A penis pump is one of a few treatment options for the inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient for sex (erectile dysfunction). A penis pump consists of a plastic tube that fits over the penis, a hand or battery-powered pump attached to the tube, and a band that fits around the base of the penis once it is erect (constriction ring).
A penis pump is sometimes called a vacuum pump or a vacuum erection device.
Erectile dysfunction is a common problem, especially following prostate surgery and in older men. Oral medications prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction include sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca) and avanafil (Stendra).
Other erectile dysfunction treatments include medications inserted through the tip of your penis into the tube inside that carries urine and semen (urethra), shots you inject into your penis (penile injections), and surgically placed penile implants.
A penis pump might be a good choice if these treatments cause side effects, don't work or aren't safe for you.
Penis pumps can be a good erectile dysfunction treatment for several reasons:
A penis pump is used to draw blood into the penis to create an erection. You then place a rubber ring around the base of the penis to maintain the erection.
Although penis pumps are safe for most men, there are some potential risks. For example:
Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions and any medications you take, including herbal supplements. This will help prevent potential problems.
Side effects of using a penis pump can include:
Penis pumps have some other possible drawbacks:
When you see your doctor about erectile dysfunction, be prepared to answer a number of questions about your health and your symptoms. In some cases, erectile dysfunction has an underlying cause that can be treated.
Depending on your condition, you might need to see a doctor who specializes in treating urinary and reproductive disorders (urologist).
To determine whether a penis pump is a good treatment option for you, your doctor might ask about:
Your doctor will likely do a physical exam, which typically includes checking your genitals and feeling your pulse in arteries in different parts of your body (peripheral arteries).
Your doctor might perform a digital rectal examination (DRE) to check your prostate gland. During a DRE, your doctor will gently insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel the surface of the prostate.
If the cause of your erectile dysfunction is already known when you see your doctor, your appointment might be less involved.
Some penis pumps are available without a prescription, but talk to your doctor before purchasing one. Your doctor might recommend or prescribe a specific model. That way you can be sure it suits your needs and that it's made by a reputable manufacturer.
Penis pumps available online, in magazines and sex ads might not be safe or effective. Make sure the penis pump you use has a vacuum limiter, which keeps pressure from getting too high and injuring your penis.
Before using a penis pump for the first time, you might want to trim or shave any pubic hair near the base of your penis so that it doesn't get caught in the ring.
Many advertisements in magazines and on the internet market penis pumps with the claim that they can be used to increase penis size, but there's no evidence that they work for this purpose. Attempting to use a penis pump specifically to enlarge your penis could cause injury.
Using a penis pump requires a few simple steps:
Don't leave the tension ring in place for more than 30 minutes — cutting off blood flow for too long might injure your penis.
Using a penis pump won't cure erectile dysfunction, but it might create an erection firm enough for you to have sexual intercourse. You might need to combine use of a penis pump with other treatments, such as taking erectile dysfunction medications.