What is a Penis Pump?
Erectile dysfunction is difficult for any man faced with this inability to attain and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. It can be equally as difficult for his partner. But, there are a multitude of treatments for this disorder, including medication, surgery and a vacuum constriction device (VCD), also known as a penis pump. One of the most popular non-invasive treatments for erectile dysfunction, a penis pump is a fairly convenient and low cost method to help a man with erectile dysfunction achieve and maintain an erection.
A penis pump is a cylinder usually made of clear acrylic with a pump attached at one end. The penis pump cylinder slides directly over the end of the penis, creating an airtight chamber against the body. The pump itself creates a negative pressure in the chamber of the penis pump. The pump’s suction may be controlled through hand action or a battery powered mechanism.
Do Penis Pumps Work?
Through the vacuum created by the penis pump, penile engorgement of blood results in an erection suitable for sexual activity. A constriction band is then placed around the penis at its base. This constriction band restricts blood flow from the penis and helps maintain the erection after successful pumping.
Choosing the Right Penis Pump
A penis pump is both noninvasive and suitable for use along with other erectile dysfunction treatments, such as oral prescriptions. Having been used for erectile dysfunction for well over a century, penis pump devices have become more popular in recent years.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved use of penis pump vacuums for erectile dysfunction treatment. It is generally recommended that men choosing to use an erectile dysfunction pump utilize one that has been designed by a medical equipment company, in order to ensure lower risk of pressure-induced injury to the penis. These companies have conducted a great deal of research on vacuum devices for erectile dysfunction and carefully construct their designs and mechanisms to be safe and suitable for inducing erection for sexual activity. As an example, FDA approved penis pump devices have a pop-off safety valve to ensure too much pressure does not develop in the cylinder.
Penis pump devices which have not been professionally tested or approved for medical use can potentially be dangerous to the penis. These so-called “penis developer” devices, sometimes called a “dick pump,” have no clearance by the FDA and are often marketed as penis enlargement devices. They are typically obtained through mail order and online companies under taglines suggesting information about how to get a bigger penis through penis pumping. As penis pump use results only in temporary erection and change in the penis appearance, these pumps do not actually cause penis growth.
Men with hand coordination or dexterity problems will likely want to use a battery powered penis pump, as those penis pump devices only require one hand to maintain the cylinder’s position over the penis during pumping. Hand operated penis pump devices require two hands for control, one actively pumping the vacuum of the penis pump while the other holds the cylinder in place. Over time, patients who perform Kegel for men exercises may find they have more body control over the penis pump and have to exert a little less hand control to hold the penis pump in place.
Using the Penis Pump
Before using the penis pump for the first time, many patients find it helpful to spend some time in a session with their doctor to learn how to use a penis pump properly and for maximum benefit. Although some people may find this uncomfortable at first, once use of the penis pump is accepted as a quality medical means to improvement of sexual function, such a visit can be quite encouraging and facilitates less frustrating use with the man’s partner.
Most men find that trimmed pubic hair or a shaved genital region enables more efficient use of the penis pump and a better seal between the body and the penis pump cylinder. A penis pump requires about 10 to 20 minutes of effort before a full, usable erection results. Some men find this inconvenient or frustrating. However, given other options and their associated side effects, costs and limitations of use, the penis pump is actually a good alternative that can be easily integrated into healthy sexual activity.
At a time when sexual activity is desired, the man must apply water soluble jelly to the base of his penis. The jelly helps create an air-tight seal around the edge of the penis pump and prevents air from seeping into the penis pump cylinder. The action also maintains negative pressure in the chamber, as a result.
After the jelly is applied and the cylinder is placed over the penile shaft, the man must hold the penis pump tightly against his body at the pubic bone. The penis pump is then in place and ready for pumping. Whether by hand or through battery mechanism, slow generation of the vacuum ensures a controlled buildup of pressure in the cylinder, thus preventing penile pain. Pumping too fast will likely cause such pain.
Double pumping is a technique where the vacuum is created and then pumping is gently released for some time. Pumping then begins again and is reduced for a moment. This cycle is repeated until a full erection is achieved. Doing so is preferred by some men to improve the comfort level of the penis pump action, particularly when they are new to using a penis pump. As the man learns more about how his body reacts to the penis pump and where his comfort level is with the device, he can then better determine whether double pumping is necessary or desirable.
Once the penis pump has developed a fully erect penis, a constriction band placed at the base of the penis creates a sort of artificial valve to maintain blood flow.
There is some practice required to determine which constriction ring is the right size, shape and tension level for each man. When the right size, shape and tension are discovered, the ring should be both comfortable and easily applied.
As soon as the constriction ring is placed on the penis properly, the penis pump cylinder can be removed from the penis and sexual activity can begin. Most manufacturers of medically approved penis pumps recommend that the constriction ring is removed from the penis no later than 30 minutes following application. In essence, this gives the penis pump user a half hour of sexual activity time with the pumped and erect penis.
Who Can and Cannot Safely Use a Penis Pump?
Men with erectile dysfunction are candidates for use of a penis pump. Most men can safely use one of these devices without health concern. There are several conditions as part of which doctors recommend caution when using a penis pump. A physician should be asked about use of a penis pump by patients with these conditions:
• The penis pump user has a history of bleeding disorders
• Blood thinner medications are taken by the user
• Penile sensation has been reduced or lost before use of a penis pump
• The penis is significantly curved
• There is a history of prolonged erection by the penis pump user
Some patients on anticoagulant therapy develop severe bruising and swelling on the penis when using the penis pump. This is often due to the constriction ring causing rupture of superficial veins on the penis shaft. Because of this risk and other factors, it is usually better for patients with bleeding disorders to considered other erectile dysfunction treatments than a penis pump.
Patients of spinal cord injury are at greater risk than others, when using a penis pump. This is because the sensation of feeling is very important as part of use of the constriction band. If men with spinal cord injury use a penis pump, the constriction band should not be left on for very long and should apply the ring with extreme caution.
Peyronie’s disease patients, those with penile curvature and associated symptoms of this disease, should not use a penis pump if they have significant penile curve. This is also true of men with congenital curvature of the penis. A penis pump can provide too much stress on the curving penis, resulting in more trauma.
Individuals with sickle cell anemia, thalassemia or leukemia should never use a penis pump.
A penis pump is generally a safe device for successful and noninvasive treatment of erectile dysfunction. Most health insurance plans help provide for reduction in the penis pump cost to patients. Best of all, any changes to the penis due to use of a penis pump are almost immediately reversible when the constriction band is removed. This short term effect allows the user of a penis pump to stop use without any side effects or negative impact to the body, unlike surgery or other treatments.
Common Side Effects of Penis Pump Use
Some bruising, penile pain and skin breakdown is possible with use of a penis pump, primarily due to application of the constriction ring. Constriction band tightness can also cause orgasms to occur without ejaculation. Penile numbness, although temporary, is also sometimes experienced.
If the constriction ring is not applied properly close to the body, the result of penis pump use may be a partial erection. Because the ring is the point where blood flow is restricted and the erection is held, the part of the penis beneath the ring will remain soft. Thus, point of ring application is key.
Results of Penis Pump Use
Most patients and their partners express satisfaction about use of a penis pump for erectile dysfunction. Penis pumps have some light side effect risk and can be seen as slightly inconvenient. However, considering alternative options, a penis pump is an easy solution to erectile dysfunction, which most often results in erection rigidity improvement, a boost in sexual activity frequency, and greater sexual satisfaction for both partners.