Sexual Dysfunction After Pelvic Surgery

C Zippe; K Nandipati; A Agarwal; R Raina


Int J Impot Res. 2006;18(1):1-18. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Pelvic surgeries are among the most common causes of organic sexual dysfunction in men and women. The impact of nerve-sparing surgery on potency has been well documented in radical prostatectomy. However, its impact on potency needs to be evaluated in other pelvic surgeries. Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent even after multiple technical advances in the field of oncological surgeries. The prevalence varies from 8 to 82%, depending on the type of pelvic surgery. In females, sexual dysfunction has not been evaluated adequately using validated questionnaires. However, in subspecialized circles, treatment for female sexual dysfunction is becoming routine. Currently, physicians have several options for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Since the introduction of oral PDE-5 inhibitors, oral therapy has become the first-line treatment option for ED, irrespective of etiology. Currently available treatment options for the female sexual dysfunction include estrogens, androgens, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, and dopamine receptor antagonists. Initial reports regarding the role of early rehabilitation are encouraging and may become the part of routine practice in the management of ED after pelvic surgery. In this article, we summarize the sexual dysfunction following pelvic surgeries and their management.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse.[1] Several factors have been implicated in the etiology of ED. Vascular and neurogenic causes are the most common among them. Diabetes, smoking and hypertension are the most important risk factors for vasculogenic sexual dysfunction. Neurological dysfunction is mainly associated with certain neurological syndromes like autonomic neuropathy. Sexual dysfunction after pelvic surgery has been an important and underreported cause of ED. The pathophysiology of sexual dysfunction after pelvic surgery is unique because it can be either vascular or neurogenic factors alone, or a combination of both. The pelvic surgeries in males that are associated with considerable ED include radical prostatectomy (RP), radical cystoprostatectomy (cystectomy) and low anterior or abdominoperineal resections (APRs) for rectal cancer. The pelvic surgeries in females associated with sexual dysfunction include radical cystectomy (RC) for bladder cancer, radical hysterectomy for cancers of the cervix and endometrium and, potentially, simple hysterectomy for benign tumors.

In this article, we summarize male and female sexual dysfunction following pelvic surgeries for prostate, bladder and rectal cancer. We also discuss our experience in the treatment of sexual dysfunction following RP and RC.


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