How to Use a Penis Pump — How it Works, Where to Buy, & What to Avoid

A penis pump (sometimes called a penis vacuum) is used to induce an erection in people with erectile dysfunction (ED). 

They’re an effective alternative to medications like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, and offer more reliable action than herbal or nutritional supplements. Penis pumps are very safe, but only when used correctly — so learning the proper way to use it is important. 

In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of using a penis pump, how to use them safely, and which ones to avoid buying.

How a Penis Pump Works

A penis pump works by creating a vacuum (negative pressure) on the outside of the penis. This pulls blood into the penis to fill the space, which forms an erection. A rubber band is then placed at the base of the penis to prevent the blood from escaping. 

Over time, a penis pump can help men achieve more naturally-occurring erections. 

A penis pump consists of 3 parts: 

  1. A tube designed to fit over the penis
  2. A rubber seal that slips over the base of the penis
  3. A hand or battery-powered pump

The Pros & Cons of Using a Penis Pump

– They are effective for most men
– The treatment is non-invasive
– They can be used safely with other medications
– They bring less risk than other ED treatments
– They cost much less in the long run than ED medications, which are expensive
– The erection may feel ‘unnatural’
– Setting up to use the penis pump before sex can be awkward
– Erection may lack firmness around the base of the penis

Can a Penis Pump Increase the Size of My Penis?

Many penis pump manufacturers advertise these pumps as a way to increase the size of your penis — but there’s never been any proof that this works. 

Your penis size is locked in by the time you’re 19 years old, and will no longer continue to grow. 

A penis pump can be used to fill the penis with blood to achieve an erection, but in no way does the size of the penis change. Once the erection is gone, the penis returns to the same size it was before. 

Using a Penis Pump for Peyronie’s Disease

Peyronie’s disease is a condition involving a buildup of scar tissue or ‘plaque’ that interferes with the shape of the penis. Over time, the penis will start to curve, usually to one side or the other, but sometimes up or down. 

One of the most common treatments for Peyronie’s disease is a penis pump to help straighten the penis and reduce pain associated with the condition. 

A recent study investigating the effects of a penis pump for men with Peyronie’s disease found that using the pump twice a day for 10 minutes each was able to reduce the curvature in 90% of men taking part in the trial [2]. The device used in this study was the Osbon ErecAid®.

How Long Will An Erection Formed by a Penis Pump Last? 

The erection caused by a penis pump is only temporary. In most cases, you can expect the erection to last around 30 minutes, which is the maximum amount of time you can safely leave the rubber band around the base of the penis that prevents blood from leaving the penis. 

How Many Times Can I Use a Penis Pump in a Day? 

A penis pump can be used several times in a single day safely. The most important thing to remember is that you need to remove the rubber band at the base of the penis for at least a few minutes every half an hour to allow fresh blood to flow through the penis. 

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition where a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. It’s common at all ages but becomes more common as men get older. 

This condition affects roughly 40 percent of men over the age of 50 and the majority of men over the age of 70 [1].

The incidence of erectile dysfunction is increasing each year, along with an aging population. It’s estimated that by 2025, the worldwide diagnosis of erectile dysfunction will reach 322 million cases [2].

There are many causes for erectile dysfunction, including: 

  • Anxiety around sexual activity
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High estrogen levels
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Testosterone deficiencies

The Risks of Using a Penis Pump

Penis pumps are very safe, but only when used correctly. You can use a the pump often without any side effects. Many men will use a penis pump multiple times in a single day without any problems. 

Low-Quality Penis Pumps

Using low-quality pumps or bad form can cause pain, numbness, or petechiae — which are small bleeds in the surface layers of the penis that form small red dots. This is caused when too much air is removed from the tube. Always look for a penis pump with a vacuum limiter that prevents the air pressure inside the tube from getting too low. 

Prescription Blood Thinners

Another risk of using a penis pump comes from certain medications. For example, blood thinner medications like warfarin (Coumadin) can increase the chances of internal bleeding complications. 

Sickle Cell Anemia

The biggest risk of using a penis pump involves conditions such as sickle cell anemia. Using a penis pump if you have this condition can lead to dangerous blood clots and severe pain.

