• ED Shots
  • by Bradley Keys
  • February 22, 2024
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If you’re exploring treatments for erectile dysfunction, you may have come across penis pumps. But do they work? This article cuts through the confusion, offering a clear overview of these devices as a non-invasive solution for ED, without the fluff or hard sell.

Key Takeaways

  • Penis pumps, or vacuum erection devices, are primarily used to help men with erectile dysfunction achieve and sustain an erection by drawing blood into the penis, but are not intended for permanent penis enlargement.
  • Considered safe and cost-effective, pumping devices are less invasive and often have fewer side effects than other ED treatments, with the potential for insurance coverage and a high effectiveness rate of up to 90% in some cases.
  • Proper use, including preparation, operation, and maintenance of a penis pump is crucial to minimize risks and side effects, and a healthcare provider should be consulted for personalized instructions and to address underlying health concerns.

Understanding Penis Pumps

Illustration of a penis pump device

A penis pump, also called a vacuum erection device, is mainly used to assist men with erectile dysfunction in achieving and sustaining an erection. They can also work to increase size and girth over time. Penis pumps work by creating a vacuum around the penis, drawing blood into the organ to produce an erection. Vacuum erection devices, similar to vacuum erectile devices, create a vacuum that draws blood into the penis, facilitating the erection process.

Defining Penis Pumps

Grasping the operation of a penis pump is vital. These devices are designed to create a low-pressure vacuum to draw blood into the penis. This process results in an erection. After activating the pump, the resulting erection can last approximately 30 minutes, providing ample time for sexual intercourse.

Types and Styles

Illustration comparing manual and battery-operated penis pumps

These pumps come in two main types: manual and battery-operated. Manual versions are operated by hand, requiring physical labor to create vacuum pressure. They are generally more cost-effective and allow the user to control pressure using a squeeze bulb.

Battery-operated pumps, on the other hand, offer erections with minimal manual effort and often include digital control panels for pressure monitoring. These electric pumps, with both a battery powered pump attached and an electric pump attached, are suitable for those with limited hand strength or mobility issues, able to operate quickly within 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Benefits of Using

A hand pump provides numerous advantages, including:

  • Helping most men achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse, with effectiveness in up to 90% of cases
  • Being considered less risky compared to other treatments for erectile dysfunction
  • Having a lower likelihood of side effects or complications

This makes them a viable option for many men facing erectile dysfunction, a common form of male sexual dysfunction.

Non-Invasive Treatment

Being external devices, vacuum pumps provide a non-invasive treatment for erectile dysfunction. They do not require surgery, injections, or medication to be inserted into the penis, making them a preferable choice for those seeking a non-invasive approach. This non-invasive nature reduces the risk of infection and other surgery-related complications, making penis pumps a comfortable and safe alternative for many.


From a financial perspective, pumping is a very economical solution for treating erectile dysfunction. Compared to medications, penile injections, and surgery, a vacuum device presents a lower-cost treatment option. They can be a one-time purchase, in contrast to the ongoing costs of ED medications.

The purchase of a penis pump may even be covered by insurance, further enhancing its cost-effectiveness compared to recurring expenses for medications.

Proper Usage and Care

As with any medical device, the correct use and maintenance of a penis pump is essential for safety and effectiveness. Consulting a board-certified urologist for personalized instructions can help ensure the safe and correct use of a penis pump.

Preparing for Use

It is necessary to prepare before using a penis pump. Applying a lubricant to the shaft and base of the penis can create a seal for the pump and ease removal after use. It’s also advised to shave the pubic hair around the base of the penis to prevent the ring from getting caught in the hair.

Operating the Pump

Photo of a person operating a penis pump

There are several steps to using a penis pump. The pump creates a vacuum that draws blood into the penis, resulting in an erection by increasing blood flow through the blood vessels. After achieving an erection, a well-fitting constriction ring is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection.

This ring should not be left in place for more than 30 minutes to avoid harming the penis.

