Here’s what you need to know about sperm, semen, and fertility following prostate surgery.
Yes, you can still produce sperm after prostate surgery.
Sperm are the microscopic reproductive cells (aka gametes) created in the testicles that can fertilize an egg and create an embryo.
Sperm develop in the testicles — not the prostate.
Semen production, however, may be altered. Semen is a fluid substance that contains sperm and is ejaculated.
A radical prostatectomy involves removing the entire prostate gland, as well as some of the surrounding tissues.
“Usually, the tubes that carry the sperm from the testicle to the prostate, which are called the vas deferens, are partially removed,” says Mohit Khera, MD, a urologist specializing in sexual dysfunction and infertility.
There are a few types of radical prostatectomy surgeries, including:
- radical retropubic prostatectomy
- radical perineal prostatectomy
- laparoscopic radical prostatectomy
- robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy
Although these surgeries differ in execution, the result is the same.
“After a radical prostatectomy, you can still produce sperm, but the sperm is unable to leave the body,” he says.
The prostate is a gland located between the bladder and the penis. It’s about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Its main purpose is to produce seminal fluid, which is the fluid that transports sperm out of the penis through the urethra, explains Khera.
The prostate doesn’t produce sperm — the testicles do. So, prostate surgery won’t impact sperm production.
However, prostate surgery may impact an individual’s ability to produce seminal fluid or alter the amount of seminal fluid they produce.
Prostate surgeries aren’t the only treatment available for prostate conditions.
If an individual has prostate cancer, for example, they might receive radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy, to name just a few.
The exact treatment someone receives will depend on the stage and grade of their cancer, age, treatment efficacy rate, and how they feel about the potential side effects.
Chemotherapy for prostate cancer
Prostate radiation therapy typically doesn’t impact the sperm itself, but it may impair the quality of the semen that the prostate can produce.
Prostate cancer isn’t the only time an individual might receive treatment. A person may also need treatment if they have an inflamed prostate (prostatitis) or an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
Prostatitis is usually treated with antibiotics that don’t impact sperm or semen. But if left untreated, prostatitis can impair the prostate gland’s ability to produce semen.
Chronic prostatitis can also negatively impact sperm vitality, concentration, amount, and motility.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can be treated with medication or other, more invasive surgeries. Most medications used impact sperm or semen volume or quality.
Some surgeries used to treat BPH can also impact sperm or semen. This includes:
- prostatic urethral lift
- transurethral resection of the prostate
- photovaporization of the prostate
- open prostatectomy
If someone is considering having biological children later in life and planning on having prostate surgery, “they should make sure to bank their sperm before surgery so that they can potentially use the sperm for in vitro fertilization in the future,” says Khera.
Of course, it should be noted that there are several ways for families to grow that don’t involve using your own sperm.
These options include, but are not limited to:
- using a sperm donor
Can you still get erections after prostate surgery?
Can you still ejaculate after prostate surgery?
“Someone won’t be able to ejaculate after radical prostatectomy, but they will still be able to have an orgasm,” says Khera. This is usually known as a ”dry orgasm.”
How soon after prostate surgery can you masturbate or have penetrative sex?
The usual recommendation is 3 to 4 weeks.
Your doctor can give you more personalized advice, so be sure to ask how long you should wait to have solo or partnered sex after your surgery.
Is erectile dysfunction common after prostate surgery?
Yes, it is very common to experience erectile dysfunction for the first few months after prostate surgery.
Many people will regain erectile and sexual function
However, for those who don’t, there are several treatment options available. These include:
- pelvic floor therapy
- erectile dysfunction medication
- testosterone supplement therapy
- penis pumps, sleeves, or implants
Is it possible to impregnate a sexual partner after prostate surgery?
Prostate surgery does not qualify as a type of birth control.
So, unless your doctor tells you that your surgery results in infertility, you have to assume that the possibility of impregnating a sexual partner with ovaries and a uterus remains.
Prostate surgery doesn’t impact sperm, which is the reproductive cell that can fertilize an egg and result in pregnancy. What may be impacted is the amount of seminal fluid produced, which is what transports the sperm to the egg.
Can you develop other prostate conditions after prostate surgery?
It depends on the type of prostate surgery you undergo.
If your prostate was completely removed, it isn’t possible to develop other prostate conditions. If part of your prostate remains, it’s possible.
Sperm production isn’t impacted by prostate surgery, but the ability for those sperm to leave the body and travel to an egg may be.
To learn more, talk with a healthcare professional about any prostate surgery you have had or are considering.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.