Penis Pump - A Tribute to Male Ingenuity

The idea for penis pumps (a vacuum device to pump blood into the penis to achieve an erection) has been around for nearly 125 years, but the first workable model dates from an Augusta Georgia tyre shop in the 1960s.

When tyre technician and father-of-five Geddings Osbon was told by doctors he should just accept he was impotent, he decided to invent his own impotence aid, dubbed his Youth Equivalency Device, a vacuum that draws blood into the penis to create an erection that is then held in place with a ring at the base of the penis. 

The Osbon ErecAid established the basic principle for the thousands of penile pumps for erectile dysfunction which followed, and Geddings got FDA approval for his vacuum pump (also known as a vacuum constriction device or VCD) in the 1980s.

In the last 30 years many different models at different price levels have become available, but the penis pump or VCD kit is still basically simple; a plastic cylinder goes over the penis, the battery or manually powered pump is applied, and a band is then placed at the base of the penis to retain the erection.

The Challenge of Penis Pumps

 The penis pump is probably best for couples who are in a stable relationship and very positively committed to its use, because it is a challenge to integrate it into love making without disrupting the intimacy of the encounter.

The machinery can seem clunky and invasive; the manual pump can be awkward to operate and the battery powered pump can be quite noisy, so some couples use background music to drown out the pump sound.

Sex feels different too, because the penis is colder than with a normal erection(on average 1°C cooler) it can take on average 10 to 20 minutes for the penis to reach sufficient rigidity for sex and ejaculation is different because semen can feel “trapped”.  The erect penis swivels or rotates more than with a natural erection.

Penile pumps can also cause numbness and bruising, the erection may be painful because ejaculation is not the same as a normal orgasm, and you may have to shave the pubic area to get a good seal on the band device.

You may need the help of your partner to get it all lined up and working, especially if you have a beer pot to contend with.

For all of these reasons the penile pump of vacuum  erectile device (VED) only suits a small  group of men who cannot use oral erectile treatment (erection drugs or herbal supplements)  or who shy away from erectile injections.

How the Penile Pump Works

When the plastic cylinder is placed over the penis and the pump operated, a vacuum is created which draws blood up the penis. Once the penis is erect, a band is placed around the shaft and the vacuum is released.
 
The safest and best designed devices have a mechanism like a vacuum release valve which limits the amount of pressure applied to the penis to 200 – 250 mmHG to prevent penile injury.
 
Mail order devices known as “penis developers” may not have this safeguard and can cause permanent damage.
 
Manual pumps require two hands to operate - one to hold the plastic cylinder in place and one to pump – and may not be suitable for men with poor dexterity say from Parkinson’s disease or arthritis.
 
Battery powered pumps can be operated with one hand because the trigger mechanism is at the top of the cylinder so you can hold it in place and operate the pump at the same time.

Technique For Using Penile Pumps

  • Apply water soluble jelly to the base of the penis to help create a water tight seal to prevent air seeping into the chamber
  • (You may need to trim public hair to help maintain this seal)
  • Place cylinder over penis and hold firmly against the public bone and activate pump
  • Many men find the “double pumping” technique increases comfort levels. This involves letting some negative pressure off, waiting and then repeating. This gives you a chance to get used to the feel of the compression and develop tolerance for the pressure needed for an erection.
  • Apply the constriction ring or band once erection is achieved. This acts as an artificial valve and most manufacturers suggest it should not be left in place for any longer than 30 minutes. (The band also reduces the amount of semen released).
  • Remove the plastic cylinder and have sex.

Men Who Should Not Use Penis Pumps

Although penis pumps are safe for most men, there are some potential risks:

  • You're at an increased risk of bleeding if you take blood-thinning medications —Like warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix) and some over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), or naproxen.
  • A penis pump may not be safe if you have sickle cell anaemia or another blood disorder that makes you susceptible to blood clots or bleeding.

Possible Side Effects of Penis Pumps

  • Pinpoint-sized red dots caused by bleeding under the surface of the skin of the penis (petechiae).
  • One study showed petechiae in 25% to 39% of men using the device.
  • Numbness, coldness or bluish-colored skin when the constriction band is in place.
  • Pain or bruising. Following tips and advice closely may help you avoid difficulties. One study showed pain occurred during the creation of the suction in 20% to 40 % of users or on ejaculation in 3% to 16% of cases.
  • Feeling of trapped semen. You may feel like your semen is trapped when you ejaculate, (because it is) or ejaculation may be painful. Some manufacturers make constriction rings with a small cutout that may help with this.

Satisfaction Rates with Penis Pumps

Despite the draw backs and a fairly high drop out rate, (around 30 per cent) men who get used to the vacuum pumps are happy with them and continue to use them.
 
One study showed of those who elected to use the device, 69% reported continued use for at least 2 years. Another showed an overall satisfaction rate was 68%.

However yet another study showed men clearly preferred less invasive forms of erectile treatment. When presented with a range of options, only 12% chose the vacuum erection device.
The commonest reasons for drop-out include inadequate rigidity, penile pain, failure to ejaculate and dissatisfaction with penile appearance and temperature.