The female factor: predicting compliance with a post-prostatectomy erectile preservation program

J Sex Med. 2010 Nov;7(11):3659-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02014.x. Epub 2010 Aug 31.


Introduction: Early post-radical prostatectomy (RP) erectile preservation (EP) therapy may be critical to preserve erections after surgery.

Aim: To assess if pre-RP female sexual function predicts of partner compliance with an EP protocol.

Main outcome measures: Compliance, defined as use of localized penile EP therapy (intracavernosal injections [ICIs], vacuum erection device [VED], or alprostadil) at 3 and 6 months after RP.

Methods: Records of patients enrolled in our EP program from April 2007 to June 2008 were reviewed. Before surgery, patients completed the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) and their female partners completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire. Prior to surgery, patients were advised to take sildenafil 25 mg every nightly and use a 250-µg alprostadil suppository three times/week. At 1 month, additional daily use of a VED was encouraged. All patients unable to achieve erections sufficient for penetration were encouraged to initiate ICI of Trimix (phentolamine, papaverine, and PGE1) twice weekly after 3 months following surgery. Data were analyzed using binary logistic regression analysis holding all input variables constant.

Results: Twenty-nine patients had preoperative SHIM>7 and pre-RP partner FSFI data available. After a 4-week follow-up, compliance with alprostadil suppository declined and both ICI and VED usage increased. At 6 months, six (25.0%) patients had return of natural erectile function and 22 (91.7%) were achieving assisted erections. Higher preoperative partner FSFI scores were associated with greater compliance to the localized penile therapy component of our EP protocol (risk ratio 3.8, P=0.05).

Conclusions: Preoperative female sexual function correlated with greater partner compliance with the localized component of our EP protocol. Consideration of a female partner's preoperative sexual function in predicting patient erectile function recovery after RP is warranted. Future studies are necessary to determine the clinical significance of this factor.

MeSH terms

  • Alprostadil / administration & dosage
  • Alprostadil / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / etiology*
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / prevention & control
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / psychology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Penile Erection*
  • Preoperative Care
  • Program Development
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Alprostadil