MANILA, Philippines - Some men want penile implants with the belief that these could provide sexual satisfaction to their partners or be an "enhancing factor" to their masculinity.
These implants come in different forms (from inflatable cylinders to semi-rigid rods), but the most common in the Philippines is the bolitas or round pellets made of plastic or metal.
A study led by Romeo Lee, Ph.D. of the De La Salle University, titled Between the Thighs: Penile Circumcision, Implants and Sexual Gadgets, showed that as much as 6 bolitas may be placed in one penis.
While it observed that the device had pleasurable or no effects among partners, the same study said that using the bolitas comes with its own set of complications. Some male respondents said they experienced "biting, deep and throbbing pain" in their penis, while others had penile inflammation which persisted for days.
Women respondents whose partners were pertinent users of the device, meanwhile, complained of pain, rashes, wounds, bleeding, pus or inflammation in their vagina.
It could be noted that a tear in the vagina makes it susceptible to reproductive tract infections.
"Eleven of the 54 respondents pointed not to the sexual pleasure that their partner received from implant use, but to their vaginal pain. They admitted that their partner was unhappy," the study said.
A bolitas made of plastic is usually formed by melting spoons, ballpens, toothbrushes, rosary beads, necklace beads or deodorant rollers. the study said. Other implants are made of metal or steel balls, ivory, jade or fiberglass.
It has yet to be known, though, how long these items can stay inside the penis.
Also alarming is how the bolitas are inserted into a man's sex organ. The study said that in non-clinics, a sharpened ballpen cap made of hard plastic is used to make an incision for the balls.
"The study made no observation of insertion procedures in clinics because the doctor-owners did not agree to it," it said.
Given these, men are encouraged to think twice before getting bolitas, while non-medical implant providers are urged to make the procedure safe for their clients.
"While waiting for safe or safer practice standards for all providers, the clients ought to learn how to exercise judgment and care in selecting their providers, implants or gadgets for that matter," it said.