Listen to How a Penile Implant Helped My Sex Life: A Patient’s Story through the podcast player above.
Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
Joining us for today’s episode is Paul. Paul was facing severe sexual dysfunction after an injury at work. Today we explore his journey with achieving a satisfactory solution for both him and his wife after a successful penile implant surgery. A penile implant is also know as an Inflatable Penile Prosthesis (IPP). Paul delivers a powerful and honest message to men facing erectile dysfunction while offering hope to both men and their partners.
Today’s episode has been supported by Boston Scientific. To learn more, please visit EDCure.org.
The Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is dedicated to educating and empowering men to address erectile dysfunction, improve confidence, and enhance the satisfaction in their relationships. This podcast is hosted by certified sex therapist, Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST.
Transcript of Episode 43 – Sex Therapy and Erectile Dysfunction
Mark Goldberg: Today we are joined by Paul Stallings. Paul has been brave and vulnerable in sharing about his personal journey with erectile dysfunction after an injury and his process of finding a satisfactory solution.
Today, we want to hear a patient’s perspective on the inflatable penile prosthesis, also referred to as an IPP or an implant. So Paul, can you share your story with us?
Paul: Yeah. I had an accident at work. I do construction and I fell about seven feet and straddled the hand rail of some scaffolding, and when I did, I tore my urethra out and damaged all the blood vessels in my penis.
We went through several different types of treatment from trying the pill and injection shots, the pumps, and I had just had too much vascular damage to be able to hold an erection. We sat down with a doctor and I was just exploring different options and how everything worked.
He had mentioned the penile implant and at first it was kind of like, “whoa. that’s big.” And it kind of sounded scary, I Googled it and Google did not help at all.
So we sat down, him and me and my wife and we discussed things. He showed me how the device worked, he explained everything to me, and at that time, me and my wife discussed it and we were like, “that’s the route that we’re going to have to go then that’s what we’re going to do. Everything seems okay with it.
We had several questions that we talked about. Is it something that you’re going to be able to notice if you didn’t know it was there? Or is it going to interrupt the mood or anything like that, is it going to limit things you can do with your partner?
I was assured pretty much that it wasn’t going to throw any kind of hindrance in. We sat down and made the decision together because it was just as much going to affect her as it would affect me.
And we decided to go ahead and move forward with the implant, and that was probably the best decision that literally has not changed anything in our sexual life, nothing at all, it’s actually exactly how it was before. A lot of the nightmare things that you read and you see, it’s just not true. You can’t tell it’s there, unless you know it’s there. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t feel any different.
Mark: Paul, it sounds like this has been a very successful treatment for you. Okay, so I’m going to ask you to kind of walk myself and the listeners through this step-by-step. Around how long was it from the time after the injury that you were ready to address the impact on erections until you reached that point of being ready for an implant?
I know you mentioned there were a couple other attempts at other treatments… what was that timeline?
Paul: It was roughly about a year from the time of the accident to the time we actually moved forward with the surgery.
Mark: Can you share with the listeners what the procedure was like. I assume that you were under general anesthesia, so the play-by-play you wouldn’t be able to give us, but at least what the lead up to the procedure was like, and perhaps the recovery as well?
Paul: The lead up, we went in and they pretty much injected with dye to get an image of the vascular damage and everything that was done. And see about how they were going to navigate the surgery, just like any other surgery would go.
And the procedure took… I think it was like two or three hours. Afterwards there really was not any pain. I was given pain medicine to take just in case, but I literally just took Tylenol, it wasn’t a painful procedure.
It was about two weeks after the surgery, I went back in because when they do the surgery they actually leave the implant pumped just so scar tissue or anything like that doesn’t hinder the device itself. And went back in two weeks for a check-up, everything looked good, so then was able to deflate it and actually was able to have oral sex after two weeks without the stitches.
And then I think about two weeks later I was able to go back to full work, so it was not a lot of down time. It was not a lot of pain, and not a lot of recovery from it at all.
Mark: So it sounds like your procedure went pretty well and you were back on your feet, so to speak, within a couple of weeks time and able to engage in sexual activity. What I’m gathering is full penetration within four weeks. Is that correct?
Mark: Now, did you have any reservations going into this process? Any things that were going through your mind? Any worries? Anything of that nature?
Paul: The biggest thing that I was worried about was how it was going to affect our marriage, as far as, was it going to be different for her, was it going to feel the same, was I still going to be able to please her the way I was like I was before.
And that’s when we sat down together as a couple and asked the questions. And he assured us that there was going to be no difference and he was like, actually, if anything, it’ll probably improve it because you can leave it pumped as long as you want versus before when you get off and then you’re kind of done. It doesn’t have to end like that.
After sitting down and discussing it we were given a pamphlet and a DVD to take home with other couples that had had the same experiences, the fears and the questions of, “will it affect my marriage? will it affect my sexual life?”
And sitting down and listening to other couples that’s been through it, talk about it, it kind of helped clear the air and clear the fear out and everything to where it was like, “Okay, I think we can do this.”
Mark: And it sounds like by the time you got to the procedure you were confident this would be a benefit to both you, your wife and your relationship. Is that correct?
Mark: Many men associate penis and erections with their sense of masculinity, there’s a lot of pride, albeit often misplaced, that’s associated with the phenomenon of an erection. Did you have concerns about the impact of an implant on your sense of masculinity?
Paul: In the beginning, I did, because I felt like if I couldn’t get it up on my own, then I wasn’t going to be the man that I’m supposed to be, but in that instance, it’s, “well, do you want to go and not be able to have an erection at all, or do you want to be able to perform like you’re meant to perform.?”
And it was one of those kind of self-evaluation, which is bigger, which means more? And after sitting down and thinking about it, if I have to have a pump to get an implant to get it to work, that’s better than not being able to get it to work at all, and not being able to perform and fulfill my duties as a husband in my marriage.
So it was a little bit of how to do some self-evaluating and put that stereotype down of that’s what makes you a man, because that’s not really what makes you a man, that’s where we’ve got it built in our head, and after you’re being faced with it, it opens your eyes up a little bit, and that’s not the case at all.
Mark: Paul, what I’m gathering from you is that your definition of masculinity has shifted to something far more realistic and away from the stereotypes that for better or worse, we’re all exposed to and we all internalize, and you’re saying you did that work to help redefine masculinity in a much more broad, but much more real type of way?
Paul: Yes. When I had my implant, I’m actually, this week I turned 36. So when I had the implant put in, I was 33. So being young, it was really built in my head that way, and it was just something you had to sit down and really ask is that really what defines that and it’s not at all, so that’s not what makes you a man.
Mark: I could not have said it better. It’s a misnomer that impacts men, whether they’re going through ED or not, and if they are, even if they’re not going to be be having an implant, the masculinity construct that men hold on to is oftentimes, is very not helpful and often times misguided and misplaced.
Now, Paul, generally, sexual desire is a key component in a natural erection, an implant can circumvent some of that. Do you find that the level of desire impacts your experience? And if so, how does that work?
Paul: Honestly, it doesn’t. The implant has not affected that at all. I still have the same desires as I did before. I was worried that it would kind of offset the mood to be able to just go and do it, but the implant itself is so easy to work to where you don’t really lose that passion or that lead-up.
It’s not changed the desire at all, if anything, it’s actually enhanced it, because now I’m like, “we can go any time at all, like it doesn’t matter.” And it’s actually probably enhanced the desire more.
Mark: In other words, the implant and it’s obviously very reliable, has created an atmosphere I’m gathering that there’s actually less pressure and more reliability with erections leading to increased desire.
I think you’ve also mentioned that you can keep the erection inflated for as long as your partner may prefer, even if you’ve reached orgasm yourself.
I imagine can also enhance that experience. Many men worry about having to make accommodations to facilitate better erections, and this is something that I see across the board, and those accommodations could be an implant, it can also be medications, it can even be a sex position.
Did this concern you in the beginning of using an implant, or did it seem to have no impact at all from the get-go?
Paul: It didn’t. In my head I had it that when it came time to do that, I was going to be kind of like the old Air Jordans. Like hold on stop I have to pump. And that is not how it is at all. It’s a really simple device to where you can still be doing foreplay and almost simulate where it’s almost a natural erection as far as she’s concerned.
Mark: In other words, you’re saying the process of inflating the implant really can be done in a very natural smooth kind of way, and I would assume that you’ve gotten better with that over time, but it sounds like it’s pretty easy use, it doesn’t require a tremendous amount of external pumping, I think you described with the old Air Jordans and the pump. And it’s not like that at all.
Paul: No, literally one hand is all it takes, and it’s just two fingers, it’s not hard to inflate, it’s not like you have to reach down and grab. Literally you can just use your thumb and your index finger and reach down and pump it up.
Mark: Paul, can you share with us how your wife has responded to some of these changes? It sounds like the two of you came to this decision together and it has generally had a pretty positive impact. Can you share with us if there were any concerns on her part that she expressed and/or any fears that you had about her experience?
Paul: Her first concern was just like it was one of mine was is this going to eliminate the intimacy lead up? And after we got it at first she was nervous, is this going to hurt me? Or anything?
And then the more… like I said, we’re in this together, so the more we played around with it and started to experiment, it didn’t change anything at all, it actually enhanced things.
Like I was saying, you don’t have to deflate it until you were ready to deflate it or she’s ready to deflated it and it can literally be done at any moment, so you still can have the flings, the spur of the moment intimacy. She had thought in the beginning, “will it hurt?, is it going be different? Is it going to affect positions?”
And all that, and just as me and her just kind of grew with it, we figured out that it’s not… it doesn’t change anything at all.
Mark: To that end, many men experience performance anxiety, it’s a very well-known concept and a very common feature that men and people in general experience in sexual situations.
