In order to attain an erection, messages from the brain and other sense organs trigger the arteries of the penis to dilate. This allows an increased amount of blood to flow into three columns of spongy tissue in the penis. As the arteries supplying blood to the corpus spongiosum and to the two larger columns, the corpus cavernosa, become filled with blood; the penis grows and becomes rigid. Pressure of the engorged tissue against the veins in the penis effectively traps blood within the penis until climax is reached or the sensation wanes. Impotence, or the inability to attain or maintain an erection, can be caused by a disruption at any stage in this process. Several types of penile implants are available that create an artificial erection. Two common types of implants are the semi-rigid malleable rod and the inflatable implant. The semirigid malleable rod is usually made of plastic with a core of flexible wire. These rods can be bent down to conceal the penis under clothing or raised to form an artificial erection. The inflatable implant is more complex and involves several working parts: a reservoir of fluid that is implanted into the abdomen, a pump system located in the scrotal sac near the testes, and two inflatable cylinders. In order to attain an erection, the scrotal pump must be squeezed repeatedly to propel fluid into the penile cylinders. When an erection is no longer desired, a release valve is pressed on the side of the pump and the cylinders deflate. Persons considering these types of implants should speak with their physician or healthcare professional about possible risks and complications.
Scientific and Medical Animations
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