An erectile dysfunction (ED) pump is a vacuum constriction device (VCD), also known as a penile pump, used to help men with ED get or sustain erections.
ED pumps are safe and significantly benefit men with:
- Atherosclerosis (in which there is poor blood flow to the penis)
- A history of pelvic or genital surgery
- Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
Studies suggest that more than half of the men with ED have experienced satisfactory results from using penile pumps.
An ED pump is, in fact, an essential device for people who have undergone prostate removal surgery (prostatectomy). Regular usage of these devices is an effective measure to help these patients in penile rehabilitation.
The advertising claims made by various companies manufacturing ED pumps may lead people to believe that these pumps are permanent penis enlarging devices. While the pumps do make your penis look bigger as blood fills in them during erections, the effect is only temporary. Once the effect of the pump is over, the penis returns to its original size and does not increase in size over time.
People who have decided to use ED pumps should not think of them as a cure for their erectile dysfunction. A VCD is a great option for people who have not benefited from Viagra pills or who are not fit to take them. However, it is highly recommended that these individuals should also take the medications prescribed by their doctor to treat the cause of their ED.
How do ED pumps work?
An erectile dysfunction pump works by creating negative pressure (vacuum) inside the cylinder, in which the penis needs to be inserted. It is the vacuum that draws the blood into the penis and helps it get an erection. Once erect, the pump is removed and a constriction ring is placed on the body of the penis to help sustain the erection.
As the sexual activity ends, the ring comes off, and the penis returns to its flaccid form.
For men with arthritis or problems with hand coordination, hand-operated pumps may pose a problem. These individuals may opt for a battery-powered pump instead.
Are there any side effects of using ED pumps?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of penile pumps in most men with erectile dysfunction (ED).
However, every medical device comes with some side effects, and the possible side effects of ED pumps include:
- Petechiae: Ruptured blood vessels over the shaft of the penis that look like red, purple or brown spots. The condition is usually painless and generally will resolve in a few days.
- Bruising: Incorrect use of the ED pump can injure the penis.
- Decrease in the force of ejaculation: The person using the penile pump may feel like their semen is getting trapped in the penis. However, once the constriction band is removed, the semen gets released.
- Increased risk of bleeding: For people on blood-thinning medications, the use of an ED pump can increase their risk of penile bleeding. Similarly, ED pumps might not be safe for someone with a blood disorder called sickle cell anemia or in cases of certain blood cancers.
An ED pump should also not be used by men who suffer from a condition called priapism, which is characterized by painful erections.
Though many people with ED have benefitted from the use of penile pumps, they may not get the same natural feeling as before. The penis may feel numb and turn bluish, though getting a bigger constriction ring may help fix that situation.
While some people may feel initially awkward using the pump for the first few times, after multiple uses, people often get more comfortable using the device.
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Yuan J, Hoang AN, Romero CA, et al. Vacuum Therapy in Erectile Dysfunction--Science and Clinical Evidence. Int J Impot Res. 2010 Jul-Aug;22(4):211-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20410903/
Lin H, Wang R. The Science of Vacuum Erectile Device in Penile Rehabilitation After Radical Prostatectomy. Transl Androl Urol. 2013;2(1):61-66. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4708600/
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