Testicular prostheses have been available since 1940. Before 1973 they were made of the metal vitallium, but since then gel-filled implants have been used worldwide. Prostheses are used, for example when:
• an undescended testicle has been removed
• a testicle has been removed because of a tumour
• a testicle has been removed because of a torsio testis that has been discovered too late
• where a testicle has been missing from birth
Why use a prosthesis? Many men feel incomplete without a testicle. Young men often use one because they do not yet have a sexual relationship, or are frightened of someone seeing, for instance, in the shower after sports or in the sauna or on the beach.
Testicular prostheses come in various sizes, and inserting one is a simple procedure: an incision is made just above the scrotum through which the prosthesis is introduced and if necessary attached. The operation takes about twenty minutes, so that the patient can return home the same day. Research has shown that complications occur only in exceptional cases, and these take the form of: leakage, mostly after a trauma, a haemorrhage, infection, wound dehiscence or an allergic reaction. In order to prevent infection the patient is given antibiotics before and after the operation. In most cases a prosthesis can be claimed on insurance.
In 1999 the radiographer Luca Incrocci from Rotterdam carried out a research project among men with a testicular prosthesis. He examined thirty men aged between eighteen and 75 who had a prosthesis implanted. The average age of the research sample was 30. With five of these men there were complications. A few results from this research: 20 per cent still had problems with sexual contacts, 20 per cent still had sexual problems, but almost 70 per cent experienced an improvement in body image after insertion of the prosthesis. The latter fact is significant, since that is what a prosthesis implantation is ultimately about! The other problems can in the great majority of cases be solved not through an operation but by consulting a sexologist.