Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
Print    Email
Bookmark and Share

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information - Alternative Medicine

Search Health Information    Vacuum Devices for Erection Problems

Vacuum Devices for Erection Problems

Treatment Overview

A vacuum device, which is sometimes used to treat erection problems (erectile dysfunction), is a tube made of plastic that fits around the penis. You coat the base of the penis with lubricant and insert the penis into the tube. Air is pumped out of the tube, which creates a vacuum. The vacuum helps blood flow into the penis, producing an erection-like state in about 5 minutes. A constrictive band is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection, and the tube is removed.

See a picture of a vacuum device .

The constrictive band may be left in place for up to 30 minutes. If you want the erection to last longer, you may remove the band for a few minutes and then repeat the process.

Vacuum devices may block ejaculation. You can still have an orgasm but may not ejaculate (release semen).

Some men say the erection is "wobbly" or has a "hinge-like" feeling, since the tissues beneath the ring on the base of the penis don't get hard. A small number of men consider this a major problem, and it may make penetration difficult.

A prescription is not needed to buy these devices. They are reusable and should be cleaned after each use.

What To Expect After Treatment

The device usually produces an erection, which goes away when the constrictive band is removed.

Why It Is Done

Most men who have erection problems from physical causes can use vacuum devices. Men who have erection problems because of psychological causes may also use these devices.

How Well It Works

Between 6 and 9 out of 10 men who use a vacuum device say that they are able to get an erection that is satisfactory for sexual intercourse. 1

The vacuum device is less popular than other methods used for creating an erection. The number of men who are happy with the device ranges from 3 to 7 out of 10 men who use it. 1

Risks

The risk of side effects is low, and they are usually minor. Possible problems may include:

  • Bruising.
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Numbness or loss of sensitivity. This occurs sometimes in about half of men but is a major problem for only a few men.
  • A sensation that the penis is cold.
  • Pinching scrotal tissue in the device.

No significant side effects or complications have been reported.

What To Think About

Be sure to discuss using a vacuum device with your partner. It is important that both of you have realistic expectations of what the device can do. The vacuum device gives you an erection that may be suitable for sexual intercourse but is not the same as a normal erection.

The device can be difficult to learn to use, and about four tries are needed to learn to use it successfully.

Some men find the band around the base of the penis distracting or irritating during sex.

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.

References

Citations

  1. Burnett AL (2012). Evaluation and management of erectile dysfunction. In AJ Wein et al., eds., Campbell-Walsh Urology, 10th ed., vol. 1, pp. 721–748. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Last Revised May 14, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

© 2014 St. Mary's Health System   |  3700 Washington Avenue  |  Evansville, IN 47750  |  (812) 485-4000