Now, I understand that the implant is very reliable, I don’t know what your baseline performance anxiety was prior to the injury and prior to the implant. What I’m wondering is, did that end up eliminating or decreasing performance anxiety that may have existed before you had this procedure?
Paul: Yes. When we were experimenting with other stuff, taking the pill was one of those when I took it, “Is this going to work? If it does work, how long is it going to work?”
Just like with the pump, and one of the biggest disappointments was when we did the injections, it actually worked for just a little bit, so we got excited and started going, and then it kind of lost pressure just due to all of the vascular damage.
So that kind of hit me. Well, when I am able to get one, how long is thing going to last? It’s like a ticking time bomb. Is this thing going to last long enough?
It did kind of affect me a lot. But then after receiving the implant and having it three years, there’s no anxiety at all. I know that when I’m ready or when she’s ready, it’s going to work every time.
We never had an issue with it at all since we’ve had it, so since then, since getting the implant, all that initial fear from the beginning with trying the other stuff has been completely eliminated.
Mark: It sounds like you have a renewed sense of confidence that may be above and beyond a level of confidence that you’ve experienced in the past.
Because like you were saying earlier, knowing that you can continue to engage in the types of sex that you and your partner want to be having, even if you have achieved orgasm, which almost always will lead to a loss of erection naturally, you’re able to keep going and ensure that your partner has more of the experience that she’s looking for.
Mark: I gather that you are a fan of the implant that it has had a very positive impact on your life. Can you tell us though, what is the biggest drawback that you’ve experienced in having an implant?
Paul: I don’t think I’ve had any drawbacks. I haven’t had any issues with it affecting me from work or any extra-curricular activities that I’ve done prior to it. I still am active and play men’s softball, I still play basketball, I still go to the gym and work out, jog, run.
I really don’t have any issues with it at all and I haven’t since I’ve had it. I’ve yet to find anything that it stops me from doing or hinders me from doing. I’m still able to get on the floor and wrestle my kids like I did before, and I’m still able to do everything I did before. So it hasn’t put any kind of hindrance in my life at all.
Mark: So Paul, to wrap up, what advice would you give to a man who is a candidate for an implant but is hesitant about making this decision?
Paul: It’s just to sit down and just do a self-evaluation. What’s the fear that’s holding you back? Is it the pride issue? Is it, well, “I don’t know how this is going to work?”
And then sit down with your doctor and ask those questions, that’s what they’re there for, they’re there to help you understand and eliminate those fears that you have. And that’s one thing I have to say, the doctor, every question that I asked, every fear that I had, he was able to shed light onto it and point me in the direction for more information on where it’s not just him talking, but for me to read for myself from other people.
Is it worth the anxiety of not knowing if you can or doing an implant to where you know it’s going to work. What’s your why, that’s what you really have to figure out, and then if you’re in a relationship, make sure you involve your partner.
It affects them just as much as it affects you, because if you aren’t able to, that affects your marriage, that affects your relationship, it effects your emotional connection, just as much as your physical connection.
So they have to be a part of that decision as well, and that’s one thing that me and my wife did is we went in this together, it’s not me by myself, and it’s not just her, it’s us.
And she helped me see questions that I needed to to ask that I wasn’t sure about, and I helped her with finding questions that she had, and then being able to sit down and just discuss and research and find information and find videos of people who like me now are giving their testimonies of how it helped the fears that they had.
And really just taking time and actually going through the steps and doing your research and answering your questions and making sure you follow all that, because it’s not just a simple decision, you really have to think about it and weighing your pros and cons out, and after doing that, it was a no-brainer for me.
With the side effects that some of the other stuff could have versus side effects that a pump could have or things that you couldn’t do with this, that you can do with this, and just figuring out what works best for you.
And in my situation, this was the best thing that I could do for me and for my wife, and it was the best decision that I made.
A marriage is not just a physical connection, it’s an emotional connection, and that emotional connection comes from a physical connection.
So if you try to eliminate one, you end up eliminating two. So that’s why it’s important to think outside of the box, think outside of yourself, and that’s where kind of swallowing some pride, it kind of helped me swallow that pride, it’s not just me.
And then that’s when I really started thinking, was that what really makes me a a man? Is that what makes me a husband? That’s not what it is. What makes me a husband is the concern that I had with my partner as well as me, how is this going to affect her, not just me.
That helped me eliminate that pride that that’s what makes me a man. And that’s why it was really important to have her with me and us going through it together, because that’s what it’s about. It was about me and her, not just me.
Mark: And Paul, that is a very, very powerful message. And I thank you for sharing your personal story, your experiences and really being vulnerable with us.
I think getting your story out as well as other men who have experienced all sorts of challenges with erections; making this information available to people is really important, and we cannot wait to get this episode out to our listeners. So Paul, thank you again, we appreciate you joining us.
Paul: Thank you for having me. I’m glad I could shed some light and information and hopefully help somebody that was on the same journey that I was on.
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