Practice may make perfect or, at least, better.

Research published this month from the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York suggests that men recovering from surgery for prostate cancer could minimise their chances of developing the common and unwelcome side effect of erectile dysfunction, by practising erections regularly, often and soon after surgery.

Radical prostatectomy, the operation to remove the prostate gland, is one of the choices of treatment available for early prostate cancer but erectile dysfunction (ED) is a well known potential side effect. The research literature has shown that at least 20% and as many as 90% of men could be affected after surgery. Due to the use of the PSA test, more and younger men are now being diagnosed with prostate cancer in the earliest stages. This means more men are at risk of long term impaired sexual function so evidence on how to minimise it is of global concern.
 
This new study was undertaken to work out whether men committing to early rehabilitation of their erections - defined as less than 6 months after surgery - did better than a second group who delayed until six months or more after surgery. Both groups of men were instructed to use Viagra three times a week, and if that did not work to move onto achieving erections via injections. At two years after surgery the 48 men who started rehabilitating  their erections soon after surgery, on average 2 months after their operations, were significantly more likely to be successful than the 36 men who delayed starting until six months were up.     
 
It seems that the inclination of urologists to advise men to ‘use it or lose it’ is not vain hope but is, whilst not a promise, a reasonable suggestion.
 
British Journal of Urology International Vol.105 Num. 1 January 1 2010  Mulhall et al