Side-effects of muscle-invasive bladder cancer surgery

Older man touching his stomach

Possible side-effects of bladder surgery

General side-effects: With all surgeries there is a small risk of bleeding and infection. For example, infection in your wound, chest or urine. Your doctors and nurses will watch you closely to make sure these risks are reduced, or treated quickly if they happen. You can also help to prevent infection yourself by having good hygiene and doing deep breathing exercises. Read more about general side-effects of surgery.

Blood clots: There is a risk of blood clots in the lungs or legs. Doing the breathing and leg exercises your medical team advise can reduce this risk.

Urine leakage: There is a risk of urine leakage from the newly formed pouch in the first few days after surgery.

Bowel side-effects: There is a small risk that your bowel will become inactive and take a while to return to normal. This is known as paralytic ileus. It can happen after any surgery that involves handling of the bowel. There is also a very small risk of a bowel leak. This is because your bowel has been divided to take a part out and the two ends have been joined together.

Sexual problems: Surgery to remove your bladder can cause damage to the muscles and nerves in your pelvic floor. This means that you may experience physical problems when having sex. There are also emotional issues relating to a change in body image and loss of libido (sex drive).

Fertility: Surgery can affect your ability to have children. If this is important to you discuss it with your doctor before surgery. Read more about fertility.

 

Women

Shortening of the vagina

Women may have shorter vaginas, which can make vaginal penetration more difficult. Woman may also notice changes in sensation.

 

Men

Erectile dysfunction

Many will have difficulty getting or keeping an erection after cystectomy. This is called erectile dysfunction or impotence. There are medications and other treatments that can help with erectile dysfunction. For example, tablets, injections, vacuum pumps or implants to help you get an erection. 

Sex after urostomy

Having a urostomy can affect how you feel about your body. You may also be afraid that the urostomy bag will become dislodged or cause damage to the stoma. Empty the bag before sexual intimacy and roll it up or tape it down so it will not get in the way, if you wish. If you need more advice talk to your doctor, specialist nurse or stoma nurse, they are all experienced in dealing with these issues.

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