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Sexual Side Effects – Cryosurgery

In the comment section of, I have seen cryosurgery mentioned only a few times. The side effects are fewer when compared to other medication and treatment. This article will offer a look into cryosurgery: what is it, how does it work, and what are the usual side effects?

Cryosurgery and side effects

Cryosurgery was initially used in the U.S. in the early 90s. Currently, doctors are using the 3rd Generation of ‘cryoneedles’ with Argon gas since 1997 to freeze cancer in a localized area of the prostate gland.1

There are a set of nerves that sit on either side of the prostate gland called the neurovascular nerve bundles. In order to get rid of the cancer cells, the surgeon freezes and thaws the entire prostate gland, including the nerve bundles. It’s through these bundles the brain triggers erections so when these nerves are damaged or destroyed, an erection will not happen. To add, depending on the area that received the cryo-treatment, blood flow to the penis may even be decreased or blocked.

One article stated the nerve bundles have the ability to regenerate over time2. Some men who had erectile dysfunction (ED) after surgery were eventually able to get and maintain erections firm enough for sexual intercourse.

Nerve-sparing cryosurgery

Doctors are more interested in the gentleman’s quality of life after surgery, including their sexual health. Some doctors are looking into nerve-sparing cryosurgery in order to decrease the damage to the nerve bundles.

In other words, the surgeons are narrowly targeting the cancerous area of the prostate while avoiding one or both of the nerve bundles that are related to erections. This type of surgery is called unilateral or bilateral nerve-sparing cryosurgery, that is along the same lines as nerve-sparing prostatectomy.

What does the research say?

One study said 1, immediately after surgery, all of the gentlemen who had cryosurgery lost the ability to get an erection firm enough for sex. Around 2 years after surgery, 39% had returned to their regular sex life, without the use of any sort of assistance (i.e. Viagara). These researchers did say the sexual recovery rate could be higher if the men used some sort of erection aid. Plus, it’s important to mention that none of the men in this study had surgery using nerve-sparing cryosurgery. Therefore, one could make the prediction that the recovery rate may be higher if that technique was used.

Before the surgery

To close this article, you should probably talk to your doctor about your surgical options. Some of the newer surgical methods are not available in all areas. Many of the newer methods are found in the larger hospitals, which unfortunately may not be close to you. Also, have an open conversation with your doctor about your quality of life after surgery. Depending on the location and severity of the cancer, you may be able to return to sexual activity after healing.

Since various treatment options and surgical techniques have an impact on the quality of life of the gentlemen who are fighting prostate cancer, I will continue to write articles about these options. With more information at your disposal, you’ll be able to make an informed choice regarding your own health care. Thank you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Austerling, S. & Greene, Damian. 2008. Prospective evaluation of sexual function in patients receiving cryosurgery as a prmary radical treatment for localized prostate cancer. BJUI, 788-792. Accessed 6/6/18
  2. Prostate Cancer Cryotherapy: Impotence Side Effects. Accessed 6/6/18.


  • jerrycole
    1 year ago

    I fear I may never get an erection again as it’s been so long. Can anybody relate and is there still hope.

  • ninaw moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi @jerrycole, you might find some people to reach out to here: I’d also recommend the articles by Nick Myers, here: I’m glad she is patient and understanding, and I hope she can work with you to find some possible ways to keep being intimate (more in the articles). It’s good you’re looking for information, and wishing you some improvement. – Nina, Team

  • jerrycole
    1 year ago

    I had cryosurgery 10 months ago and I’m praying for an erection. Quality of life is 0. No desire, no libido and my lady friend is patient and understanding. Testosterone is low. Viagara doesn’t work. Help!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    Excellent article Dr. Nick. Information is power and everyone in the community should be thankful for the promise of more to come. Best, Richard ( Team)

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