Sexual Health Q&A

How successful are penile rehabilitation programs (PRPs)?

Penile rehabilitation programs (PRPs) can help men restore their ability to have erections after prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland). However, several factors affect the success rate of PRPs:

  • The man must consider how well he was able to have erections before surgery. Men who had good erectile function beforehand can often recover that good function after penile rehabilitation. Men who had poor function may not be as successful.
  • The man needs to be compliant with the program, following his doctor’s instructions. Men who stick with the program diligently tend to have greater success than men who are not as dedicated.
  • Nerve-sparing also plays a role in recovery. The prostate gland is surrounded by nerves that are important for erectile function. Surgeons try to preserve as many nerves as possible, but usually there is some degree of nerve damage. The success of penile rehabilitation may depend on how much nerve damage results from surgery.
  • Other factors to consider are age, weight, smoking status, and any medical conditions like diabetes. Having additional treatments for prostate cancer, such as radiation and/or hormonal therapy, can also affect the outcome of penile rehabilitation.