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What is a Vacuum Erection Device?
A vacuum erection device is a treatment option for erectile dysfunction (the inability to get or maintain an erection). It is also used to help men with anxiety-based ED. The device consists of a plastic tube that fits over the penis, a manual or battery-operated pump attached to the tube, and a constriction ring or band that fits around the base of the penis once it gets erect.
A vacuum erection device is also called a penis pump, vacuum constriction device or vacuum pump.
How Does Vacuum Erection Device help in Erection?
- An erection involves an interaction of emotions, hormones, nerves, blood vessels, and smooth muscles.
- During sexual arousal, the nerve messages begin to stimulate the penis.
- Impulses from the brain and local nerves cause the muscles of the tube-like structure, called corpora cavernosa, to relax, allowing blood to flood in and fill the empty spaces.
- The blood causes pressure in the corpora cavernosa, creating an erection.
- The tunica albuginea (a band of fibrous tissue at the base of the penis) prevents the blood from escaping the corpora cavernosa, sustaining the erection.
- In people with erectile dysfunction, many conditions can interfere with these processes.
Who needs Vacuum Erection Device?
Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that can develop in older men or after prostate surgery. Other reasons for erectile dysfunction include:-
- Heart diseases
- Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome (a condition that involves increased blood pressure, high insulin levels and cholesterol, and body fat around the waist)
- Multiple sclerosis (a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system - the brain and spinal cord)
- Parkinson’s disease (nervous system disorder affecting movement)
- Peyronie’s disease (development of scar tissue inside the penis)
- Sleep disorders
- Low testosterone
- Injuries or surgeries that affect the pelvic area and the spinal cord
- Certain prescription medications
- Tobacco use
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
Your doctor may provide oral medication to treat erectile dysfunction or insert medications through the tip of your penis into the urethra. Other treatment options include penile injections and surgically placed penile implants.
However, if these treatments fail to work for you or cause certain side effects, a vacuum erection device might be a good treatment choice. These devices are commonly used to treat the causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), which include:-
- Poor blood flow to the penis
- The excess outflow of blood from the penis during erection
- Damage to the nerves that control the erection reflex
- Psychological issues such as depression or anxiety
What are Benefits of Vacuum Erection Device?
There are certain benefits of a vacuum erection device to treat erectile dysfunction, which include:-
- Vacuum pumps are effective.
- They have a lower risk of side effects and complications than other ED treatments.
- It costs less than other treatments.
- They are noninvasive, i.e., do not require surgery, penile injections, or insertion of medication into the tip of the penis.
- You can use this device with other treatments, such as penile implants or medications.
- They might restore your ability to get a natural erection.
How Can You Prepare for a Vacuum Erection Device?
- Depending on the condition, you may need to see a urologist (specialist in treating urinary and reproductive disorders) about erectile dysfunction.
- During the visit, the doctor may ask you certain questions about your health and symptoms, which include:-
- Illnesses you’ve had in the past or currently have
- Injuries or surgeries you’ve had, involving the penis, prostate or testicles
- Other erectile dysfunction treatments you’ve tried and their success rate
- Medications you take, including herbal supplements
- After asking you health-related questions, the doctor will conduct a physical exam to check your genitals and feel your pulse in the peripheral arteries.
- They may perform a DRE (digital rectal examination) to examine your prostate gland.
- The healthcare provider will insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel the rectum, prostate, and anus, checking for anything abnormal.
How to Choose a Vacuum Erection Device?
- While some vacuum erection devices are available without a prescription, it is best to talk to your doctor before purchasing one.
- Based on your needs, the doctor will recommend a specific model made by a reputable manufacturer.
- Ensure that the device you choose has a vacuum limiter that prevents the pressure from getting too high and injuring your penis.
- You should also check the size of the ring that fits around the base of your penis. The ring should be tight enough to work but not too tight to become uncomfortable.
- Note that the vacuum erection devices available online or in magazines may not be effective or safe.
- Choose the pump with a warranty so that the company replaces the pump if it is damaged or stops working.
- Before using the device, trim or shave the pubic hair near the base of the penis to avoid it getting caught in the ring.
How Does a Vacuum Erection Device Work?
To use the device, you need to follow a few simple steps:-
- Place the plastic tube of the pump over the penis.
- Use the hand pump or batter pump attached to the tube to create a vacuum inside the tube.
- The vacuum will draw blood into the shaft of the penis, causing it to swell and become erect.
- Once your penis is erect, use a lubricant to slip the constriction ring down to the base of the penis. The ring will help you maintain the erection by keeping the blood inside your penis.
- Remove the device.
The constriction ring can be kept on for upto 30 minutes, long enough to have successful intercourse. Do not leave on the ring for more than 30 minutes because cutting off the blood flow for too long can cause injury to your penis.
What are Risks of Vacuum Erection Device?
Although a vacuum erection device is mostly safe, it can cause increased bleeding in men who:-
- Take blood-thinning medications like warfarin and clopidogrel
- Have sickle cell anaemia
- Other blood disorders that cause bleeding or blood clots
- People suffering from priapism (a prolonged, sometime painful erection that lasts for several hours)
Potential side effects of using a vacuum erection device include:-
- Numbness or coldness
- Bluish-coloured skin
- Petechiae (pinpoint-sized red dots caused by bleeding under the penis’s skin surface)
- Bruising and swelling of the penis
- No ejaculation or painful ejaculation
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
Some other drawbacks of vacuum erection devices include:-
- Unnatural erections: An erection caused by a vacuum pump does not feel spontaneous or natural. You may even experience a lack of firmness at the base of the penis.
- Awkwardness: Using a vacuum pump may cause awkwardness for some time between you and your partner until you both get comfortable.
- Manual coordination: A vacuum pump requires using hands and fingers to operate, which can be difficult for some men.