Some men trying to solve their problems of erectile dysfunction can be offered penile implants that inflate their penis at just the push of a button. But researchers have been developing a new type of implant made from a metal alloy that will work without touch. Being dubbed the “bionic” penis, the implant is still in trials, and probably won’t be available for another few years.
As it turns out, around a third of men don’t actually respond to drugs such as Viagra, meaning that in order to treat their erectile dysfunction, researchers have had to come up with more technical solutions, such as penile implants. Doctors have been doing these procedures for a long time, but they usually involve some sort of hydraulic system, which pumps fluid into a couple of tubes inside the member.
This latest hands-free version is, however, relatively new technology. It works using a nonhydraulic shape-memory alloy, known as nitinol, made from titanium and nickel. Commonly used in medical devices, the alloy can be molded into shape, but upon the application of heat will return to its ‘undeformed’ structure. It is this property that researchers have been able to harness.
The alloy is implanted into the penis along with a heating coil at its base. The coil is activated when the patient holds a remote control over their groin that generates a magnetic field that in turn triggers a small current in the coil. This subsequently heats the alloy to the magic temperature to 42°C (75.6°F) making it revert to its original shape, giving a man an erection in as little as two minutes. After the deed is done, and fun for everyone is hopefully had, a cool flannel draped over the extension is enough to reduce the swelling.
This means that while it has advantages over the traditional hydraulic version, as it has fewer parts meaning less can go wrong, it might only really be suitable for those living in colder climes, where the temperature doesn’t usually reach the stimulating figure.
While thousands of men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are unable to use drugs, it is unlikely that many of them will be offered the heat-activated-boner. Still in development, the new implant is unlikely to be available for a few years yet, but could help those who have had to have penile reconstruction or other genital issues regain even a modicum of normality.