For men who don't want to use oral or self-injected drugs, vacuum pump devices (or vacuum constriction devices) are a non-drug alternative to help with erection problems following treatment for prostate cancer.
Generally, a man uses a special jelly that is applied around the base of the penis to create a “seal.” Trimming the pubic hair also may help make it easier to create this seal.
While either type requires some practice, the manual type may be a bit trickier because a man needs to use one hand to pump and another hand to hold the cylinder in the right position.
It also may take some time to master the right pumping action (not too slow or too fast). Some men may need to:
The pumping action causes blood to be drawn into the penis. Once the erection is achieved (which may take 10 to 20 minutes), a band called a constriction ring is placed around the base of the penis to help maintain the erection.
It may take some experimentation to find the right-sized band with the right amount of tension. Once the band is in place, the cylinder can be removed for lovemaking. Generally, the band should remain in place for no more than 30 minutes to prevent injury.
Tip: A battery-operated device may be easier for some men to use.
Studies have shown that vacuum pump devices can be successful for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) following radical prostatectomy, especially when they are used together with medications for ED. The two appear to work together synergistically to aid penile rehabilitation.
If you type “vacuum pump devices for erection problems” in your Web browser, all kinds of mail-order products will come up. Before you buy, make sure that the device:
The reason a pop-off valve is needed is because a device that applies too much pressure can actually cause injury to the penis. Also check with your health insurance to see which products are covered.
Your loved one should also tell his doctor if he:
Always consult a medical professional.
Cornell University. Vacuum devices for erectile dysfunction. http://www.cornellurology.com/sexualmedicine/ed/vacuum.shtml. Accessed December 1, 2008.
Hoyland K, Vasdev N, Adshead MA. The use of vacuum erection devices in erectile dysfunction after radial prostatectomy. Rev Urol. 2013; 15(2):67-71.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Erectile Dysfunction. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/impotence. Accessed December 1, 2008.