Sexual Health Q&A

When should a man consider a penile implant / prosthesis?

A penile implant, sometimes called a penile prosthesis, is a device that allows men with erectile dysfunction (ED) to achieve an erection suitable for intercourse. While prostheses generally have high satisfaction rates among men and their partners, getting a penile implant is a big decision.

Unlike other ED treatments, implants require surgery. The spongy tissue that normally fills with blood during an erection (the corpora cavernosum) is removed and replaced with two cylinders that can be inflated or deflated for an erection as needed. (Sometimes, malleable rods are used instead. Please click here to learn more about implant types.)

It’s important to know that penile implants are permanent. The procedure cannot be reversed.

Getting a penile implant is usually considered a last resort when treating ED. Men should try non-surgical therapies, such as oral medications, self-injections, and vacuum erection devices first.

Unfortunately, these treatments are not effective or appropriate for every man.
For example, men who take medications that contain nitrates cannot take pills for ED. Men may also be unable to perform self-injections.

The good news is that penile implants have high success rates overall. Many men find that sexual sensation, orgasm, and ejaculation occur just as they did before the implant.

Men who are considering an implant should discuss their decision with their urologist and their partner. While implants work well for most men, there are some disadvantages, such as the risk of infection or malfunction. In some cases, the penis is shorter after surgery, but this is not always noticeable. Knowing the pros and cons can help men have realistic expectations.