Side Effects of Using a Penis Pump

With proper form and a good quality pump, side effects are uncommon. However, side effects are still possible; here’s what you should look out for while using a penis pump. 

  • Petechiae (Small Red Dots) — caused by microbleeds under the surface of the skin
  • Numbness — may be a result of the constriction band at the base of the pump
  • Feeling of ‘trapped’ semen — some men feel like their ejaculate becomes trapped while using a penis pump, depending on the style of the constriction band
  • Pain — improper use of the penis pump can cause painful erections

Who Should Consider Using a Penis Pump? 

Penis pumps aren’t for everybody — they’re noninvasive and won’t interact with any of your other medications. This makes them useful for people who can’t use other ED treatments due to underlying health issues or medications. 

However, there are downsides to using a penis pump that can make them a poor option for some people. 

When to consider a penis pump: 

  • Severe erectile dysfunction
  • Erectile dysfunction that doesn’t respond to medications
  • People experiencing ED after prostate surgery or radiation therapy
  • People who prefer to avoid the use of prescription ED medications
  • Anybody taking medications that are contraindicated with ED pills
  • People with underlying medical conditions that prevent them from using ED pills

How to Choose a Penis Pump

You don’t need a prescription for a penis pump, but it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor first. Your doctor can help you decide whether a penis pump is the best option, or if there’s a better option. Your doctor may recommend a specific style or model depending on the underlying cause of your ED, or other factors. 

Not all penis pumps have been approved by the FDA, so getting a prescription for a specific model can ensure you’re getting a model that’s been proven safe and effective. 

You can order penis pumps at your local pharmacy with a prescription or buy them online from places like Amazon or online sex shops. 

Here are a few key points to consider when shopping for a penis pump online or in-store. 

Be Cautious When Buying Penis Pumps From Ads

Like most of the sexual performance space, the penis pump market is very unreliable. Many products that show up in magazines or website advertising are either ineffective or unsafe. 

It’s better to search for specific recommendations for penis pumps based on expert insight than it is to go off an ad you saw online. 

Always avoid penis pumps that are marketed for penis enlargement. This is not physically possible, and these pumps are almost always low-quality and potentially unsafe. 

Make Sure the Pump Has a Vacuum Limiter

A vacuum limiter is a small device that allows air to flow into the tube when the pressure drops too low. This is a very important safety mechanism to avoid causing damage or pain to the penis. 

You should never buy a penis pump that doesn’t have a vacuum limiter built-in.

Not All Pumps Will Fit Properly For Every Man

Penis pumps come in all different sizes. It’s crucial the pump can form a tight seal around the base of the penis in order to create negative pressure inside the tube. If the pump is too large, or too small, you may not get an effective seal. 

Some men may need to try penis pumps of different sizes in order to find one that works for them. 

How Much Does a Penis Pump Cost? 

Penis pumps can vary a lot in cost, but the average cost for a pump is around $300. 

While the initial cost for a penis pump is relatively expensive, these devices are significantly cheaper than prescription medications in the long run, especially if yu engage in sexual activity often. 

A penis pump is considered a treatment for erectile dysfunction, so if you first get a prescription from your doctor for the pump, most insurance companies will cover at least some of the cost when buying a penis pump. 

Guide to Using a Penis Pump

Step 1: Shave Around the Base of the Penis

This step is optional, but it helps a lot if the area where the penis pump sits at the base of the penis is clean-shaven. This dramatically helps form a seal and makes the pump work much better overall. 

Step 2: Place the Plastic Tube Around the Base

The plastic tube should fit snugly around the base of the penis to create a seal. If a seal isn’t formed, you won’t be able to reduce the air pressure inside — which means the pump won’t work. 

You may need to play around with the way the pump sits at the base of your penis until you can create a seal. 

Sometimes adding a little bit of lubrication around the tube can help form a stronger seal. 

Step 3: Use the Hand Pump or Electric Vacuum to Pump Create Negative Pressure Inside the Tube

Some penis pumps require you to hand pump the air out of the tube, and others have a built-in battery and air pump. With both options, the results are the same. As the air is removed from the tube, the negative pressure pulls blood into the penis to fill the space — forming an erection. 

Step 4: Plae the Rubber Constriction Ring Around the Base of Your Penis

Once an erection is formed, you can slip the rubber ring that comes with the pump around the base of the penis. This ring helps to prevent the blood from leaving the penis once fully erect. 

