How does a penile implant work?

The inflatable penile implant consists of two cylinders, a reservoir, and a pump that are placed surgically 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 lower abdominal muscles. A pump is also connected to the system and sits under the loose skin of the scrotal sac, between the testicles.

To inflate the prosthesis, the man presses on the pump. This does not put any pressure on the testicles. 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.

What is sex like with a penile implant?

When the penis is inflated, the prosthesis makes the penis stiff and thick, similar to a natural erection. Most men rate the erection as shorter than their normal erection. However, newer models have cylinders that may 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 become engorged or hard with the inflation of the device.

A penile prosthesis does not 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 destroy the natural erection reflex. Men usually cannot get an erection without inflating the implant. If the implant is removed, the man may never again have natural erections.

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