Vacuum pump devices for
erection problems

They may take a little practice

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.


Advertisements


How do vacuum pump devices work?

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.

  • A clear plastic cylinder goes around the penis (and it is held firmly in place)
  • The device has a pump mechanism at one end that is used to pump out air to create a vacuum
  • The pump may be used by hand, or may be battery operated, depending upon the device

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:

  • Repeatedly pump
  • Release and wait
  • Pump again until they achieve an erection

The pumping action is key

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.

Advertisements


How well do they work?

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.

Many different styles are available 

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:

  • Has been tested
  • Is approved for use by the FDA
  • Has a pop-off valve for safety

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:

  • Is taking blood thinners (even baby aspirin)
  • Has diminished feeling in his penis
  • Has a history of priapism (erections that won’t go down)
  • Has a history of bleeding problems, as this may cause bruising or swelling
  • Has a curved penis (a vacuum pump device may not be appropriate)

Updated 7/14

Back to sex after prostate cancer
Return from vacuum pump devices to homepage

Discuss information from this website with a medical professional

References:

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.

Search site
Search site

Advertisements













This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.


prostate cancer blogs