To maintain a normal erectile mechanism, it’s crucial that both the arterial and venous systems in the penis are functioning properly. 

Penile Venous Leak is a vascular condition that leads to erectile dysfunction (ED). This article will discuss the reasons, diagnosis, and treatment options for venous leakage or venous insufficiency, which are significant contributors to erectile difficulties.

What is a Penile Venous Leak?

Penile Venous leak

Venous Leak is a condition affecting the penile veins, crucial for maintaining an erection. Normally, for an erection to occur, fresh blood flows into the penis through the penile arteries. 

This blood should remain in the penis due to the closure of veins that would otherwise drain it. After an orgasm (ejaculation), the venous valves open, allowing the blood to leave the penis and the erection to subside.

However, in cases of Venous Leak, there is a dysfunction in the closure of these penile veins (veno-occlusive dysfunction).

This issue prevents the blood that arrives in the penis from the arteries from being retained, as it leaks back out due to the veins not closing properly. 

This phenomenon is known as Venous Leak or venous insufficiency. The erectile dysfunction that arises due to venous insufficiency is classified as one of the vascular-origin causes of erection problems.

What are the symptoms of Venous Leak?

The symptoms of Venous Leak, which may lead to suspicions of the condition in patients presenting with erectile difficulties, include:

  1. Difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection.
  2. Inability to achieve a fully firm erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.
  3. Variation in the quality of erection depends on the position of the body.
  4. Potential shortening of the penis length, which may occur if Peyronie’s disease is present.
  5. Thinning of the penis over its entire length.
  6. Inadequate firmness in the glans penis (head of the penis) during an erection.
  7. The head of the penis is feeling cold.

It is important to note that diagnosing Venous Leak cannot always be done solely based on symptoms and patient history.

Therefore, if these symptoms are present, further investigations are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of Venous Leak.

How is Venous Leakage diagnosed?

Penile Venous leakage

Diagnosing penile venous leakage in patients with erectile dysfunction involves a thorough evaluation and specific diagnostic procedures:

Detailed History and Examination (Anamnesis): 

A comprehensive medical history is vital. This includes investigating general health, any vascular diseases, diabetes (diabetes mellitus), and neurological disorders, as the incidence of penile venous leakage is higher in these conditions.

Penile Doppler Ultrasonography (USG)

This is a frequently used diagnostic method for evaluating erectile dysfunction. In this test, an erection-inducing injection is given, and then the penile arteries and veins are assessed using Doppler ultrasound.

Normally, arterial blood flow should increase and venous return should be restricted during an erection.

In cases of venous insufficiency, the penile veins do not close properly, allowing the blood that flows into the penis to escape back into circulation, a condition known as penile venous leakage.


In this procedure, a contrast material is injected into the penis, and X-ray imaging is used to determine if there is any leakage in the veins. The presence of the contrast material in the veins can be detected on the X-ray film.

Dynamic Infusion Cavernosometry

Here, after an erection is induced by injection, a contrast agent is injected into the cavernous body of the penis under specific pressure.

During this process, an X-ray of the patient’s pelvis is taken to assess if there is any leakage in the penile veins. If leakage is present, the escape of the contrast agent from the veins is easily visible.

These diagnostic methods help in accurately identifying venous leakage, guiding appropriate treatment for erectile dysfunction.

What are the causes of Venous Leak?

Penile Venous leakage

Venous leakage, a factor contributing to erectile dysfunction, can be caused by a variety of underlying reasons. 

When patients visit an andrology specialist with erectile dysfunction complaints, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive evaluation. The potential causes of Venous Leak include:

  1. Psychological Factors: Stress or anxiety can lead to Venous Leak, as psychological conditions can significantly impact erectile function.
  2. Neurological Causes: Various neurological disorders can affect the nerve signals essential for maintaining an erection.
  3. Medication Side Effects: Certain drugs may induce Venous Leak as a side effect, impacting erectile function.
  4. Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus): This condition can damage blood vessels and nerves, which can lead to Venous Leak.
  5. Testosterone Deficiency: Low levels of testosterone (the male hormone) can influence erectile function and may contribute to Venous Leak.
  6. Lower Urinary System Complaints: Issues in the lower urinary system can also be linked to erectile dysfunction and venous leakage.
  7. General Vascular Disease: Vascular diseases can affect blood flow, including the blood flow necessary for an erection, thereby contributing to Venous Leak.
  8. Radiotherapy: Patients who have received radiotherapy to the pelvic region for cancer treatment may experience Venous Leak as a consequence.

Understanding these factors is essential in diagnosing and treating erectile dysfunction effectively, especially when Venous Leak is involved.

Management and Treatment of Penile Venous Leak

Addressing venous leakage often begins with lifestyle modifications. These non-medical strategies can be pivotal in managing symptoms. Key changes include:

  1. Smoking Cessation: Quitting smoking can significantly improve overall health and potentially alleviate venous leakage symptoms.
  2. Alcohol Reduction: Cutting back on alcohol consumption can have a positive impact on this condition.
  3. Regular Exercise: Incorporating consistent physical activity into daily life can enhance general health and may help with venous leakage symptoms.

When these lifestyle adjustments don’t yield the desired results, medical interventions are available. A prevalent treatment approach involves medications like phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, including Viagra.

These drugs aim to enhance penile blood flow, thereby aiding in achieving an erection. It’s important to note that such medications may not work for everyone and could cause side effects in some cases.

Therefore, consulting with Istanbul Urology Clinic or Your healthcare provider before beginning any new medication is crucial.

Non-surgical treatment options for Penile Venous Leak

stem cell therapy in Penile Venous leakage

Non-surgical treatment options for Penile Venous Leak, a condition that can lead to erectile dysfunction, are varied and tailored to the severity and underlying causes of the condition. Here are some of the common non-surgical treatments:

Psychological in Penile Venous Leak Treatment:

For patients whose erectile dysfunction is compounded by psychological issues, counseling and psychological therapy can be effective.

Resolving psychological problems can sometimes alleviate venous insufficiency and erection problems.

Drug Therapy:

Oral medications, particularly those in the PDE5 inhibitor (PDE5i) group, are often used to treat erectile dysfunction. However, it’s important to note that patients with severe Venous Leak may not respond well to these drugs.

Testosterone Therapy:

Low testosterone levels can contribute to venous insufficiency. Therefore, measuring serum testosterone levels and providing treatment if they are low can be beneficial in some patients with erectile dysfunction.

Penile Injection Therapy:

This involves injecting medication directly into the penis to induce an erection. Patients can learn to self-administer these injections under a urologist’s supervision.

The dosage may vary between individuals. This method may be less effective in patients with severe Venous Leak.

ESWT (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy):

ESWT has been used for about 10-15 years in erectile dysfunction treatment. It works by stimulating the formation of new blood vessels in the penis and rejuvenating the endothelial cells inside the corpus cavernosum.

While its effectiveness specifically for venous insufficiency-related erectile dysfunction may be beneficial for those with mild Venous Leak.

PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) Treatment:

While Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment isn’t a direct remedy for venous leakage, it can enhance overall sexual performance by improving blood flow, stimulating tissue regeneration, and fostering penile health.

Though not a targeted solution, PRP therapy may reduce the apparent challenges of venous leakage by creating a more robust vascular environment, contributing to an improved overall sexual experience.

Stem Cell Therapy in Penile Venous Leak Treatment: 

Stem cell therapy, like PRP, isn’t a specific treatment for venous leakage, a condition linked to erectile dysfunction.

However, by promoting tissue regeneration, enhancing blood flow, and supporting overall penile health, stem cell therapy has shown potential in improving sexual performance.

While not directly addressing venous leakage, the therapy may create a more robust vascular environment, potentially reducing the impact of this condition and enhancing the overall sexual experience.

Urethral Suppositories:

Medications in the form of gels inserted into the urethra can be used in patients with erection problems, including those with venous leakage.

Herbal Supplements:

There is no scientific backing for the use of herbal supplements in treating venous leakage, and they are not recommended based on current medical literature.

It’s important for patients to consult with Istanbul Urology Clinic or  your healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment based on their specific condition and medical history.

Surgical Treatment Options for Penile Venous Leak

penile implant for Venous leakage

For treating venous leakage that leads to erectile dysfunction, especially when non-surgical methods are ineffective, several surgical options are available. 

These surgeries vary based on individual circumstances, the severity of the disease, and its underlying causes. The three main surgical methods commonly employed are:

Venous Surgery (Deep Dorsal Vein Ligation):

      • This procedure involves ligating (tying off) and cutting the deep veins in the dorsal (back) region of the penis.
      • Not only the deep veins are addressed, but also the smaller collateral veins connected to these larger veins are ligated during the surgery.
      • Care is taken to avoid damaging the penile nerve and artery.
      • While popular in the 1990s, its use has declined due to the observation that its effectiveness tends to decrease over time. However, it is still performed on highly selected patients.
      • The surgery is performed under general or spinal anesthesia and usually takes about an hour. Patients typically stay in the hospital for one day and can resume sexual activity after 4-6 weeks.
      • Studies suggest that ESWT (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy) post-surgery can be effective, and it may be applied 4-6 weeks following the procedure.

Venous Ligation and Crus Plication:

      • This technique combines deep dorsal vein ligation with crus plication (crural plication) performed near the root of the corpus cavernosum.
      • It is often more successful than just deep dorsal vein ligation and yields very positive results in suitable patients.
      • These surgeries are intricate and require experienced surgical expertise.

Penile Implant Surgery:

    • Penile prosthesis implantation is considered a last resort for erectile dysfunction, as it is an irreversible procedure.
    • Before opting for a prosthesis, particularly in younger patients, it’s crucial to exhaust other treatment options.
    • Detailed pre-surgical counseling about the procedure and the choice of an appropriate prosthesis type is essential.
    • Penile prosthesis surgery is often preferred in older patients with severe venous leakage, particularly those with diabetes or other underlying conditions.

It is important for patients to have a thorough consultation with their healthcare provider to understand the risks, benefits, and expectations of each surgical option, ensuring the most appropriate treatment decision is made.

FAQs About Venous Leak

Not always. Surgery is considered when other treatments fail. The decision depends on individual cases and the underlying cause.


Venous leak primarily affects the ability to maintain an erection and doesn’t directly impact fertility. However, it can indirectly affect the ability to conceive naturally.


Yes, lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol can improve overall blood flow and potentially alleviate symptoms.


It is one of several physical causes of ED. While not the most common, it is a significant factor, especially in cases where no other obvious cause is identified.

Venous leak is typically a chronic condition. Its duration and severity can vary based on underlying causes and the effectiveness of treatment.


Yes, in addition to lifestyle changes, medications such as phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors can help. Stem Cell Therapy are also used in Venous Leak Treatment.


Venous leak itself is not usually painful. However, any underlying conditions or injuries that cause venous leak might be associated with pain or discomfort.


While more common in older men, young men can also develop venous leak, especially if they have underlying health issues or have sustained an injury.


Psychological factors don’t directly cause venous leak, which is a physical issue. However, they can exacerbate ED symptoms in men with venous leak.


There is no clear evidence that venous leak is hereditary, though some underlying causes like vascular disease can have genetic components.


Some measures, like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing chronic diseases, and avoiding penile injuries, can reduce the risk.


Early detection is challenging as symptoms often appear gradually. Regular check-ups and discussing any early signs of ED with a doctor can help.


Yes, heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions can affect blood flow, potentially leading to or worsening venous leak.


Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet, as these can worsen cardiovascular health and symptoms.


This depends on the cause, severity, and how well the underlying conditions are managed.


To summarize, venous leakage, also known as venous insufficiency, is a condition where erectile dysfunction occurs due to the penile veins failing to seal properly during an erection. 

The treatment approach depends on the specific cause and severity of the condition. Venous surgery, involving the ligation of veins, is one surgical option. In more severe instances, the implantation of a penile prosthesis may be considered as the final resort.

Check Also

Post-Op of Penile Lengthening Surgery in Turkey

Individuals seeking penile lengthening surgery often do so to enhance their sexual experie…