Tips to Live By

5 Things to Know If You're Considering a Penile Implant

Feb. 17, 2020

No one likes to admit that they're having issues with their sexual health. But guys, erectile dysfunction (ED) is way more common than you probably think. And, treating it doesn't have to mean taking a pill every time you want to get in the mood. In fact, you may want to consider what many urologists consider the only true cure for ED: A penile implant.

"While many men have success with medications and other options for achieving an erection, others are looking for a more permanent solution to their ED," says Dr. Nathan Starke, urologist at Houston Methodist. "Penile implants are the closest thing we have to a cure for men who are having trouble achieving or sustaining an erection."

For some men, medications just don't work. Others don't like the idea of having to plan to get an erection. Penile implants circumvent both of these issues almost entirely.

"A penile implant offers an on-demand erection in just 15 seconds — whenever you want, for however long you want it," says Dr. Starke.

If you're experiencing ED and trying to figure out if a penile implant is right for you, don't suffer in silence. Here are Dr. Starke's answers to questions you may have about penile implants.

Is a penile implant worth it?

For people motivated to regain sexual function, penile implants are a very effective and reliable way to ensure you can have an erection when you want it.

"Studies have shown that the satisfaction rate of men with a penile implant, as well as their partners, is between 90 and 95%," says Dr. Starke. "The vast majority of men respond that they're likely to recommend the procedure to someone else and also have no regret over their decision to get a penile implant."

A penile implant does involve a short surgical procedure, so whether or not you're willing or able to undergo the procedure can be a determining factor in whether or not a penile implant is right for you. Dr. Starke says that penile implant surgery typically takes less than an hour and is often performed as an outpatient procedure.

Is penile implant surgery safe?

As with any implant surgery, the main concern is preventing infection — but the rate of infection is very low.

"The surgery is very safe and infection is incredibly rare, about 1%, largely due to the fact that we use special antibiotics and specific surgical techniques that greatly reduce the risk of post-operative infection," explains Dr. Starke.

Like all surgeries, penile implant surgery is made safer by going to a surgeon you trust.

"Surgeon experience is very important," notes Dr. Starke. "Make sure you choose a urologist who has extensive experience performing penile implants."

Is penile implant surgery painful?

After penile implant surgery, you can expect mild to moderate soreness for several days, but the symptoms should go away after a week or two.

"Since we're operating in a sensitive area, there is some soreness after the procedure," Dr. Starke explains. "We do several things to minimize your pain, though, such as draining any fluid that's built up, prescribing pain medication and using compressive surgical dressings."

The length of recovery can vary based on a variety of factors, and your doctor will let you know once you've recovered enough to resume sexual activity.

"In our practice, we typically activate the penile implant three weeks after the procedure, at which point it's ready for unrestricted use." says Dr. Starke.

What type of penile implant do I need?

There are two main types of penile implants: inflatable implants and malleable implants. Your doctor can help you determine which type of implant is right for you based on your lifestyle and unique needs.

"Regardless of which type of implant is chosen, the majority of men report great satisfaction with their penile implant," says Dr. Starke.

How long does a penile implant last?

In most men, penile implants last between 15 and 20 years.

"It's important to keep in mind that a penile implant is a mechanical device, and it can break," warns Dr. Starke. "However, this is uncommon and it can be corrected through another short surgical procedure."

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