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Benefits of Using a Penis Pump Before and After Prostate Surgery

Penis Pump before and after prostate surgery


What Is a Radical Prostatectomy?


Radical prostatectomy (prostate surgery to remove the prostate gland) is most often done to treat localized prostate cancer. Less often, a simple prostatectomy is done to relieve symptoms associated with BPH (benign enlargement of the prostate gland). Radical prostatectomy involves removing the entire prostate as well as some of the surrounding tissue, including nerves and lymph nodes.

One of the side effects of prostate surgery is erectile dysfunction. In fact, several studies cite an 85% occurrence rate, which means about up to 9 out of 10 men who undergo this procedure end up with some degree of impotence. Penile rehabilitation refers to therapies that can help preserve penile tissue and restore erectile function in men who have undergone prostate removal.

A vacuum erection device or penis pump is an effective intervention to improve penis health in men with impaired erectile function after surgery. What are the benefits of using a penis pump before and after prostate surgery? Let’s find out.


Why does prostate surgery cause erectile dysfunction?


Why does prostate surgery cause erectile dysfunction?In men with prostate cancer that has not spread outside the gland itself, surgery is often the recommended treatment. Radical prostatectomy involves removing the entire gland along with the seminal vesicles and some surrounding tissue. There are several types of prostate surgery, including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted procedures.

In the retropubic approach, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen, from the navel to the pubic area. The prostate is carefully separated from surrounding nerves and blood vessels before it is removed along with adjoining tissue. In the perineal approach, an incision is made between the anus and the scrotum.

This is a shorter operation and is preferred when lymph nodes do not need to be removed. However, the perineal approach is associated with a higher incidence of post-surgery erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of prostate surgery. Nerves in the penis play a critical role in the development of erections. Two bundles of nerves are present on either side of the prostate gland. Although surgeons take great care to avoid cutting these nerves during the procedure, some degree of damage does occur. This is the reason that erection problems are common after prostate removal even with a nerve-sparing approach.

Not everyone suffers from loss of spontaneous erections after prostatectomy. The ability to have an erection after prostate surgery depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Erectile function before the operation
  • The degree of nerve injury during the procedure
  • Type of surgery
  • Experience of the surgeon

Older men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction following prostate removal due to age-related effects. A man’s erectile function before surgery also plays a role, and men with good penis health are more likely to retain erectile ability post-procedure. The type of procedure performed is also important.

Surgeons do their best to preserve the nerves during the surgery, but as noted, the perineal approach is associated with a higher rate of ED. Erection problems are equally common following a laparoscopic approach versus an open approach. However, studies show that robotic-assisted prostatectomy has better erectile function recovery rates.


Should I use a penis pump to help improve penile health before prostate surgery?


A penis pump use is like exercise for the penis. Just like exercising the body is good for overall general health, regular use of a penis pump is good preparation for prostate surgery. Erections occur when an immense amount of blood flows into the penis and engorges it. When the penis remains flaccid for Penis Pumplong periods of time, penile tissue is deprived of oxygen-rich blood.

This leads to a loss of flexibility and scar tissue formation in the corpora cavernosa (the smooth muscles that relax and allow blood to flow into the penis during erections). The resultant inability of the penis to expand leads to erectile dysfunction Simply put, erectile function is a use-it-or-lose-it deal. Using a penis pump before prostate removal can improve penis health.


Why is it recommended to start using the vacuum device before the prostate surgery?


A penis pump or vacuum erection device (VED) consists of an acrylic cylinder that is placed around the penis. When air is pumped out of the cylinder, the vacuum that is created causes blood to flow into the penis, making it rigid and erect. Using a vacuum erection device before prostate surgery, therefore, improves blood circulation, which in turn helps to maintain a healthy penis.

Healthy tissue recovers faster from surgery. A common side effect of prostate removal is penile shrinkage in terms of both length and circumference. Penis pumps help maintain preoperative penis size and minimize the effect of shrinkage following surgery.


How do penis pumps help with penile rehabilitation after prostate surgery?


The nerves in the penis that trigger erections may be damaged during the procedure to remove the prostate. The neuropraxia (temporary loss in nerve function) takes time to recover. This means that the ability to have spontaneous erections after surgery often returns slowly. In fact, it can take several months to years to regain sexual function after prostate cancer. During this time, men are unable to experience even nighttime erections.

