When natural or medical treatments can’t treat erectile dysfunction, a penile prosthesis is an option you may want to consider.
A surgical penile implant (also called a penile prosthesis) is a treatment alternative for men with erectile dysfunction (ED). The simplest type of prosthesis consists of a pair of bendable, silicone rods surgically implanted inside the erection chambers of the penis. Today, most men choose a hydraulic, inflatable prosthesis that lets a man to have an erection whenever he chooses.
A penile implant is normally used when there is a clear medical cause for erectile dysfunction and when the problem is not likely to resolve or improve naturally or with another medical cure. Sometimes a penile prosthesis is implanted through a surgery to reconstruct the penis when scarring has caused erections to curve.
Surgical Penile Implants: Procedure Details
The inflatable penile implant involves two cylinders, a reservoir, and a pump that are placed surgically in the body. The two cylinders are inserted in the penis and linked by tubing to a separate reservoir of fluid. The reservoir is implanted beneath the lower abdominal muscles. A pump is also connected to the system and positions under the loose skin of the scrotal sac, between the testicles.
To inflate the prosthesis, the man presses the pump. This does not put any pressure on the testicles. The pump transfers fluid from the reservoir to the cylinders within the penis, inflating them. Pressing on a deflation valve at the bottom of the pump returns the fluid to the reservoir, deflating the penis.
When the penis is inflated, the prosthesis makes the penis stiff and thick, just as in natural erection. Many men rate the erection as shorter than their normal erection. However, newer models have cylinders that can increase the length in addition to the thickness and stiffness of the penis. Another difference is that the glans, or head of the penis, does not get engorged or hard with the inflation of the device.
A penile prosthesis won’t change sensation on the skin of the penis or a man's ability to reach orgasm. Ejaculation is not affected. Once a penile prosthesis is put in, however, it may damage the natural erection reflex. Men typically cannot get an erection without inflating the implant. If the implant is removed, the man might never again have natural erections.
About 90% to 95% of inflatable prosthesis surgeries are successful, which means the implants produce erections suitable for intercourse. Satisfaction rates with the prosthesis are very high, and typically 80% to 90% of men are satisfied with the outcome and say they would choose the surgery again.
No surgery is completely free of possible complications. Complications associated with penile implants include:
• Uncontrolled bleeding after the surgery; this condition may need an additional surgery
• Scar tissue formation
• Erosion (of implant)
• Pump or reservoir displacement
• Mechanical failure