A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland and is typically used to treat prostate cancer. It is a major surgery with many potential side effects and complications, which is why it’s so important to have a solid plan in place for your recovery.
One key component of any post-prostatectomy recovery plan should be working with a pelvic floor physical therapist specifically that treats men(PFPT). Male pelvic floor therapists are experts in helping men recover from surgery and managing any urinary or sexual side effects. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider hiring a male pelvic floor physical therapist after your prostatectomy:
1. Improve Urinary Function
After a prostatectomy, you may experience urinary incontinence, urgency, frequency, and/or weak stream. Pelvic floor therapy can help improve your urinary function by teaching you how to properly engage your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your bladder and urethra, so it’s important to keep them strong post-surgery.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
One of the best ways to improve urinary function is to drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best option, but you can also drink unsweetened tea or decaffeinated teas. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces or eight glasses of fluid per day, or more if you are sweating a lot or have a medical condition that causes dehydration.
Avoid Foods and Drinks that irritate the bladder
Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and make urinary problems worse. These include alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, and acidic fruits. If you are having trouble with urinary function, try avoiding these substances to see if it makes a difference.
Eat More Fiber
Eating a high-fiber diet can also help to improve urinary function. Fiber helps to bulk up stool and makes it easier to pass through the digestive system. This can help to reduce the risk of constipation, which can lead to urinary problems. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Exercising regularly can also help to improve urinary function. Pelvic floor exercise helps to tone the muscles in the pelvis and can also help to reduce stress levels. Stress can contribute to urinary problems by causing muscle tension in the pelvic area.
2. Manage Sexual Side Effects
Many men experience sexual side effects after a prostatectomy, such as erectile dysfunction and loss of libido. A Pelvic floor PT can help by providing guidance on how to manage these side effects and improve sexual function.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common side effect following a prostatectomy. ED occurs when the nerves and blood vessels that are responsible for erections are damaged during surgery. While ED is a common side effect of prostatectomy, it is not a permanent one. There are a variety of treatments that can help to improve or resolve ED, including oral medications, penile injections, and penile implants.
A decreased libido, or sex drive, is another possible side effect of prostatectomy. This may be due to the removal of the prostate gland, which produces some of the hormones responsible for sexual desire. Additionally, the surgery can damage nerves and blood vessels that are responsible for sexual arousal and erections. While a decreased libido is often a temporary side effect of prostatectomy, there are treatments that can help to improve sexual function. These include testosterone replacement therapy, oral medications, and vacuum devices
Use assistive devices
There are a number of assistive devices that can help men to achieve and maintain an erection following a prostatectomy. These devices include penile injections, vacuum pumps, and penile implants.
3. Improve Quality of Life
The side effects of a prostatectomy can take a toll on your quality of life. Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help improve your overall quality of life by reducing urinary and sexual side effects and improving your overall wellness.
Some men may also experience fatigue, depression, and anxiety after surgery. While these symptoms can be effectively managed with medication and counseling, they can nonetheless have a significant impact on quality of life. For these reasons, it is important for men to be open with their partners and loved ones to know they are not alone.
4. Avoid Complications
There are many potential complications that can arise after a prostatectomy, such as urine leakage, constipation, pain during sex, and more. A PFPT can help you avoid these complications by teaching you how to properly care for your body post-surgery.
The best way to do that is ideally to start seeing a men’s pelvic health physical therapy prior to your operation. This way you can learn how to use your pelvic floor muscles while everything still feels “the same” down there. And if you haven’t heard, it’s way easier to relearn than it is to learn the first time.
5. Get Back to Normal
A prostatectomy is a major surgery that can have a significant impact on your life. Most men will feel some degree of discomfort and pain following a prostatectomy, which is to be expected given the nature of the surgery. However, there are a few things you can do to help make the recovery process as smooth as possible. First, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care. This will include things like taking it easy for the first few days, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and using an ice pack on your incision site. Second, try to stay on top of your pain medication schedule. This will help you stay ahead of the pain and avoiding any potential breakthrough pain. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family. Whether it’s help with household chores or just someone to talk to, having a supportive network will make a world of difference during your recovery.
A prostatectomy is a major surgery that comes with many potential side effects and complications. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid plan in place for your recovery—and one key component of any post prostatectomy recovery plan should be working with a pelvic floor physical therapist (PFPT). PFPTs are experts in helping men recover from surgery and managing any urinary or sexual side effects. So if you’re considering a prostatectomy, be sure to add “find a qualified pelvic floor physical therapist” to your list of things to do!