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Vacuum Devices for Erectile Dysfunction

A vacuum device improves firmness by increasing blood flow to the penis. About 80% of men who use the device correctly obtain an erection hard enough for sexual intercourse.

Vacuum devices are frequently used for penis rehabilitation, especially after prostate surgery.  Your doctor will instruct you on a regimen that is designed to restore normal blood flow to the penis so you can achieve a spontaneous erection. It may take several months to see results.

Vacuum erection devices (VED), also called vacuum constriction devices (VCD), are made of three parts:

  • A clear, plastic tube (cylinder) that slides over the penis
  • A manual or battery-operated pump that sucks air out of the cylinder, sending more blood to the penis
  • An elastic ring that is placed around the base of the penis after an erection is obtained; the rubber band-like ring helps maintain firmness by preventing blood from leaking out of the penis. The ring comes in different sizes for an individual fit. (This is especially helpful in men with veinous leak syndrome.)

A vacuum device can be cumbersome and interfere with a man's ability for sexual spontaneity. The elastic ring may lead to skin irritation, bruising, loss of feeling or sensitivity, or pain.

Vacuum devices are available with or without a prescription. Talk to your doctor before buying or using a vacuum device purchased without a prescription.

Surgery for Erectile Dysfunction

If all other treatments for erectile dysfunction have failed, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is usually only done if you have severe erectile dysfunction and no response from nonsurgical treatments.

Erectile dysfunction surgery falls into two categories:

  • Placement of an implant (prosthesis) in the penis
  • Vascular reconstruction surgery to improve blood flow to or reduce blood leakage from the penis and surrounding structures; this procedure works in very few cases.

Implants, or prostheses, help restore firmness for many men with erectile dysfunction. There are two types of implants: malleable and inflatable.

  • Malleable implants are a pair of bendable rods placed inside the penis. You manually move your penis, and therefore rods, into a position suitable for intercourse. Such implants do not affect penis size.
  • Inflatable implants are a pair of tubes placed in the penis connected to a squeezable pump inside the scrotum. You squeeze the pump to get an erection. Inflatable implants can also help slightly increase length and width.
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