What Is a Vacuum Erection Device, and How Does It Work?
A vacuum erection device is a tool that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can use to get an erection. It is an external cylindrical pump with a constriction band on the end that is placed on the penis and activated either by being pumped by hand or powered by batteries.
Activating the device while it is on the penis creates a vacuum by pulling the air out of the cylinder. This draws blood into the penis and creates an erection. The constriction band is then moved to the base of the penis to help keep the erection firm.
A vacuum erection device can be used by following these simple steps:
- Place the vacuum erection device over the penis and activate the device by turning it on or pumping it by hand.
- As the air is pulled out of the tube, blood is drawn into the penis to create an erection.
- Once the penis is erect, use a personal lubricant to help slide the constriction band off the end of the vacuum erection device and onto the base of the penile shaft. The constriction band will keep blood from flowing back out of the penis, thereby keeping the erection firm.
- Remove the vacuum erection device from the penis.
- When the erection is no longer needed, remove the constriction band from the base of the penis, and the penis will return to its flaccid state. Some health care professionals suggest wearing the constriction band for a maximum of 30 minutes, but talk to your health care provider about what is best for you.
Overall, vacuum erection devices are safe and can be used by people who experience ED for a variety of different reasons including poor blood flow to the penis, diabetes, nerve damage, heart disease, venous leakage, and surgeries that contribute to ED such as surgery for prostate cancer. Nevertheless, it is important to talk to your health care provider before using a vacuum erection device if you have a bleeding disorder, sickle cell disease, a condition that may cause priapism (an unwanted, long-lasting erection), or if you are taking blood thinning medications.
This treatment for ED can cause some side effects such as minor bruising on the penis and decreased or absent ejaculation. It is also important to note that erections achieved by vacuum erection devices are different than natural erections. Since there is no active blood flow in the penis, the penis may be cool to the touch and lightly purplish or bluish in color. To warm the penis before sexual activity, some suggest using a warm compress.
Vacuum erection devices can be successfully used in combination with intracavernosal injections or oral medications (PDE5 inhibitors) in patients who are partially responding to those treatments. If you are experiencing ED and you think that a vacuum erection device may be a good fit for you, talk to your health care provider.
- Bandukwala, N.Q. (2021, September 9). Erectile Dysfunction: Vacuum Constriction Devices. https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/vacuum-constriction-devices
- Cleveland Clinic. (2020, November 30). Vacuum Constriction Devices. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/10053-vacuum-constriction-devices
- (2022, January 17). Vacuum erectile devices for erection problems. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000985.htm