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.

Afterward, you’ll have recovery time in the hospital and at home. Here’s what to expect.

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What Happens After Prostate Surgery?

If you’ve been told you need prostate surgery, you may be wondering what to expect.

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 medications.

What Happens When You Go Home?

Keep in mind that recovery from prostate surgery will take some time. Be patient with yourself. Here are some things to expect after prostate removal:

  • 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 also can help reduce swelling.
  • You should wait three or four weeks to begin vigorous exercise. Walking is fine. Running, weightlifting, and taking long bike rides are not. Likewise, you should wait at least two to three weeks to return to work.

What to Expect After Prostate Removal: Common Side Effects

Most men who have prostate surgery 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:

  • Bladder training — You train your bladder by using the restroom only at certain times. Over time, you build how long you can wait between bathroom breaks.
  • Injections — Doctors can inject collagen into the area around the urethra to help it work properly.
  • 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”).
  • 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 afterward. Sometimes it lasts longer. There are many ways to treat ED.

  • Oral medicines — Prescription drugs such as Viagra and Cialis can help with ED.
  • Vacuum device — This mechanical pump is 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

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.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

Urology Care Foundation, Life After Prostate Cancer, Tips for Bladder Control After Surgery

American Cancer Society, Surgery for Prostate Cancer

National Cancer Institute, Prostate Cancer Treatment

About Urology

The UPMC Department of Urology offers a wide variety of specialized care for diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs, including erectile dysfunction, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, prostate cancer, and more. We have a multifaceted team of physicians and researchers working together to provide the best care to both children and adults. Our team is nationally renowned for expertise in highly specialized technologies and minimally invasive surgical techniques. To find a provider near you, visit our website.