Is Sexual Function Better Preserved After Water Vapor Thermal Therapy or Medical Therapy for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

J Sex Med. 2018 Dec;15(12):1728-1738. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.10.006. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


Background: Men often experience deterioration of sexual function after the use of α-blockers and 5-α reductase inhibitors for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) attributed to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Thus, an alternative treatment with water vapor thermal therapy (Rezūm System, Boston Scientific, Marlborough, MA, USA) which is an efficacious minimally invasive surgical treatment that preserves sexual function was examined.

Aim: To compare sexual function over 3 years after continuous daily treatment with pharmaceutical agents in the Medical Therapy of Prostatic Symptoms (MTOPS) study vs a single thermal therapy procedure (Rezūm study) in subjects with matched criteria for LUTS severity and prostate size.

Methods: We used sexual function data from sexually active cohorts in the MTOPS study (1,209) randomized to doxazosin, finasteride, combination drugs and placebo, and sexually active men who received thermal therapy (86). MTOPS study participants completed the Brief Male Sexual Function Inventory; men in the Rezūm trial completed the International Index of Erectile Function and Male Sexual Health Questionnaire.

Main outcome measure: Estimated mean changes from baseline for sexual function variables were compared using a linear mixed repeated measures model with fixed effects for treatment and follow-up visits.

Results: With continued daily drug use, men experienced significant worsening of sexual desire, erectile and ejaculatory function with finasteride and combination drug therapy, and reduced desire and erectile function with doxazosin. Thermal therapy was not associated with significant negative changes in sexual function throughout 3 years after treatment.

Clinical implications: Water vapor thermal therapy can result in greater LUTS improvements than either doxazosin or finasteride alone, whereas combination drug therapy may equal that of this Rezūm procedure, but all drug therapies did have a significant negative impact on sexual function in contrast to the preservation of libido, erectile, and ejaculatory function after thermal therapy.

Strength & limitations: The report includes high-quality data from 2 large randomized controlled trials in subjects with similar baseline inclusion criteria for LUTS severity and prostate size. It is the first longitudinal assessment of sexual function domains restricted to sexually active men treated with drugs or a single minimally invasive surgical treatment with the Rezūm procedure. A limitation of the study is the use of 2 different, although validated sexual function inventories (Brief Male Sexual Function Inventory and International Index of Erectile Function).

Conclusion: A single water vapor thermal therapy procedure for targeted prostate tissue ablation for LUTS/ benign prostatic hyperplasia had no deleterious effect on 4 sexual function domains compared with appreciable worsening of sexual function after long-term single or combination drug use. McVary KT, Rogers T, Mahon J, et al. Is Sexual Function Better Preserved After Water Vapor Thermal Therapy or Medical Therapy for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia? J Sex Med 2018;15:1728-1738.

Keywords: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia; Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms; Medical Therapy; Sexual Function; Water Vapor Thermal Therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Doxazosin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods*
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penile Erection
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / complications
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / therapy*
  • Steam*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Steam
  • Doxazosin