Penis Pumps: What are They and How to Use Them

11 min read
Penis Pumps: What are They and How to Use Them

There are all kinds of myths and speculation surrounding penis pumps, and we'll look at a few of those later in this article, but before we get into those finer details, let's answer the questions we're asked the most: what are they, and do they work? 

A penis pump is a non-invasive, non-medical device used to treat erectile dysfunction. When used correctly, they offer a safe and effective alternative to oral medications and other more invasive ED treatment options.

With the proper precautions in place, using a penis pump is straightforward, safe, and can offer a great deal of relief to men experiencing various levels of erectile dysfunction. If you're looking for a treatment that has proven to help with erectile dysfunction, then yes, penis pumps work.

What is a penis pump?

A penis pump is a simple mechanical device designed to encourage blood flow into the penis, and, as it does, it helps men achieve, maintain, or enhance their erection.

A penis pump consists of a plastic tube, an airtight seal, and a manual or powered vacuum device.

Whatever you want to call them, they're all designed to increase pressure on the blood vessels that help maintain and enhance an erection.

With the plastic tube fitted over the penis, the pump removes air, creating an airtight vacuum. This additional pressure encourages blood flow, filling the blood vessels required to swell the penis.

Penis pumps are known by various names, but they all do the same job: vacuum pump, vacuum erection device, hand pump, or battery-powered pumps—and their formal medical name, the vacuum constriction device.

Whatever you want to call them, they're all designed to increase pressure on the blood vessels that help maintain and enhance an erection.

Why do people use penis pumps?

Under the common misconception of what a penis pump can achieve, men will often have their first encounter with a penis pump trying to encourage permanent growth in the size of their penis. Sadly for them, short of surgery, there isn't a tool or device that will facilitate the kind of results they hope for.

Penis pumps deliver temporary improvement to the quality of erections.

In other words, penis pumps help men get erections who can't achieve them naturally, or provide stronger, firmer erections than they could without one.

Why would they need that? For many men, health conditions and aging can reduce the quality of erections, leading to problems with their sex life, ego, and relationships. Failing to achieve the level of erection they're used to can cause embarrassment and shame and lead to more serious relationship issues. Finding a solution to those problems can help significantly, resulting in healthier sex and happier relationships.

Combatting erectile dysfunction

Current statistics show that around 5% of men suffer from complete ED at age 40, rising to 15% at 70. However, the problem is more common than those figures suggest, with 40% of men affected by some level of ED at 40 and up to 70% of men by 70.

And it's not just a problem for older generations; erectile dysfunction can occur at any age for various reasons and under various conditions.

  • Side effects of medications
  • Mental health issues
  • Reactions to genital or pelvic surgeries
  • Other underlying health conditions

Whatever the situation, the risks increase as the older men get. However, with various treatment options available, most men can continue to enjoy a regular and fulfilling sex life.

Alternative treatments for erectile dysfunction

A penis pump isn't the only treatment option for erection problems. There are medications that have become household names, suppositories or injections the user can administer, and even implants for those who require a permanent, more invasive solution.

  • Oral medications – Sildenafil and tadalafil (Viagra and Cialis by brand name) encourage blood flow to achieve an erection around 20 to 30 minutes after taking.
  • Penile suppositories and injections – Users can self-inject a drug at the base of their penis using a very fine needle. Alternatively, a suppository is a tiny drug that dissolves on the head of the penis to induce an erection.
  • Penile implants – A penile implant is activated by a small button under the skin, where a surgically inserted rod is inflated with saline to achieve a mechanical erection.

Another advantage to the penis pump is that it can be used with prescribed ED medications and other treatments.

What are the benefits of a penis pump?

While a penis pump doesn't cure erectile dysfunction and may not help in the most severe cases, they consistently help many men with varying degrees of ED problems.

Other benefits include:

  • Increasing and maintaining the quality of a natural erection
  • Increasing blood flow to the penis
  • Improved confidence and sexual performance
  • Erection support after radiation therapy, cancer surgery, or other treatments
  • Penis pumps can offer a long-term, cost-effective alternative to erectile dysfunction medications

People with severe erectile dysfunction should seek medical advice before engaging with treatment options. Although penis pumps are perfectly safe for the majority, there are situations where they could cause problems. We'll look into those and their effects a little further into this article.

How to properly use a penis pump

Each pump will have its own detailed instructions, ensuring optimum results safely and comfortably. Using your penis pump should feel comfortable. If at any point it does feel uncomfortable, you should stop immediately. Incorrect use of your vacuum pump could potentially injure your penis, so always show the correct amount of care.