Rather than waiting for erectile function to return on its own, doctors feel that regaining erectile function after prostate surgery can be helped along by a penile rehabilitation program. Penile rehabilitation is a type of physical therapy for the penis. Following prostate removal, a penis pump helps recover erectile function by regularly exercising the penis.

This keeps the penile tissue healthy and allows the nerves in the penis to regenerate so that eventually satisfactory erections can occur. Studies show that penis pumps are a safe, well-tolerated, and effective method of penile rehabilitation.

A penis pump creates negative pressure and increases blood flow to the penis. Engorgement of the penis with blood is necessary for strong and long-lasting erections. In addition, the blood flowing into the penis carries nutrients that are essential for a healthy penis. By mechanically pumping blood into the penis, a VED helps preserve the tissue and minimize damage while allowing the nerves time to heal.


How long after the surgery may I start using the penis pump for rehabilitation exercises?


Most men are advised to begin using a vacuum constriction device within two months of nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. A survey of more than 600 urologists from the American Urological Association showed that the overwhelming majority (97%) of physicians start rehab within four months of prostate surgery.

Authors Dalkin BL and Christopher BA published a clinical study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.  In an article titled Preservation of penile length after radical prostatectomy: early intervention with a vacuum erection device. Sep-Oct;19(5):501-4. Epub 2007 Jul 26. In this article, they describe when the participants of the study used a penis pump for penile rehabilitation.  Daily use of a vacuum erection device was begun the day after catheter removal and continued for 90 days.  It is recommended to work with your physician to determine when to start using the penis pump for rehabilitation exercises. 


How do the results impact penile tissue?


Fibrotic changes (scarring) lead to shortening and decrease in girth of the penis following surgery. Venous leakage from damaged tissues is also thought to play a role in the development of erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery. Penile rehabilitation with a penis pump helps maintain penile length and girth. It also helps with nerve recovery and overall tissue health for quicker recovery.

The authors of a 2016 clinical study determined that the average loss of penile length (penile shortening) after radical prostatectomy was 1.87 cm and 1.82 cm respectively. They further determined that men who use a vacuum erection device that no significant changes in penile length (penile shortening) were observed in men using a vacuum erection device after surgery.


How long does it take to see results?


Results are not immediate and it can take several months to notice a difference. One study found that 17 percent of men had a return of natural erections after using a VED device for nine months. Doctors typically recommend the use of a penis pump for at least 12-18 months after prostate surgery for penile rehabilitation.

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How to keep an erection after Prostate Cancer

Couple and physician reviewing erectile health

Couple learning about prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction from a doctor


Overwhelmed is the only word to accurately describe your emotions on the day your life seemed to change. Test results established your PSA levels were elevated, this led to a biopsy. The biopsy was positive… you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

It’s normal and natural to experience anxiety, but here is the good news. You have countless reasons be optimistic about the future. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in its early stages, you likely have a very treatable condition.


Mens healthThis year alone 161,360 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Deaths related to prostate cancer continue to decline in the United States. Successful prostate cancer treatments are changing fears from concerns about mortality, to thoughts around the quality of your life after treatment.

A man who has been treated successfully shifts his thinking from loss of life, to his sex life and potential loss of intimacy with a loved one. Once the cancer is gone, the question quickly becomes can I keep my erection after prostate cancer?


Sex after prostate cancer


Having realistic expectations is a good starting place for men and their partners. The following key factors will determine how to keep an erection after surviving prostate cancer.

  1. The type of prostate cancer treatment administered and side effects if one or bother nerve bundles are removed or damaged.
  2. Whether a man had good erectile function prior to treatment
  3. Age plays a role in sexual health after prostate cancer



Happy  middle aged coupleSex after a radical prostatectomy


The prostate gland is removed when undergoing a radical proctectomy by a urologist. Nerve bundles that effect erectile function are intertwined with blood vessels so “nerve sparing” techniques are commonly used to assist in the ability of men undergoing a radical prostatectomy to preserve healthy sexual function after the surgery.

The way in which men experience orgasms and changes in ejaculation are also very different after a radical prostatectomy.  

Harvard medical school published a 2017 annual report which is good resource for setting expectations on sex after a radical prostatectomy.

A minimally invasive surgical procedure, called robotic prostatectomy, uses finely controlled robotic instruments to perform nerve sparing surgery, while enhancing patient recovery and outcome.  Even so sexual problems can include dry ejaculation, penile shrinkage, and erectile dysfunction.

