Erectile dysfunction can be treated in a number of different ways, depending on the cause. Vacuum devices are an option for men who can’t take erectile dysfunction drugs or whose condition isn’t caused by psychological factors that can be helped with psychotherapy. Also called penis pumps, vacuum devices enable men to get and maintain erections long enough for sexual intercourse.
How Does a Vacuum Device Work?
Using a vacuum device, also known as a constriction device, doesn’t involve the use of erectile dysfunction drugs or surgery. A penis pump is a cylindrical tube that you slide over the penis. Pumping it to get rid of the air in the tube creates a vacuum effect that encourages blood flow to the penis, leading to an erection. To keep the blood in the penis and prevent it from draining out, a band at the end of the tube is rolled over to the penis base, where it stays while you have sexual intercourse. The band can be kept safely in place for as long as 20 minutes, and then it must be removed. A variation of the vacuum device includes a rubber sheath that is put on the penis and kept on throughout intercourse.
Pros and Cons of Vacuum Devices for ED
A vacuum device may be effective for certain men, resulting in erections when they use it. While there have been no recent studies, over the years since vacuum devices were introduced, they have proven helpful for some men.
When used correctly, vacuum devices are generally safe. There is no risk of a major drop in blood pressure or other severe side effects or risks associated with erectile dysfunction medications. But it’s important to remove the band in a timely manner, or any time you feel pain, notice a change in color of the penis, or if the penis starts to feel cold.
Also, these devices can be bulky and awkward to use, and don’t allow for spontaneous sex — you will need to set aside time to use the device just before intercourse.
Is a Vacuum Device Right For You?
Men who are unable to take erectile dysfunction drugs or who don’t want to undergo surgery could be good candidates for vacuum devices. Surgery is an option for some men with erectile dysfunction, but shouldn’t be considered a first-line treatment. And while erectile dysfunction medications are effective and allow for spontaneous sex, they aren’t appropriate for men taking nitrate medications or alpha blockers for heart and blood pressure problems because of the risk of rapidly decreasing blood pressure levels.
Several types of penis pumps are available at online pharmacies, sex shops, and other retail outlets, but it’s best to talk to your doctor before you buy and use one. A doctor can recommend an appropriate model, as well as offer suggestions for reputable stores where you can purchase one. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
A vacuum constriction device (VCD) is an external pump with a band on it that a man with erectile dysfunction can use to get and maintain an erection.
The VCD consists of an acrylic cylinder with a pump that may be attached directly to the end of the penis. A constriction ring or band is placed on the cylinder at the other end, which is applied to the body. The cylinder and pump are used to create a vacuum to help the penis become erect; the band or constriction ring is used to help maintain the erection.
How Do Vacuum Constriction Devices Work?
To use a vacuum constriction device:
- Place the pump, which can be pumped by hand or run on batteries, over the penis.
- Pump the air out of the cylinder so that a vacuum is created. The vacuum draws blood into the shaft of the penis and causes it to swell and become erect.
- Once the penis is erect, with the help of lubricant, slide the retaining band down onto the lower end of the penis.
- Remove the pump after releasing the vacuum.
Advantages & Limitations
External Vacuum Pump: Advantages
- Least invasive method of all
- Requires no medication or surgery
- Insurance will cover expense
External Vacuum Pump: Limitations
- High rate of discontinued use (65%)
- Painful erection