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    How to use a vacuum pump for erectile dysfunction

    On this page
    1. What is a penis pump?
    2. How does an erectile dysfunction pump work?
    3. Who can use a vacuum pump for ED?
    4. What are the benefits of a vacuum pump for erectile dysfunction?
    5. Vacuum pump side effects and risks
    6. What is the best vacuum device for erectile dysfunction?
    7. Other treatments for erectile dysfunction

    Reviewed by our clinical team

    Vacuum pump for erectile dysfunction

    Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition where a man has difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection. ED has several different causes, including physical and psychological factors.

    There is a range of treatments for erectile dysfunction, of which a vacuum or penis pump is one.

    Read on to find out more about what a penis pump is and how to use it, as well as the benefits and side effects that come from its use.

    What is a penis pump?

    A penis pump in a nondrug treatment for erectile dysfunction. It is a vacuum device that can help your penis to become and stay erect long enough to have penetrative sex.

    The device consists of three main parts: a plastic tube that fits over the penis, a battery or hand-powered pump that is connected to the tube, and a constriction band/ring that fits around the base of the penis after it is erect.

    How does an erectile dysfunction pump work?

    Although a penis pump might feel awkward to use initially, they are easy to operate and can help you to get better erections. They work by creating a vacuum around the penis, which encourages blood flow, causing an erection.

    Before using a penis pump, some men may want to trim or shave their pubic hair for comfort and to avoid the ring getting caught. You may also want to use a small amount of lubricant to prevent any irritation from the tube.

    To use the pump, place the tube over your penis, ensuring that your penis is fully inserted. Next, use the hand-powered or battery-powered pump to begin removing air from the tube. This will cause blood to start being drawn into the penis.

    Once your penis is erect, slide the constriction ring down the penis until it is sitting at the base. This will help maintain your erection by keeping blood in the penile tissue.

    Who can use a vacuum pump for ED?

    Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age; affecting approximately 50% of men aged 40-70. Although it is more common in men aged over 40, young men can experience ED too.

    Most men who have erectile dysfunction can try using a penis pump if they wish, including those with diabetes, those who have spinal cord injuries and men who have had prostate removal surgery.

    However, there are some circumstances in which they are not recommended as they can make existing conditions worse, such as priapism, Peyronie’s disease and urethral strictures.

    If you are interested in using a penis pump to treat ED, talk to a medical professional first to make sure it is a suitable treatment option for you.

    What are the benefits of a vacuum pump for erectile dysfunction?

    Vacuum pumps can be an effective treatment option for many men who have erectile dysfunction. There are many myths about erectile dysfunction and using a penis pump, but they can help you to sustain an erection for up to 30 minutes. Here are some of the advantages of penis pumps:

    • They are non-invasive
    • They are generally safe with fewer side effects than ED medications
    • They are affordable and the cost is usually lower than long-term medications
    • They can help restore penis function after medical procedures

    Vacuum pump side effects and risks

    Just as there are side effects from erectile dysfunction medications such as Cialis and Viagra, using a penis pump can cause the following side-effects or issues:

    • Pain
    • Bruising
    • Petechiae (red pinpoint dots under the skin caused by bleeding)
    • Numbness or loss of sensation
    • Bluish colouration of the penis
    • A feeling of trapped semen
    • A lack of firmness
    • Reducing the spontaneity of sexual intimacy
    • Embarrassment or awkwardness

    What is the best vacuum device for erectile dysfunction?

    Penis pumps aren’t always available on the NHS, but they can be purchased over the counter, online and from specialist shops. Many places will offer discreet packaging and/or delivery.

    There are different types of penis pumps so it's a good idea to explore which you feel is most suited to your needs. For example, some use water whilst others just use air, and some are battery-powered whereas others require you to operate the pump manually. You may also want to talk to your partner about your ED and discuss how to effectively integrate using a penis pump into your sex life.

    You will also want to look at the pump’s safety features. A vacuum limiter, for instance, is beneficial as this will prevent the penis pump’s pressure from becoming too strong and causing injury. Also, check what warranty comes with the device and if it has an easy-to-understand manual.

    Some penis pumps will come with additional features such as a case, lubricant, or size rings, so think about whether these are things you want to be included.

    Other treatments for erectile dysfunction

    There are alternative treatments for erectile dysfunction if you do not feel that a penis pump will work for your situation or it is not recommended that you use one.


    There is a range of oral medications, including Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, that can be used to treat ED. They have different benefits and side effects, so it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional about which one is the best for you.

    Levitra and Cialis require a prescription, but Viagra can be purchased without one in the form of Viagra Connect

    Constriction rings

    Constriction rings are bands that fit around the base of the penis and apply pressure which helps keep blood in the penis to maintain an erection. They come in a range of sizes, materials, and types. Some are stretchy whereas others are adjustable, and you can even get vibrating ones which are designed to increase stimulation.

    Physical and psychological treatment

    Some men experience erectile dysfunction because of a psychological cause such as depression or stress, rather than a physical cause. 

    In these instances, a form of therapy for erectile dysfunction may be more beneficial. Psychological treatments for ED include cognitive behavioural therapy, psychosexual therapy, and sex therapy.

    In summary, penis pumps are a non drug treatment for erectile dysfunction. They help in the treatment of erectile dysfunction by pulling blood into the penis, creating an erection.

    They can be purchased over the counter, online and from specialist shops, and there is a range of different types. They can be less expensive than medications for ED, but like other forms of treatment, their use does have some risks and possible side effects.



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