Penis Pumps for Erectile Dysfunction – How Do They Work?

11.05.2023 - Vertica® experts

A penis vacuum pump, also known as a Vacuum Erection Device (VED), is a mechanical device, designed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Various types of vacuum pumps have been in use for over a century, and it was the physician John King who first indicated them in the late 19th century for the treatment of impotence. However, in their modern form, VEDs have gained popularity only over the past twenty years. A number of medical device companies developed specially-designed vacuum erection pumps and only these types of devices are approved for use by the relevant health authorities. This is because such VEDs are carefully constructed to allow a limited amount of pressure to gradually develop, so as to reduce the likelihood of pressure-induced penile injury.



A Penis Pump – What is It and How does It Work?

To begin with, whenever men hear the term ‘penis pump’ they normally assume it relates to a penis enlargement device, and they often purchase it for that reason. However, a penis pump is neither designed for nor can it make the penis larger. It is a device that can temporarily help a man achieve an erection in circumstances in which blood flow to the penis is impeded, such as when the arteries are narrowed due to various health problems. Using a pump may likewise help temporarily if the erectile tissue responsible for trapping the blood within the penis becomes floppy, and blood thus escapes from the organ during erection (this is a common age-related condition called ‘venous leakage’).

A wide range of devices exists – all working on the same principle of creating a vacuum to achieve a rigid erection. They comprise a clear plastic cylinder with an opening at one end which is placed over the penile shaft. At the other end of the cylinder, a pump mechanism generates negative pressure inside the device. The premise of a penis pump is that the vacuum suctions blood into the penis to help achieve and maintain an erection. Although the use of a penis pump does not cure impotence, it can certainly improve the quality of erections and the sex life of men coping with the problem.

The pump mechanism can be either electric, manual or battery-operated. A manual mechanism requires both hands – one on the pump handle, and the other on the cylinder to steady it. In electric and battery-operated devices, the mechanism is located on the top end of the cylinder and with one hand it is possible to simultaneously activate the pump and steady the cylinder. This makes it easier for use by men with medical problems such as arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

A penis pump is used with a special elastic rubber band, which is placed at the base of the penis to prevent blood leakage from the organ once the pump has been removed. The band must remain on throughout the sexual act, but no more than 30 minutes, as anything longer can cause  penile injury.

Sometimes several attempts are needed to acquire manual dexterity and technique. However, within a few weeks most men are able to achieve an erection using the pump and to have satisfactory intercourse.


The Benefits of Using a Penis Pump

Penis pumps usually constitute an effective solution for men with ED. According to a research review published in the Journal of Urology, 11 studies involving the use of penis pumps by people with ED reported 60% satisfaction rates or higher, and 6 studies reported 80% rates or higher. Additionally, the device is easy to use, is not invasive and is drug-free (although a pump can be used together with ED medications).


Disadvantages of a Penis Pump

Along with their advantages, vacuum pumps are not novel technology, they have been in use for over a hundred years and using them each time prior to intercourse can be cumbersome, burdensome and even undermine spontaneity. The penis might feel cold and sometimes band narrowing can cause pain. Apart for that, using a pump does not cure the problem and occasionally there are side effects such as: petechiae – tiny skin spots caused by ruptured capillaries, bruises, urethral bleeding, hematomas (blood spots due to ruptured vessels), penis instability which makes penetration more difficult (especially for older men), pain and difficulty ejaculating (due to swelling around the urethra), penile numbness with orgasms more difficult to achieve.

Long term overuse can cause scar tissue formation, the penis may feel spongy rather than hard and permanent numbness may develop. Overusing the elastic band can cause nerve injury that worsens ED, thus men must never fall asleep with the band on, especially if they have taken ED drugs.


Who Can Not Use a Penis Pump?

The use of a penis pump is contra-indicated in certain circumstances, such as: blood coagulation problems (hyper-coagulation or hemophilia) and a medical condition called ischemic priapism (recurrent abnormally prolonged erections). Men taking blood thinning medications like warfarin or Plavix must consult a physician before commencing treatment with a penis pump.


Choosing the Right Device

There are penis pumps available for purchase online or in sex shops which have not been tested for safety and can expose the penis to excess pressures or to parts that have not been well processed and are unsmooth. These instruments might be dangerous and they have not been approved by the health authorities. Men with erectile dysfunction are advised to consult a physician and purchase a Vacuum Erection Device specifically designed for treating ED, with a safety pop-off valve (to limit the level of pressure within the cylinder), approved for use as a medical device by the Ministry of Health.


It is noteworthy, that today there are medical devices utilizing novel technologies for the treatment of ED, including home use devices that treat the root cause (i.e., improving penile blood flow and trapping the blood in the erectile bodies). Their use does not undermine spontaneity, is painless and has no side effects. To read about Vertica, the RF technology based medical device for treating ED at home >>



The Company hereby clarifies that the information contained on the website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical and healthcare advice, and does not constitute medical advice or opinion. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any medical condition or question you may have regarding a medical condition.

× How can I help you? Available from 09:00 to 17:30 Available on SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday