For years, men suffering from erectile dysfunction were told to reach for the little blue pill. But if that fails, what’s left? An inventive application of elastic “memory metal” is being used to create a penile implant to help men regain control of their bodies. 2016: shitty year for everyone else, actually not a bad year for dicks.
Dr. Brian Le is a faculty member in the Department of Urology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Le and his colleagues are testing a super-elastic “memory metal” that mimics your member by bending, expanding, and shrinking. Through a simple procedure, it could help men maintain erections when drugs or the clunky and inconsistent pumps fail.
While British tabloid press sneeringly dubbed it a “bionic penis,” Le likens it to breast implants following a mastectomy. “It’s a survivorship issue – restoring function can help people feel whole in their bodies again,” Le said.
The technology makes use of nitinol, a heat-activated nickel-titanium alloy. As a “memory metal,” Nitinol remains flaccid at the body’s resting temperature and expands when heated, “remembering” the same size as it shrinks and expands. Le says he’s testing remote control devices that can be waved over the penis, introducing enough heat to cause it to expand.
Erectile dysfunction is very common for men over 40, a third of whom don’t respond to Viagra. This is only complicated by the many health concerns that arise with age: cancers, heart disease, etc. Implants like this offer hope for the men with severe erectile dysfunction.
For now, the device has only undergone mechanical testing. No one has “suited up,” if you will, with the device just yet, but Le has said he hopes the implant will reach the consumer market in the next 5 to 10 years.
Laugh now, millennials. But in 20 years time, just as you’re approaching your 40's and 50's, this will be standard tech. The future is near.