Maintenance and Storage

Taking care of a penis pump is an integral aspect of its maintenance. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Clean the pump after each use using warm soapy water with a mild soap suited for sensitive skin.
  2. Rinse the pump thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
  3. Allow the pump to dry naturally before storing it.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your penis pump, with its essential plastic tube, stays clean and in good condition for longer.

It should then be stored in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources to prevent material degradation, warping, or melting.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Although a vacuum pump is generally considered safe, incorrect usage may cause complications. Some potential side effects include:

  • Pinpoint-sized red dots appearing on the penis due to bleeding under the skin’s surface
  • Numbness
  • Coldness
  • Skin that appears bluish, especially if the constriction band is used inappropriately

Health Considerations

Certain health considerations should be kept in mind when using a penis pump. Men with a blood disorder, such as sickle cell anemia or a history of blood clots, should be cautious due to the risk of bleeding or clotting complications. Individuals with significant penile curvature or Peyronie’s Disease should also be aware of the potential risks of aggravating their condition through improper penis pump use.

Avoiding Overuse

It is necessary to avoid overusing vacuum therapy to prevent possible injuries. The tension ring of a penis pump should not be left in place for more than 30 minutes to avoid injuries due to prolonged cutoff of blood flow.

Overuse of vacuum devices can lead to swelling and potentially severe injury, making it crucial to follow safe usage guidelines and ensure safe operation of your vacuum device.

Debunking Myths: Penis Pumps and Enlargement

Despite some misconceptions, penis pumps are not designed for permanent enlargement or to address concerns about penis size. Any enlargement from a device is not permanent and typically lasts only for a short period post-use. There are protocols that exist to maintain gains though they require months to years of ongoing usage and patience.

Alternatives and Complementary Treatments

While penis pumps are a viable treatment for erectile dysfunction and to increase blood flow, they are not the only option. Other erectile dysfunction treatments include ED medications, testosterone replacement therapy, and lifestyle modifications, which can be used alongside or as alternatives to penis pumps.

When to Consult a Medical Professional

Before using a penis pump, it is vital to consult a healthcare provider and maintain regular check-ups to monitor for potential injuries or underlying health issues. A healthcare provider can provide a proper diagnosis and determine the reasons for erectile dysfunction before using a penis pump.


In conclusion, penis pumps offer a practical, non-invasive, and cost-effective solution for men dealing with erectile dysfunction. They can help achieve and maintain an erection, enhancing sexual confidence. However, it’s important to use them properly and consult a healthcare provider prior to use, especially for those with existing medical conditions. Remember, everyone’s journey with sexual health is unique – so explore your options, seek professional advice, and make the choice that’s right for you.

A penis pump works for size and erectile function in conjunction with the following modalities:

Questions and Answers

Penis pumps are generally safe for use, but it’s important to consult a healthcare provider before using one, especially if you have certain health conditions or penile curvature.

No, penis pumps do not permanently enlarge the penis; the enlargement is temporary and typically lasts only for a short period post-use.

You can use a penis pump as often as you feel comfortable, following proper usage guidelines and based on necessity. It’s important to prioritize individual comfort and safety.

Contact your insurance provider to inquire about coverage for a penis pump.

The potential side effects of using a penis pump include pinpoint-sized red dots, numbness, skin discoloration, and bruising. If you experience persistent side effects, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider.

About the Author

Bradley Keys
Bradley Keys

Bradley Keys is an accomplished writer who has covered a wide variety of health, nutrition, and wellness topics including mens health. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University, and has extensively explored a diverse range of subjects within the realms of health, wellness, and nutritional supplementation, showcasing a broad and in-depth understanding of these interconnected fields.

Reviewed By

Majid Sabour, MD
Majid Sabour, MD

Majid Sabour, MD, is the founder and medical director of Gent's Doctor mens clinic in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Sabour is board-certified in family medicine and provides exceptional anti-aging and wellness services that help patients in Los Angeles look and feel their best. With over 25 years of field experience, Dr. Sabour graduated from Zaporizhzhia State Medical University in Ukraine and completed a family medicine residency program with Columbia University and Cornell at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He is licensed in both New York and California.