A penis pump is one of a few nonmedicated treatment options available for erectile dysfunction (ED). ED makes it difficult to maintain an erection for long enough to engage in sexual activity.
ED is common, and the risk of developing the condition increases with age.
According to a review article in the International Journal of Endocrinology, ED affects around 5% of men over the age of 40 and around 15% of men over the age of 70.
However, ED can occur at any age, and sometimes as a result of another condition.
A penis pump consists of a plastic tube, a hand- or battery-operated pump, and a constriction ring for the base of the penis. The device is a safe and effective alternative to medications and more invasive procedures.
Keep reading to learn more about penis pumps, including safety considerations and how to use them.
Using a penis pump can help a man get and maintain an erection.
The device achieves this by creating a vacuum around the penis, which encourages blood to flow into it.
Once erect, a man can place a constriction ring over the base of their penis. This helps keep the blood inside.
Most people consider penis pumps easy to use. The following steps outline how to use one:
- Step 1: Though this is not required, some men may want to shave the pubic hair around the base of their penis. This helps prevent the ring from getting caught in the hair.
- Step 2: Insert the penis into the plastic tube.
- Step 3: Use the pump to create a vacuum inside the tube. Depending on the device, the pump may be manual or motorized. The vacuum brings blood into the penis.
- Step 4: Once erect, place the constriction ring around the base of the penis. This helps maintain the erection by keeping blood inside the penis.
- Step 5: Remove the penis from the tube.
This should result in an erection that lasts long enough for the man to have sex. They and their partner can decide whether they want to use the pump prior to foreplay or just before penetration.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that using a penis pump can enlarge the size of the penis. Any such claims are purely anecdotal.
In fact, those who try to use a penis pump for this purpose may injure their penis.
Most healthcare professionals consider penis pumps a safe and effective treatment for ED. Men can use a penis pump as often as they are able to tolerate it throughout the day.
For some, this may be once per day, whereas for others, this might be several times per day.
However, there are some risks and drawbacks to consider. These include:
- Pain or bruising: Incorrect use of a penis pump can result in bruising and other painful injuries to the penis.
- Burst blood vessels: Small red dots, or petechiae, may appear under the skin of the penis.
- Skin numbness, tingling, or discoloration: These symptoms may indicate that the constriction ring is too tight. Using a larger ring should help alleviate the pressure.
- Unnatural feeling erections: Some users report that their erections do not feel natural or spontaneous when using a penis pump.
- Lack of firmness: This is often most noticeable at the base of the penis.
- Feeling of trapped semen or painful ejaculation: A small cutout in the constriction ring can help reduce these symptoms.
- Psychological effects: Having to stop to use a penis pump before sexual activity may ruin the mood for some couples. Some people may also feel awkward or embarrassed about using a penis pump before sexual activity.
Men with blood clotting disorders and those who take blood thinners should speak to their doctor before using a penis pump, as these conditions and medications can increase the risk of internal bleeding when using the device.
Penis pumps are available over the counter, online, and in many specialist stores. However, it is important to note that many of these pumps do not have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. For this reason, the risk of injury or ineffectiveness due to incorrect use may be higher.
One safety feature to look for in a penis pump is a vacuum limiter. This stops the vacuum pressure from becoming too strong and injuring the penis.
The constriction ring is another consideration. Using a ring that is too tight can be uncomfortable, and using a ring that is too loose will be ineffective. It is important to determine what size works best.
One of the best ways to obtain a penis pump is by getting a prescription from a doctor. Having a prescription will ensure that a man receives an FDA approved ED treatment.
Additionally, most insurance companies will pay out for a prescribed penis pump. The amount someone pays toward the device will depend on their insurance plan coverage.
Although penis pumps are generally safe and effective, there are other treatments for ED that a man may wish to consider.
In fact, one advantage of penis pumps is that men can use them in combination with medications.
Other treatment options for ED include:
- Penile implants: A surgeon will insert tubes into the penis. These tubes inject small amounts of saline into the penis before sexual activity. A button behind the scrotum allows the man to inject the saline when necessary.
- Oral ED medications: Medications such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) can help stimulate an erection.
- Penile suppositories or injections: Men can insert these at the base of their penis to stimulate an erection.
Penis pumps are one of a few nonmedicated options for treating ED. Many people consider them safe to use. However, certain conditions and medications may predispose a man to internal bleeding when using a penis pump.
Men should talk to their doctor about their situation to determine whether or not a penis pump is right for them.
When selecting a penis pump, it is important to look for FDA approved pumps and ones that are designed to treat ED.
Never use pumps to try to increase the size of the penis. This will be ineffective and could result in injury to the penis.