Side Effects of Surgery
Any man considering prostate surgery will want to weigh the risks and benefits of the procedure. The two major risks are incontinence, the loss of control over the release of urine, and impotence, the inability to get or sustain an erection. You will also lose your fertility and no longer be able to father a child.
Other risks include those of any major surgery: the potential for pain, infection, blood loss that requires a transfusion, and blood clots in the legs. Most of these problems, such as blood clots, are very rare, or they can be controlled with medication, such as pain after surgery.
Many men are afraid they will be incontinent after prostate surgery. However, with an expert surgeon, the risk of severe incontinence is less than 2 percent. Incontinence can often be corrected later with minor surgery.
Some degree of incontinence after surgery is common, but it usually only lasts a few days or weeks. You may need to wear a small pad to catch leaking urine. Ask your doctor about medication that may help with this problem.
Impotence is the inability to have or maintain an erection. Most men are impotent after prostate surgery, unless they have a nerve-sparing prostatectomy to preserve the nerve bundles that control erections, or a nerve-graft procedure. Even with the nerve-sparing procedure, you probably will have diminished function right after surgery, but this should improve as you recover.
Ask your doctor about medications or devices that can be used to help correct impotence.
If you have a prostatectomy, you will be infertile. If fertility is a concern for you, talk to your doctor about options such as freezing your sperm before your surgery so that it will be available if you want to father a child later on.