What is a Penile Implant, and How Does It Work?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the consistent inability to obtain or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity. It is estimated that one in five men – or approximately 30 million American men – have experienced problems with ED. Treatments for ED are varied, and include oral medicines like Viagra, penile injections, external pump devices, and even an implantable penile prosthesis surgery.

What is a Penile Implant?

A penile prosthesis is another treatment option for men, used when there is a clear medical cause for ED, or when the problem is unlikely to resolve or improve naturally or with other medical treatments. These devices are either malleable or inflatable. The simplest type of prosthesis consists of a pair of malleable (bendable) rods surgically implanted within the erection chambers of the penis. With this type of implant the penis is always semi-rigid and merely needs to be lifted or adjusted into the erect position to initiate sex. Today, many men choose a hydraulic, inflatable prosthesis, which allows a man to have an erection whenever he chooses, and is much easier to conceal and more natural.

The inflatable penile prosthesis has two parts, a reservoir and a pump, surgically placed in the body. The two cylinders are inserted in the penis and connected by tubing to a separate reservoir of fluid. The reservoir is implanted under the groin muscles, and to a pump system that sits under the loose skin of the scrotal sac, between the testicles. To inflate the prosthesis, the man presses on the pump. The pump transfers fluid from the reservoir to the cylinders in the penis, inflating them. Pressing on a deflation valve at the base of the pump returns the fluid to the reservoir, deflating the penis.

How Effective Are the Implants?

About 90-95 percent of penile implants produce erections suitable for intercourse. Satisfaction rates with the prosthesis are very high, and typically 80-90 percent of men are satisfied with the results and say they would choose the surgery again.

If you have any questions or concerns about erectile dysfunction and the benefits of penile implants, call Charlotte Men’s Health at (704) 786-5131 to request an appointment with Dr. Richard Natale.

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