While erectile dysfunction increases, use of penile implants declines

This 3-piece inflatable implant can help men with ED achieve an erection after surgical installation. When the smaller bulb is squeezed, saline solution is pumped from the larger reservoir into the two columns on the left, causing them to inflate.

Story highlights

  • Erectile dysfunction is the inability to maintain an erection firm enough for intercourse
  • An analysis of 1,763,260 men with ED revealed prostheses declined from 4.6% to 2.3% over a decade
  • Experts say a penile prosthesis is the only ED treatment that works for almost every man

(CNN)Viagra is known for its advertising, but the erectile dysfunction treatment you don't see commercials for are penile prostheses, also known as penile implants.

For men with erectile dysfunction, penile prostheses -- surgically inserted devices that help achieve an erection -- can be life-changing when other treatment don't do the trick.
Simply put, a penile implant is a device that that allows a man to have an erection "on demand," when he has trouble doing so naturally. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.
    But these implants are waning in popularity, according to new research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
    The decline of implant use concerns some doctors, who say penile implants have the highest rate of patient satisfaction among all ED treatments.
    "It's like starting a car; you just turn it on when you're ready," said Dr. Darius Paduch, study author and director of Sexual Health and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "The guys love it."
    Researchers found that the number of men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction increased 165% over the 10-year study period, while the use of penile implants declined, with 4.6% of men with ED getting a penile implant in 2002 and 2.3% of men opting for an implant in 2010. The study's finding that penile implants are on the downturn resulted from an analysis of 1,763,260 men using Medicare public use files from 2001 to 2010.
    "When medications like Viagra and Cialis don't work, we then present all the remaining options to the patient as a 'second line,' including penile implants and injections," said Dr. Drogo Montague, director of the Center for Genitourinary Reconstruction in the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, and professor of surgery