Penile Implants and Their Role in Addressing Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a failure to achieve and maintain an erection. It is a highly common condition impacting more than 30 million men in the United States. Causes for ED vary from physical or psychological factors to a combination of both. They include hormonal imbalance, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and many more.

The psychological impact of erectile dysfunction is tremendous. When faced with ED, many men become depressed. They feel insecure, emasculated, and isolated. The stigma associated with the inability to achieve an erection often keeps men from seeking medical assistance.

Thankfully, many ways to address this condition exist, varying from lifestyle changes to surgery.

Common Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction

The most common options for treating ED are:

  • Phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) in the oral form
  • Testosterone therapy may be recommended when blood tests demonstrate low testosterone levels
  • Penile injections or intraurethral medications that improve blood flow to the penis
  • Vacuum erection devices (also called vacuum pumps or penis pumps)

If these methods don’t resolve the issue, your doctor may recommend a surgical approach, otherwise known as implementing a penial implant, or penile prosthesis.

What is a Penile Implant?

A penile implant, or prosthesis, is a surgically inserted device that allows a man to achieve an erection. There are two main types:

Inflatable Implants

Inflatable implants, the most common type of penile prostheses, require the surgical implementation of cylinders inside the penis and a fluid reservoir filled with salt water. Depending on the type of inflatable implant, the reservoir is located either in the abdominal wall (3-piece penile implant) or the scrotum (2-piece penile implant).

To achieve an erection, you can pump fluid from the reservoir into the cylinders inside the penis. Then you can drain the salt water back into the reservoir.

Semirigid Rod Implants

Semirigid rod implants are made of two bendable tubes made of silicone materials or coiled wires. Once they are placed inside the penis, you can bend it in the desired position and achieve an erection.

Assessing the Benefits and Risks of Penile Implants

Similar to other ED treatments, a penile prosthesis has several advantages and disadvantages.


  • Restores erectile function when other methods fail
  • Improves sexual satisfaction
  • Provides a long-term solution for erectile dysfunction
  • Improves self-confidence


  • Surgical procedure required
  • Risk of infection
  • Potential for mechanical failures

Besides infection, such procedures could cause excessive bleeding, scarring, and post-surgical pain and discomfort.

The Surgical Procedure

Penile implant surgery can be done with local or general anesthesia. Once the surgeon administers the anesthesia, they make an incision in the lower abdomen, above the penis base, or the scrotum. The location of the incision depends on the type of implant you are getting.

The doctor will spread the tissue to make space for the implant and insert all of the pieces of the device into the penis. If you are getting an inflatable implant, the surgeon will place a fluid reservoir in the abdomen or the scrotum.

Once the prosthesis is in place, the surgeon will close the incisions using sutures or surgical staples. They may also apply dressings or bandages to aid in the healing process.

The recovery period following the surgery is fairly short. While many patients resume normal activities after one to two weeks, it’s not uncommon to expect to wait six weeks post-surgery to resume sexual activity. Your surgeon will be able to make a formal recommendation.

Make an Informed Decision: Consult the Experts

While a penile prosthesis may be an excellent solution for people who struggle with ED, it may not be the best solution for you. Deciding whether a penile implant can be beneficial for resolving your erectile dysfunction will require a consultation with a professional urologist. Together, you will consider factors like health status, age, personal preferences, and risk tolerance.

At the Incontinence Institute in Middle Tennessee, we have a network of experienced urologists who have helped many patients tackle ED. If you’re interested in learning more, consider visiting our resource on erectile dysfunction.  If you’re ready to take the first step toward resolution, contact our discreet medical concierge to discuss your case and the effective treatment options our team of urologists can provide.

About The Incontinence Institute

At the Incontinence Institute, our team of healthcare providers understand the physical and mental trials that accompany living with urinary or bowel incontinence. Because of this, we are sensitive to your situation and treat all of our patients with the utmost respect and concern for discretion.

Individual incontinence conditions, treatment and recovery times may vary. Each patient's experience with incontinence procedures and / or surgery will differ. All surgical procedures involve some level of risk. If directed to pursue surgery by your physician, prompt action is advised, as waiting may reduce the efficacy of surgical treatment. The opinions expressed in patient testimonials are by patients only; they are not qualified medical professionals. These opinions should not be relied upon as, or in place of, the medical advice of a licensed doctor, etc.

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Incontinence Institute 2009 Mallory Lane, Suite 100 Franklin, Tennessee 37067