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What are penile implants and how do they work?


A penile implant is used to restore erections in men who have tried other therapies for achieving an erection, such as pills or injections, but for whatever reason, those therapies have not been suitable or have not worked. Penile implants require surgery.

The most common type of penile implant is the inflatable penile implant. Its components include two cylinders that are surgically implanted inside the penis, a reservoir or balloon containing saline solution that is placed behind the pelvic bone where it cannot be felt, and a pump that sits within the scrotum underneath the skin.

When your penis is flaccid, all of the fluid is held in the reservoir. To use the implant to get an erection, your or your partner will press on the pump several times. This will divert fluid from the reservoir through the pump and into the cylinders that are within the erection chambers of the penis. These cylinders are tailored to exactly fit the size of your penis. Depending on the size of the implant, it will vary as to how many pumps are needed to inflate the device. But in general, it takes around 15 to 20 pumps in order to achieve a strong erection, which means in under 30 seconds a man can go from a flaccid penis to an erect penis.

The penis remains erect for as long as you desire. To deflate the device, you push on the deflate valve on the pump, give the penis a small squeeze and all the fluid is returned to the reservoir.

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A/Prof Darren Katz
A/Prof Darren Katz

A/Prof Darren Katz is a urological surgeon, a male fertility microsurgeon, and the founder and medical director of multi-disciplinary clinic, Men’s Health Melbourne. A/Prof Katz is the current Leader of the Andrology Special Advisory Group for the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand. He has been awarded the title of Clinical Associate Professor from the prestigious Melbourne University Department of Surgery.

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