Coping after prostate cancer surgery

Some helpful tips

Coping after surgery for prostate cancer, such as radical prostatectomy, may be a little easier with some planning and preparation ahead of time. 

Always discuss these tips with a qualified medical professional to be sure they are appropriate for
your specific situation.


Before his discharge

  • Ask the nurse in the hospital if you can get a small urine collection bag, which straps to the leg and is more discreet for public outings, as well as a large one that can be worn around the house.  It will cut down how often you have to empty the bag. 
  • Consider limiting visitors the first few days after surgery for prostate cancer so your loved one gets plenty of rest.
  • Your man may sleep a lot the first few days, which will give you time to catch up on housework or rest yourself.  Take advantage of it! 
  • If you have pets at home, you might want to lock them out of the bedroom at night.  Or make sure your guy protects his stomach while sleeping with a pillow. The last thing he needs is a cat or dog jumping up on his sore belly.

Coping with the catheter

  • Emptying the urine collection bag should not be difficult, but it does require concentration.  This can be made easier with some teamwork.  A nurse or hospital educator should demonstrate what to do before your loved one is discharged from the hospital.
  • To help avoid accidents, empty the urine collection bag before it is close to full.
  • When you are emptying the urine collection bag, try to avoid lifting the catheter tubing up too high. It creates a “peculiar” sensation that may not be appreciated by your man!
  • Ask your doctor about using Neosporin (or another antibiotic ointment) around the area of the catheter tubing, which is inserted into the penis during surgery.  This will help prevent chafing and infection.


His first shower

  • Your man will probably need your support getting in and out of the shower for at least the first few days, if your shower is inside a bathtub.
  • During a shower, you can place the urine collection bag in a clean plastic tub (like a mop pail) and set it on the floor outside the shower.  This will help prevent spilling accidents and keep the bag clean.
  • At night, you can also place the urine collection bag inside a clean plastic bucket next to the bed. If your loved one needs to remain in bed, you can also use a second bucket for emptying the bag. Once emptied, place the bag back in the first bucket.
  • If your loved one drops the soap in the shower, you may need to pick it up for him as he probably won’t be able to bend down right after surgery for prostate cancer.  So you may want to stay near the bathroom while he’s showering.

His first walk

  • When your man is ready to take his first walk outside, consider turning around well before the point he feels tired. Or be prepared to get your car to drive him back if he gets too exhausted.  Try to encourage him to take things slowly. 
  • During his first walk, you can hide the large urine collection bag in a big shopping bag (so you don't have to deal with attaching the smaller urine collection bag). This will avoid having to empty the smaller bag on the street should your walk take longer than expected.

Updated 4/15

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