Almost all men experience erectile dysfunction for several months to a year after a radical prostatectomy.  Post-operative treatments can improve the return of natural erectile function. 


 Prostate cancer rehabilitation


Prostate cancer rehabilitation


Penile rehabilitation programs after radical prostatectomy are used by urologist to improve erection problems after surgery.  Penile rehabilitation programs (PRPs) are like a form of physical therapy or erectile dysfunction exercises to induce penile erections for sexual recovery.  This process keeps erectile tissues healthy while the remaining nerves heal from surgery.

The use of an erectile dysfunction pump or vacuum erection device in penile rehabilitation is reportedly effective. According to a clinical study published in May of 2016, the use of a vacuum pump may prevent loss of penile length following a radical prostatectomy.  This is good news for men who want to know how to keep an erection naturally.


prostate cancer radiation treatment facility

Sex after prostate cancer radiation treatment



A radiation oncologist is likely to administer radiation treatments.  External beam radiation is a treatment delivered through a machine used to aim high-energy rays (or beams) from outside the tumor into the tumor. Brachytherapy or seed implant treatment places small radioactive seeds within the prostate itself, giving the prostate gland localized radiation therapy. Forty percent of men report ED after radiation treatment.

A clinical study was conducted to determine if tadafil (Cialis) preserved erectile function in men treated with radiotherapy for prostate cancer.  Among 221 participants it was observed that daily use of tadafil (Cialis) did not improve sexual activity.  The findings did not support the use of Cialis (tadafil) to prevent ED.  While men may not have positive results with Cialis, penile injections and erectile dysfunction pumps are usually successful treatments.


 Sex after Cryotherapy


Sex after Cryotherapy


Cryotherapy is the use of very cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells. Despite being called cryosurgery, it is not actually a type of surgery. The doctor uses transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) to guide several hollow probes (needles) through the skin between the anus and scrotum and into the prostate. Very cold gases are then passed through the needles to freeze and destroy the prostate.

Erectile dysfunction is more common after cryotherapy than after radical prostatectomy. According to a study in The journal of sexual medicine, the impairment of ED is considered a serious complication of whole gland prostate cryoablation. Erectile dysfunction pumps are one of the only effective treatments when freezing bilateral cavernous (chambers within the penis) nerves occurs.


Sex after Hormone replacement therapy or chemotherapy


Hormone replacement therapy or chemotherapy

Doctors who treat cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy are typically medical oncologist. Both of these treatments come in the form of drugs and/or chemicals.  Often hormone replacement therapy and chemotherapy are useful when other prostate cancer treatments have failed or the cancer has spread.

Seminal vesicles invasion means the tumor has spread to the seminal vesicles which are attached to the prostate gland.  To prevent the spread of cancerous tumors Seminal Vesicle-Sparing procedures are often employed.

Hormone replacement or chemotherapy are sometimes used to complement other prostate cancer treatments and are not necessarily treatments of last resort in all cases.  Because of the variety of drugs and chemicals, the impact on sexual function differs tremendously.


Hormone replacement medications for prostate cancer


LHRH agonists:

  • Leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard)
  • Goserelin (Zoladex)
  • Triptorelin (Trelstar)
  • Histrelin (Vantas)
  • Abiraterone (Zytiga)


Chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer


  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Cabazitaxel (Jevtana)
  • Mitoxantrone (Novantrone)
  • Estramustine (Emcyt)


The drugs listed above are only a sample of what is available and is used to illustrate a truth.  Because of the range and variety of drugs used in both these treatments the impact on sexual function can range from sever to insignificant.  

Hormone replacement therapy for prostate cancer, for example, can often impact sex drive rather that create erectile dysfunction. It is important to work with your physician to explore all available treatment options.  How to keep a healthy erection?


Man and woman in bed together


How to keep an erection after prostate cancer


The following treatments for erectile dysfunction after prostate cancer should be reviewed by you and your physician. These treatments are listed from the least invasive to the most invasive.

  • Vacuum Therapy
  • Oral medications
  • Urethral Suppositories
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Penile Injections
  • Penile revascularization
  • Penile Implants

Augusta Medical Systems manufactures Soma Therapy-ED which is the best in class erectile dysfunction pump or vacuum therapy device. AMS has filled prescriptions for over half of the urologist in the United States.  You can purchase now without a prescription!

Soma Therapy-ED erectile dysfunction pump vacuum therapy device














If you can questions please call customer support at 1-800-827-8382.

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