How do penis pumps work?

As an introductory guide, the following instructions apply to almost all makes and models:

  1. Apply a suitable lubricant to the sleeve at the base of the pump. Water-based lubricants are the safest; petroleum or oil-based options often break down silicon and other plastics.
  2. Place the vacuum tube over the penis. The fit should be snug and airtight. Many men choose to shave the pubic hair around the contact area to achieve the best seal.
  3. Using the electric or hand pump, remove air from the vacuum cylinder to encourage blood flow. Most pumps feature a pressure gauge or vacuum limiter to prevent over pumping and ensure the user doesn't exceed the safe levels of operation.
  4. Once an erection is achieved, the tube can be removed. The pump should have a release valve to drop the pressure back to normal, making sliding the vacuum tube from the penis feel natural.
  5. To help maintain an erection, the user can fit a constriction ring around the base of the penis shaft. This helps keep the blood in place, maintaining the enhanced erection for as long as possible.

Should I use a penis ring?

Using a constriction ring—or penis ring—can help extend the time and quality of an erection. A penis ring is a rubber ring designed to fit around the base of the penis, next to the pelvis. A well-fitting constriction ring is another perfectly safe tool that helps keep the blood where it needs to be.

Again, safety is paramount, so you shouldn't wear penis rings for longer than 30 minutes, nor should they be too tight. If you suffer any bruising, numbness, or tissue damage, the fit isn't right, and you should replace the ring with a correct-fitting alternative.

Too loose and it won't work; too tight and it can cause serious issues

Another issue with a too-tight penis ring is that it may cause trapped semen or painful ejaculation. Again, a better fitting ring or a suitably positioned small cutout can help rectify these issues.

On a final note, users shouldn't wear a penis ring while using a penis pump as it restricts blood from entering the penis, preventing the pump from doing the work it's designed for.

Myths and truths about penis pumps

Most of the myths around penis pumps are likely to have begun around the novelty versions available in the less reputable sex shops.

The biggest of the myths is that a penis pump can permanently increase the size of your penis. As mentioned at the top of the post, the only method that can guarantee such a result is surgery.

Penis pumps can bring a lot of pleasure, even when there isn't a problem

Another myth is that they're purely used for combatting erectile dysfunction. Many single men and couples use a penis pump as part of sex play. Enjoying the boost in size a penis pump delivers, or simply watching the growth as it happens, can add to the excitement of sex play.

Are penis pumps safe? What are the risks?

When used correctly, using a penis pump is a safe way to combat erectile dysfunction and enhance sexual pleasure. However, there are situations where using a penis pump isn't advisable.

When shouldn't I use a penis pump?

There are certain conditions where it's potentially dangerous to use a penis pump. If you fall into any of the following categories, you should seek advice from a healthcare professional before considering using one.

  • People who take blood-thinning medications or other blood thinners (e.g., warfarin/Coumadin).
  • People who experience or have experienced bleeding issues or blood clots.
  • Anyone with an underlying blood disorder (e.g., sickle cell anemia).
  • If there is any mild bleeding underneath the skin during use or small red spots on the penis (petechiae).

How long can I use a penis pump?

The recommended limit for any vacuum erection device is 30 minutes. After that, the frequency of use is down to the individual. As long as you take reasonable breaks between sessions and show no sign of bruising, pain, or discomfort, you're free to enjoy the benefits as often as you see fit.

Is there any side effect to pumping?

Each user will have a different routine and see different effects from their vacuum device. Under correct use, there isn't much to go wrong. Occasionally, some men notice unnatural feeling erections or erections that aren't as firm at the base of the penis.

If you notice anything that doesn't look or feel as it should, you should stop using your vacuum devices until everything goes back to normal and your doctor has given you the go-ahead.

Too much pressure inside the penis pump can injure your penis. Always follow the detailed instructions of your model, ensuring the vacuum inside the tube remains at safe levels. Severe damage to your penis may be irreparable or require surgery to rectify.

Penis pumps FAQs

"Should I shave my pubic hair?" "How well do they treat ED?" "Is the vacuum pressure dangerous?" "Are there different sized constriction rings?"

There are so many questions surrounding penis pumps we couldn't possibly answer them all. So instead, here are some of the most frequently asked and the ones that we think offer the most valuable information.

What to look for when choosing a penis pump?

There are three main areas to concentrate on when choosing a penis pump. They are equally important and should feature in your ideal choice: safety, quality, and comfort.

