Recovery After Prostate Cancer Surgery
Having your prostate removed is a highly effective means of curing prostate cancer. Unfortunately, because of the prostate’s “precarious” location – smack in a busy area at the crossroads of the urinary and genital tracts, connected to the bladder on one end, the urethra on the other end, touching upon the rectum, and nestled behind the pubic bone in a well-protected nook of the body, its removal has the potential for causing some unwanted and undesirable side effects.
Often times, urologists are so focused on removing the cancer (and saving the patient’s life) that not enough time is spent educating patients on what they can do to minimize the negative effects of the surgery. By strengthening the pelvic floor prior to and after surgery, patients can greatly reduce and reverse such effects.
Side Effects Of Prostate Cancer Surgery
Trauma to nerves, blood vessels, and muscular tissue during surgery can compromise sexual function and urinary control. A small percentage of men experience significant urinary incontinence, whereas, many men will experience mild leakage. Many men note a decline in their ability to obtain and maintain an erection after the surgery.
Additional sexually related side effects that may occur include:
- Urinary leakage with foreplay and arousal
- Ejaculation of urine at the time of sexual climax
- Less intense orgasms and possibly pain with climax
- A change in penile size with a decrease in flaccid length
- Erectile length and girth
- A penile deformity
The Importance Of Strengthening The Pelvic Floor Muscles
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of pelvic floor muscle training after prostate surgery in terms of hastening the recovery of urinary control and significantly improving the severity of the incontinence as well as having a beneficial impact on the recovery of erectile function in terms of the duration and severity of the erectile dysfunction.1
Because of the potential urinary and sexual side effects of radical prostatectomy, it is a prudent strategy to commit to a program of Kegel pelvic floor exercises both before and after the prostate surgery. It makes sense to become proficient in these exercises proactively, before the trauma of surgery, so you go into the operation armed with precise knowledge and awareness of the pelvic floor muscles as well as with their increased strength, tone, power and endurance.
An Effective Pelvic Muscle Exercise Program
A quality pelvic floor muscle training program must be well-designed and adhere to the 4 principles promoted by Arnold Kegel, the namesake of pelvic floor muscle training:
1. Muscle Education – This is an understanding of your pelvic floor muscle anatomy and function. Most men are clueless as to where their pelvic floor muscles are, what they do, how to exercise them, and what benefits they confer. In fact, many men don’t even know that they have pelvic floor muscles!
Muscle education will give you the wherewithal to develop muscle memory; the development of the nerve pathway from your brain to your pelvic floor muscles.
2. Biofeedback – Feedback is a means of confirming that you are exercising the proper muscles.
3. Progressive intensity – Over the course of time, you gradually increase reps (number of repetitions), intensity of contraction and duration of contraction. Progression is the key to increase your pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance. Additionally, it allows you to measure and monitor your progress and witness your increased capabilities over time.
4. Resistance – Adds a dimension that further challenges the growth of your pelvic floor muscles. Working your pelvic muscles against resistance rapidly escalates their strength and endurance, since muscle growth occurs in direct proportion to the demands and resistances placed upon them, a basic principle of muscle physiology. It is similar to the difference between doing arm curls without weights versus with weights.
Failure to prepare, is preparing to fail. Before embarking on prostate surgery, make every effort to get in the best general physical shape as well as achieve the best pelvic fitness as possible. Yet another reason to exercise, eat properly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle are the advantages that accrue when you get ill and need surgery. A prepared pelvic floor will do wonders in helping to recover erections and urinary control.
|↑1||Geraerts, Inge, et al. “Pelvic floor muscle training for erectile dysfunction and climacturia 1 year after nerve sparing radical prostatectomy: a randomized controlled trial.” International journal of impotence research (2015).”|