Skip to content

Erectile Dysfunction Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Vacuum Devices for Erection Problems

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 camera.gif.

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.

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.

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

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

handsome midadult man
11 tips to protect your erection.
man and woman on beach
How much do you know about ED?
 
stress in bed
Things that can deflate erections.
senior couple hugging
How medications work.
 
concerned man
Article
stress in bed
Slideshow
 
Life Cycle of a Penis
Article
Mens Body Problem
Slideshow
 
bored man
Article
Lamm Erections Over Life
Video
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Article
senior couple hugging
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections