In Depth

How a bionic penis works

British man born without ‘manhood’ gets £50,000 penile implant

A British man born without a penis has been been fitted with a bionic version. 

Andrew Wardle successfully underwent the final stage of a £50,000 penis implant operation at London’s University College Hospital on Friday and “has been given the all-clear to finally lose his virginity” once a two-month recovery period is up, says the Daily Mail.

Wardle told the newspaper that simply feeling normal was more important to him than being able to have sex. 

“I’m very excited I can move on now,” he said. “But I think having sex for the first time is more of a big deal for everyone else than it is for me. I’ve spent 44 years without a penis and I’ve coped with not having sex for all that time.

“It will take me a while to get in the swing of things. I’m looking forward to it, but it’s not the be all and end all. It’s a by-product of the operation. It will enable me to feel part of society.”

Why doesn’t he have a penis?

Wardle, from Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, was born with bladder exstrophy, “a one-in-20 million defect that means while he has testicles he does not have a penis”, The Sun reports. The bladder is left exposed “somewhere between the tummy button and the pubic bone”, and the urethra - which carries urine out from the bladder - does not form, the newspaper explains. 

That “meant that his childhood involved a series of hospital visits to alleviate bladder problems, and as he grew up he always tried to hide his condition”, says The Times. After struggling with depression, Wardle was put in touch by his GP with a urologist at University College Hospital, where a team of experts began working on the penile implant in 2015.

How does the bionic penis work?

The penis itself was built from the skin, muscles and nerves in Wardle’s left arm and the vein in his right leg. Following a three-year delay owing to complications in his abdomen, doctors eventually inserted the reservoir component of his penile implant into the left side of his abdomen and sculpted the head of his new penis.

Inside the reservoir component is an implant that can pump saline fluid into the body of the penis in order to make it erect for intercourse. 

As a test run, the 44-year-old “will have an erection for the next ten days before his implant is deflated”, says the Daily Mail.

Doctors have told him he must then wait six weeks before having sex with his long-term girlfriend.

Wardle is looking forward to life with his new member, saying: “I’m very aware there’s some robotics inside me but it feels a part of me now. I’m very aware that I am half-human, half-robot.

“I’m like the bionic man. I will even be able to perform if I am drunk.”

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