ED Treatment: The Vaccuum Tumescence Pump or "Penis Pump"

by Justin Harmon, D.O. Health Professional

One non-pharmacologic remedy for erectile dysfunction is the penile vacuum tumescence pump or "penis pump." This device is sold in pharmacies and by prescription from your doctor. The pump is a cylindrical tube that is closed at one end. A pumping device, sometimes similar to the pump of a blood pressure cuff, is attached to the cylinder. The tube is placed over the penis and held firmly to the base of the penis. Pumping the device creates suction within the tube, thus drawing blood into the penis. A constriction band (rubber-band-like ring) is then placed at the base of the penis to prevent the blood from leaving.

There are obvious limitations to this treatment option. First, the process does take time and may interrupt the natural sexual interaction between the couple. Most often this device is given to men in stable relationships whose partner has a knowledge and understanding of the man's problem. It does, however, allow the patient, if successful, to avoid medical therapy. Another side effect of the treatment can be bruises that develop from the suction. This is caused by small blood vessels under the skin that break, causing a purplish or red appearance to the penile shaft (similar to a "black and blue" mark that you may get after bumping your knee on the coffee table).

The pump can also be sometimes used in conjunction with medicines. For example, let's say that a man is only getting a partial response to one of the oral medications (like Cialis or Viagra). This means that his erection is only semi-rigid. The man can use the vacuum tumescence pump after taking the pill along with the use of the constriction band to possibly achieve a more firm erection.

Justin Harmon, D.O.
Meet Our Writer
Justin Harmon, D.O.

Justin wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Erectile Dysfunction and Prostate Cancer. He is a practicing urologist in Pennsylvania.