A small study suggests that men who are taking an anticoagulant medication (a type of blood thinner) can safely undergo penile implant surgery. These results were presented at the 2012 World Meeting on Sexual Medicine.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects an estimated 30 million men in the United States,[1] making it one of the most common sexual problems in men. ED is the inability to get or keep an erection that’s firm enough for sexual intercourse.

Several options are available for the treatment of ED, including oral medications, medications injected into the penis, vacuum devices, and penile implants.

Penile implants (also known as penile prostheses) are surgically placed inside of the penis. The most commonly used type of implant is inflatable: it includes a fluid reservoir and pump. When an erection is desired, the implant is inflated by pressing on the pump, which is located under the skin. Another type of implant is malleable (bendable): to have an erection, the penis is simply moved into an erect position.

The safety of penile implant surgery among men taking an anticoagulant was evaluated in a small study conducted at the LaheyClinicMedicalCenterin Burlington, MA.[2] Anticoagulants—such as warfarin and heparin—can play an important role in preventing blood clots, but carry a risk of bleeding problems.

The study enrolled 91 men who were having an inflatable penile prosthesis implanted; 11 of these men were taking an anticoagulant medication at the time of surgery.

  • Length of hospital stay was 3 days among men who were taking an anticoagulant and 1 day among men who were not taking an anticoagulant.
  • Estimated blood loss was similar in the two groups: 127 mL among men who were taking an anticoagulant and 125 mL among men who were not taking an anticoagulant.
  • No bleeding complications occurred, and no patients required a blood transfusion.

The researchers concluded that penile implant surgery may be safely performed in men who are taking an anticoagulant, and that continuation of the anticoagulant may help to manage the men’s other health conditions.

Given the small size of the study (only 11 men were taking an anticoagulant at the time of surgery), these results should be viewed as suggestive but not definitive.


[1] National Institutes of Health, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Erectile Dysfunction. NIH Publication No. 09-3923. June 2009.

[2] Hammerich K, Humphrey JE, Bennett JR NE. Anticoagulative therapy is not a contraindication for penile prosthesis implantation. Presented at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine 2012. August 26-30, 2012.Chicago,IL. Abstract 157.

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