Erectile Dysfunction, Bladder Problems and Your Prostate

by Justin Harmon, D.O. Health Professional

Many men are bothered with urinary problems along with their erectile dysfunction. It has been shown that severe problems with BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy (the non-cancerous growth of a prostate) can compromise erections.

The prostate lives between the bladder (the storage organ for urine) and the urethra (the tube in the penis through which we urinate). Urine must pass through the prostate after it leaves the bladder. The prostate can be thought of as an apple. Normally the core of the apple is hollowed out, and urine passes freely through the prostate and into the urethra then out of the body.

As we get older as men, it is an unfortunate fact of life that the prostate grows. It can commonly grow into the core area of the apple and slow the flow of urine (now the urethra-pipeline-is narrower. This will slow the flow of urine and possibly not allow the bladder to completely empty. This can create the feeling that you have to still have to void after you just urinated.

Imagine trying to have an erection or thinking about sex when you really feel the need to urinate. Obviously that would be difficult. Some men witness varying degrees of this sensation, and erections are affected. To combat this problem, treatment must be delivered to the prostate to help relieve the blockage. Usually this treatment goes hand in hand with the treatment of erectile dysfunction under the care of your urologist.

There have also been studies performed using the phosphodiesterase inhibitors (Viagra family of medicines) to treat urinary problems. These studies are still ongoing as the exact relationship between the prostate, bladder and erectile function is further understood.

Infection of the prostate, called prostatitis, can also lead to erectile problems. Prostatitis can be caused by a sexually transmitted disease (Chlamydia, etc.) or from the bacteria common in the feces (E. coli, etc.). The cause often depends on the age of the patient. Younger patients are more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease than a very old patient. Older patients may get the infection from incomplete bladder emptying, and the residual (or stale) urine serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. This condition can cause severe burning with urination, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine, fever, chills, and the need to strain or push to get the urine out. None of these symptoms make sex a very attractive activity.

This can lead to erectile dysfunction. Treatment for this problem includes a long course of antibiotics and sometimes other medications to relax the prostate. Sexual function and ejaculatory problems usually return to baseline following successful treatment. If they do not, there is a chance the treatment course was not long enough, or that there are other factors contributing to the erection problems.

Justin Harmon, D.O.
Meet Our Writer
Justin Harmon, D.O.

Justin wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Erectile Dysfunction and Prostate Cancer. He is a practicing urologist in Pennsylvania.