Sexual Health Q&A

Can the pump of a penile implant get “stuck”?

Most penile implants used today are activated by a special pump surgically placed in a man’s scrotum. When a man would like an erection, he can activate the pump, which causes inflatable cylinders in the penis to fill with fluid. When he no longer wishes to have an erection, the pump can be deactivated.

It is uncommon for a penile implant pump to become stuck, but it can happen. In October 2014, the medical journal Urology published a study involving 550 men who had had the same type of pump implanted, the Coloplast Titan Inflatable Penile Prosthesis One–Touch Release pump.

Almost 8% of the patients had their pump get “stuck” in the deflate position. Their penis was not erect and they could not start an erection by using the pump. They also said that the pump bulb felt “hard.”

The problem was caused by an inflate/deflate valve disc that had become stuck in the deflate position. However, the disc was able to move again when firmer pressure was applied. (Some of the men needed to see their urologist for this issue. Others were able to fix the problem on their own. None of the men required surgery.)

Men who have trouble activating penile implants should see their urologist. While using firmer pressure helped with the Coloplast pump, other pump brands may have different mechanisms.

Men are also encouraged to ask their urologist any questions they have about penile implants.