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Any operation involving a part of the body necessary for erection can cause potency problems if it disturbs crucial arteries and nerves. The following operations have the greatest potential for causing erection problems.

Prostate Surgery

The prostate is strategically located—it’s surrounded by nerves that control the penis, and arteries necessary for erection are close by. Thafs why surgical removal of the gland can cause potency problems. The prostate is removed for two reasons: a noncancerous (benign) enlargement of the gland that causes unpleasant side effects, or prostate cancer. Each condition requires a different type of surgery, and the resulting effects on potency can be dramatically different.

Surgery for Benign Enlargement of the Prostate A noncancerous enlargement of the prostate can go for years without causing any problems. Sometimes, however, it can cause serious, even life-threatening situations by causing urine backup and kidney damage.

More often, the prostate enlargement results in irritating but minor difficulties: difficult or slow urination, having to go to the bathroom very frequently and feeling the need to go almost all the time, even when there’s not much urine in the bladder.

The solution to these unpleasant symptoms is the partial removal of the inner prostate, an operation called transurethral prostatectomy (TURP for short). This procedure doesn’t require any incision, since the surgeon inserts his instruments through the end of the penis. And the shell (the exterior) of the gland is left intact. About 10 percent of men over the age of 50 have this surgery.

What does the operation do to potency? The short answer is: It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help. If a man has normal erections before surgery, usually he won’t have any problems after the operation. Fortunately, nature placed the nerves crucial to erection along the outside of the prostate, an area left untouched by the surgeon. If a man does have erection problems prior to surgery, however, typically they won’t get better, and may become worse. Why? It may be because the nerves near the outer layer of the prostate are mildly damaged during surgery, or because of scarring that occurs during healing.


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