Neglected side effects after radical prostatectomy: a systematic review

J Sex Med. 2014 Feb;11(2):374-85. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12403. Epub 2013 Nov 25.


Introduction: A series of previously neglected sexually related side effects to radical prostatectomy (RP) has been identified over the recent years. These include orgasm-associated incontinence (OAI), urinary incontinence in relation to sexual stimulation (UISS), altered perception of orgasm, orgasm-associated pain (OAP), penile shortening (PS), and penile deformity.

Aim: The aim of this article is to conduct a systematic review of the literature regarding the above-mentioned side effects.

Methods: A predefined search strategy was applied in a thorough search of Medline, Web of science, and the online Cochrane library. The PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed, and protocol as well as search strategies was registered at (RN: CRD42012003165).

Main outcome measure: The main outcome measure was incidence rates for the relevant side effects.

Results: A total of 43 articles were included. OAI and UISS are experienced by 20-93% of RP patients at least a few times after surgery. Although these issues are associated to postoperative daytime incontinence, previous transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is the only known predicting factor. Alterations of orgasmic function are experienced by approximately 80% after RP. Erectile dysfunction seems to play an important role in waning orgasmic function. OAP is only experienced by a subset of the patients with reported rates varying between 3% and 19%. Sparing of the tips of the seminal vesicles has been shown to double the risk of OAP. PS occurs in 15-68% of RP patients. Nerve sparing and preservation of erectile function may help preserve penile length. With regard to all side effects, studies indicate that they are reduced over time.

Conclusions: The sexually related side effects summarized in this review are common after RP. Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict which patients are at risk. Daytime incontinence, previous TURP, a lack of nerve sparing, and erectile dysfunction are all associated with the above-mentioned sexually related side effects.

Keywords: Climacturia; Dysorgasmia; Orgasm-Associated Pain; Penile Length; Radical Prostatectomy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orgasm
  • Penile Diseases / epidemiology
  • Penile Diseases / etiology*
  • Penile Erection
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress / etiology*