foundation, Life After Prostate Cancer

https://www.urologyhealth.org/patient-magazine/magazine-archives/2019/fall-2019/life-after-prostate-cancer-treatment

ProstateCancer.net, Tips for Bladder Control After Surgery

https://prostatecancer.net/living/urinary-control-after-surgery/

American Cancer Society, Surgery for Prostate Cancer

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/surgery.html

National Cancer Institute, Prostate Cancer Treatment

https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/patient/prostate-treatment-pdq

About Urology

The UPMC Department of Urology treats all manners of conditions involving the urinary tract and male reproductive organs. We treat those disorders both in children and adults. We have a multifaceted team of physicians and researchers working together to provide the best care. We provide cutting-edge treatments, and we continue to lead research into even better methods for diagnosis and treatment. U.S. News & World Report ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as among the best hospitals in the country for urological care.