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Penile Implants: Surgery, Effectiveness, and Impact on Sex

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Aug 21, 2019 | Last Updated: Aug 21, 2019

Find out how penile implants work, and their effectiveness in treating erectile dysfunction (erection problems).
Penile Implants
Penile Implants offer real hope to men with ED. Shutterstock Images

Penile implant surgery is a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). It consists of devices that are either malleable or inflatable. The simple ones include a pair of bendable rods surgically placed within the erection chambers of the penis. This way, the penis remains in a semi-rigid state and merely needs to be adjusted or lifted into the erect position to have sexual intercourse.

Today, a majority of men go for the inflatable implant that lets them have an erection whenever they feel like it. This not only gives them a sense of control but is also more natural and easier to conceal.

Note that penile implant (penile prosthesis) is often used when there’s a distinct medical cause for the erectile dysfunction and the issue isn’t likely to improve or resolve naturally or with alternative treatments. In other cases, the implant is placed during surgery to address Peyronie’s disease. Penile implant surgery takes about one hour and doesn’t need admission. Men report resuming sex six weeks following surgery.  

Who is the right candidate?

Not every man is the right candidate for penile implants. To be suitable for the procedure, one has to;

  • Have persistent ED that affects their sex life
  • Have tried a penis pump
  • Have a condition like Peyronie’s disease that’s not likely to improve with alternative treatments
  • Have already tried medications like avanafil (Stendra), vardenafil (Levitra), tadalafil (Cialis), and sildenafil (Viagra) – which leads to erection enough for sex in as many as 70% of men

Who is not an ideal candidate?

One may not be suitable for the procedure if;

  • Their ED is reversible
  • The ED is as a result of emotional problems
  • They have lesions, inflammations or other issues with the scrotum or penis skin
  • They have urinary tract infection
  • They lack sexual sensation or desire

Types of penile implants surgery

The physician will conduct a thorough physical test and look into the patient’s medical history. Before recommending implants, he or she will consider all other alternative treatments first. Patients need to inform their doctors about their concerns and expectations too. Patients will have to choose one of the three types of implants and ask about the pros and cons of each.

A three-piece implant involves the placing of two cylinders in the penis, connected by tubing to a separate fluid reservoir. The reservoir is installed beneath the lower abdominal muscles. A pump is also attached to the system and is placed beneath the loose skin of the scrotum,

The two-piece implant is similar to the three-piece; only that the reservoir is part of the pump that’s implanted in the scrotum. Its erections aren’t as firm as in the three-piece, but it’s less complicated and less expensive.

A semi-rigid implant involves the use of semi-rigid rods that are not bendable. Once placed, the devices remain firm all through so one can bend the penis away from, or position it against their body to have sex.

How penile prosthesis works

To inflate the implant in the inflatable prosthesis, one has to press on the pump – this doesn’t insert any pressure on the testicles. This action moves fluid from the reservoir to cylinders located in the penis, causing them to inflate. Again, one has to press the deflation valve below the pump to return the fluid to the reservoir.

How sex feels like with the prosthesis

The penile implant makes the penis thick and stiff during inflation, just as it would in a natural erection. Many men report the erection to be shorter than the normal one, but the latest implant models may enhance the thickness, length, and stiffness of the penis. The implant doesn’t change the man’s ability to get an orgasm or the sensation on the penis skin. It doesn’t affect ejaculation either.

Many men also worry about whether or not the implant will be noticeable. Although a man can notice the small surgical scar between the scrotal sac and penis or in the lower abdomen, others won’t be able to realize that the man has it. So, a man won’t be embarrassed in a public restroom or locker room.

Effectiveness of the prosthesis

Up to 95% of inflatable implants give rise to erections adequate for sex. Again, up to 90% of men say they are satisfied with the implants and that they would choose to undergo surgery again.

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