Can You Live Without Your Prostate?

By Michaele Curtis

The prostate is a gland that secretes fluid that helps with the male reproductive process. Prostate removal is usually done to prevent the spread of prostatic cancer. While it is possible to live without your prostate, there are inconvenient many side effects associated with the procedure.

The Prostate

The prostate, a doughnut-shaped gland, surrounds the male urethra just below its connection to the bladder. The prostate may be closely connected to major parts of the urinary system, but it is actually a part of the reproductive system. It is connected to the urethra so that during ejaculation it can secrete prostatic fluid into the semen. Prostatic fluid contains nutrients that help the sperm stay alive longer in the vagina and make successful reproduction more likely.

Prostate Removal

A prostatectomy is the removal of all or part of a prostate. The main reason that you might have your prostate removed is because you have contracted prostate cancer, or an uncontrolled growth of cells on the prostate. The removal is to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of your body. You may also have a prostatectomy because your prostate has enlarged through the normal aging process. However, this is far less likely and only done if prostate is putting pressure on the urethra and making it difficult or impossible to urinate.

Procedures

There are three main types of prostate removal procedures. The most common is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). A lighted tube is inserted into urethra through the tip of your penis. Using special cutting instruments, the prostate is removed piece by piece. A laser prostatectomy is much less invasive because it uses beams of light to remove the prostate tissue. An open prostatectomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the perineum or the lower abdomen. The inner prostate is scooped out, but the outside structure remains.

Recovery

Your recovery time will depend on what procedure was used to remove your prostate. TURP means up to three days in the hospital. Open prostatectomy requires a much longer hospital stay than TURP based on how quickly our surgery site heals. On the other hand, laser prostatectomy is the least invasive of the procedures and is an outpatient procedure. You may need to rest for a few days, but you will be able to go home the same day as the procedure.

Long-term Side Effects

There are two main side effects associated with prostate removal: incontinence and impotence. Although nearly everyone who has prostate removal will have trouble controlling their bladder in the first few days, some experience incontinence as a long-term side effect. You doctor may suggest pelvic exercises or surgery to correct the problem. Impotence may also occur from nerve damage during the surgery. You can treat this side effect with drugs or penile implants. Again, talk to your doctor who will discuss your options.

References

About the Author

Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.

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