A penile implant or prosthetic is a device used to help patients achieve and sustain erection, in order to have more satisfying sexual relationship. For those who, for whatever reason, find that drug treatments are not for them, prosthetics represent a safe, effective option for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
There is sometimes a stigma associated with penile implants, due mainly to earlier models, which were less effective, prone to breakage and sometimes led to infection. They were seen as being intrusive and not very masculine. However, several years of clinical research and improvements have completely altered the situation for the better. Even so, there are still some cautions that need to be recognized.
There are two types of prosthetic currently available which are either malleable or inflatable. Some malleable prosthetics consist of a pair of semi-rigid rods that are implanted into the penis. Others have an outer shell that is concentric around an inner one made of metal or plastic. Some types have a permanent shape while others are slightly adjustable.
The slight problem with this particular type of implant is that they are always on meaning that the penis is rigid and erect all the time. In order to allow for non-sexual function, they are typically mid-way between a full erection and a flaccid or limp penis. Nevertheless, they are relatively easy to insert surgically.
The inflatable prosthetic is the more popular option for penile implants. They come in either two or three sections but both perform the same function by essentially the same means. A narrow tube is inserted into the penis that is attached to a pump and a reservoir containing fluid. The pump and release mechanism are commonly implanted into the scrotum so the whole assembly is invisible.
When the user wants to achieve erection, he or his partner squeezes the pump, inflating the device (hence the name). To release it, a simple pressure valve under the skin is depressed, or the penile shaft is bent, pushing fluid back into the chamber.
The device is effective and very safe. All are coated with an antibiotic compound and according to data from Cornell University's Department of Urology, the infection rate is only between two and three percent.
Patients report a high satisfaction level with penile implants. In a number of cases, ranging up to 15%, it is necessary to have a follow up procedure in order to make adjustments and repair components. Approximately 85% of men who received one still have their original implant ten years after surgery.
However, as with any treatment the possibility of side effects is always present. Apart from infection, sensitivity and pain are possible, especially shortly after the procedure and during initial use. Scar tissue can form, especially if the device has to be removed and/or re-inserted. The best option for those interested is to seek the counsel of a qualified physician. Discuss the available options, including their risks and benefits.