Generally, a high-quality penis pump will include the safety features you need, so those two elements usually come hand in hand. Ensuring a pump operates to its optimum requires a snug, comfortable fit, which demands the ring seal around the base of your penis is the correct size for you.

Safety

To ensure safe operation, penis pumps require a vacuum limiter, a quick release valve, and an air gauge for monitoring the pressure around your penis.

Too much pressure can stress the blood vessels in your penis and draw blood in a worst-case scenario. Burst blood vessels appear as small red dots, or you could suffer numbness, tingling, or discoloration.

When treating erectile dysfunction, we'd suggest consulting healthcare professionals or your doctor for advice and recommendations. Medically reviewed options can offer peace of mind and ensure you own the best choice for your situation.

Quality

When you buy anything that impacts your most important assets, especially your health, cutting corners should never be an option. When it comes to your physical performance, sex life, and relationship quality, it's essential to choose a tool that will safely deliver the results you need.

A high-quality penis pump has been built to exact standards achieved through thorough research. As well as delivering premium results, they'll be constructed from top-grade materials to industry standards.

Size and fit

A penis pump should feel comfortable with a tight, but snug fit around the base of the penis. It needs to be snug enough to be airtight but not so tight that it's uncomfortable. Ensuring the correct size and fit will deliver the best results, so finding the right model with the ideal fit for your penis is paramount.

Different types of penis pump

  • Manual penis pumps – You control the pump by squeezing a rubber bulb to change the pressure in the plastic tube. Manual penis pumps tend to be cheaper and quieter than their electric counterparts.
  • Electric penis pumps – These battery-operated pumps remove the need for manual operation and work with a touch-button controller.
  • Water or hydro penis pumps – These pumps use water instead of air to apply the pressure around your penis. They provide a different sensation to air-based penis pumps and are often used for pleasure as well as to improve erection quality.

Will a penis pump help if I've had my prostate removed?

A penis pump is one recommended treatment that can help men achieve an erection again after prostate surgery. Recovery times vary, so patience is paramount, as is understanding how to get the best results in your unique situation.

Our bodies all have their quirks and operate in their own way, so what works for one might not be an immediate solution for another. With that in mind, seeking a healthcare professional's advice is essential, or alternatively, seeking information from support groups for men in the same or similar recoveries.

Are penis pumps medical devices? And do I need a prescription to use one?

A doctor can prescribe a penis pump as part of erectile dysfunction treatment. These pumps are FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved and available from pharmacies. However, there are many excellent penis pumps available over the counter from specialist health stores and sex outlets.

You don't need a prescription to use a penis pump; neither do you need to suffer from any specific medical complaint to enjoy their benefits. Treating ED is only one use for penis pumps; there are all kinds of fringe benefits and ways to enjoy the feelings and results they bring.

What is the best way clean and care for my pump?

One risk we haven't mentioned so far is infection. If you don't take the correct care of your penis pump when cleaning and storing, bacteria can become a problem and infect your penis.

Each model will include complete care and cleaning instructions, depending on the materials and operation. To keep yourself safe and infection-free, you must follow them to the last detail.

Most will suggest thorough cleaning with warm soapy water. Others will recommend specialist cleaning materials designed for sex toys and tools. You should always clean them immediately after use and sanitize them once a week. A mild soap is ideal for sensitive skin, and during your cleaning regime, you shouldn't forget the rings, tubes, and any extra components you use with them.

I am a beginner; what pump should I start with?

It depends on why you've decided to use one.

If you're looking to treat erectile dysfunction, then advice from your doctor can help guide you.

On the other hand, if it's to experiment with the benefits they bring to your relationship or solo pleasure, then it might be better to explore customer and industry-expert reviews on the various pump types and models. That way, you'll better understand the features and functions you'd like to experience.

So, what have we learned about penis pumps?

Whether you're recovering from surgery or have lost your ability to get an erection as easily as you once did, a penis pump is a proven, non-invasive treatment to help recover the situation. Although they don't often offer a long-term cure, they provide a lasting remedy that allows thousands of men to enjoy the sex they desire and deserve.

There's nothing to be ashamed of when picking out and using a penis pump; it can bring about a significant confidence boost, combatting and overcoming one of the leading anxieties men face in the bedroom.

Penis pumps are a legitimate way to enjoy sex the way you want, whether building up something that's not working quite as it should or opening relationships to new levels of intimacy and taking your experiences to new heights.

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