Never leave this constriction ring on the penis for more than 30 minutes at a time. 

Some men find they don’t actually need the ring to maintain an erection; others rely on it. This will vary from one man to the next. 

Step 5: Remove the Vacuum Device 

Once the rubber ring is securely around the base of your penis, you can remove the device and engage in sexual activity. 

Most men will find a penis pump keeps them erect long enough to have sex. 

For best results, you can combine the use of a penis pump with other ED treatments, supplements, or lifestyle changes. 

Penis Pump Alternatives

1. Prescription ED Medications

This is the most common prescription given to patients with erectile dysfunction. Most ED medications are safe and highly effective. They produce a more ‘natural’ feeling erection than a penis pump, and last up to 6 hours. These medications also eliminate the potential awkwardness of using the pump before sexual intercourse. 

Most common prescription ED medications: 

  • Avanafil (Stendra, Spedra) — Fastest-Acting
  • Mirodenafil (Mvix)
  • Sildenafil (Viagra, Kamagra) — Most Popular Overall
  • Tadalafil (Cialis, Tadalista) — Longest Lasting
  • Udenafil (Zydena)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn, Vivanza)

2. Natural ED Supplements

For milder forms of erectile dysfunction, you may not need prescription drugs or a penis pump. Herbal or nutritional supplements may offer enough support for mild to moderate ED to avoid having to use a pump or prescription drug. 

Natural ED supplements usually combine nutrients required to make the chemical messengers that induce an erection, with herbs like tribulus, yohimbe, muira puama, or epimedium that promote the relaxation of the blood vessels supplying blood to the penis. 

Common natural erectile dysfunction supplements: 

  • Ageless Male
  • Andro400
  • Extenze
  • Nugenixx
  • VigRX

3. Diet & Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes erectile dysfunction can be corrected with a few simple diet and lifestyle changes. This could involve visiting a counselor or psychiatrist, cutting out smoking, and taking measures to manage stress levels. 

Diet & Lifestyle Changes that May Help with ED: 

  • Visit a counselor to work through sex-related anxieties
  • Practice destressing techniques like meditation or yoga
  • Exercise regularly to support cardiovascular health
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet and avoid sugary snack foods
  • Stop smoking
  • Take measures to avoid causes of stress — like toxic relationships or workplaces
  • Prioritize sleep — aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night

4. Penis Implants & Prosthetics

Penis implants are another option some men choose to achieve an erection without the need for medications or a pump. Implants work by inserting a rod into the penis that can be filled with a saline solution or air. When the rods are filled, they cause the penis to become rigid. 

This option is very invasive, and there are many pros and cons to consider before going this route.

5. Penile Injections & Suppositories

Suppositories are small, pill-like drugs that are inserted into the tip of the penis. It releases chemicals that induce an erection very quickly. The most common drug used in this manner is called Alprostadil. 

Injections are another method of using this drug, which can be self-administered using small, single-use needles at the base of the penis. 

Key Takeaways: Tips For Using a Penis Pump

A penis pump is a device used to induce an erection before engaging in sexual intercourse. It’s a viable alternative to prescription medications or implants suitable for even the most severe forms of erectile dysfunction. 

Using a penis pump is safe as long as the device is FDA-approved and has a vacuum limiter to prevent the pressure inside from reaching too low. In some cases, such as with sickle cell anemia or while using blood thinner medications, a penis pump should be avoided. 

Overall, a quality penis pump can provide a safe, and reliable erection at a much lower lifetime cost than prescription ED medications. For best results, a penis pump can be combined with other forms of ED treatment, such as drugs like Viagra or Cialis, herbal supplements, and diet and lifestyle changes. 


  1. Shamloul, R., & Ghanem, H. (2013). Erectile dysfunction. The Lancet, 381(9861), 153-165.
  2. Raheem, A. A., Garaffa, G., Raheem, T. A., Dixon, M., Kayes, A., Christopher, N., & Ralph, D. (2010). The role of vacuum pump therapy to mechanically straighten the penis in Peyronie’s disease. BJU international, 106(8), 1178-1180.
  3. Yamanaka, H. (1993). U.S. Patent No. 5,234,401. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.






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