Vacuum pumps are generally incredibly safe and effective for a variety of erectile issues, including ED. A majority of men don’t experience any adverse side effects, and can easily use vacuum pumps regularly. However, as with any device or piece of equipment, there are always potential side effects that can occur; especially if it’s used incorrectly. Here are a few possible side effects to keep an eye out for if you’re using an ED penile pump.
Potential Side Effects of Using a Penile Pump
Blisters or bruising
If you pump blood into the penis too quickly, you might see some purplish bruising or blistering on the shaft, or pin-point sized red dots caused by mild bleeding under the surface of the skin (this is called ‘petechiae’). These are not permanent, and are usually painless and subside with time. If you notice bruising or a blister, do not continue to use the pump until the issue has noticeably subsided.
To help avoid this issue, try leaving a few seconds in between each pump. Typically, the blood moves into the penis slower than the air leaving the cylinder, so it’s important to make sure the full potential of blood coming into the penis is achieved by leaving a pause between pumps. Using a manual exercise to move blood into the penis in between pumping can also help recondition the penile tissue, and result in better erection quality.
Other erectile issues
Because an erection obtained by a vacuum pump device is not the same as an erection achieved naturally, there are some possible side effects that can occur along with the erection. Typically, these go away after time, and do not cause lasting damage or ill effects.
- Blueish/purplish tinge to the penis or a ‘cooling’ sensation: This is a very normal side effect, and is typically a result of both oxygenated blood being drawn into the penis when pumping or an indication that the constriction ring is too tight. Try using a larger ring to help alleviate the pressure.
- Lack of firmness: This is often most noticeable at the base of the penis.
- Unnatural feeling erections: Penis pumps can cause an erection that doesn't feel natural or spontaneous. You might have a lack of firmness at the base of the penis, which can allow the penis to rotate or pivot more than it would with a natural erection.
- Feeling of trapped semen: You might feel like your semen is trapped when you ejaculate, or ejaculation might be painful. Trying a constriction ring along with the pump can help alleviate this problem.
- Discomfort around the base of the penis: If you are using a tight constriction ring to hold blood in the penis and you use it regularly, you might see some bruising around the base of the penis over time. The easiest way to prevent this is by finding the best sized ring for you – not too tight that it is uncomfortable, but not too loose.
Fortunately, the majority of men who use a vacuum device for ED do not experience side effects, but may have to adjust to the awkwardness or manual coordination required to achieve an erection. It is not uncommon for men to have to adjust to the fact that a vacuum device erection may not feel like a natural or spontaneous erection, as the skin temperature is usually lower and the base or shaft is not as firm.
Who Can Safely Use a Vacuum/Penile Pump?
Penile pumps are typically used to help with erectile dysfunction symptoms caused by physical issues, including:
- Poor blood flow into the penis
- Excess blood flow out of the penis during erection
- Damage to nerves that control the erection reflex
- Because they are safe to use and have few long-term side effects, they are also sometimes recommended as a treatment for anxiety-based ED
There are dozens of issues that can potentially cause ED, including a number of potential physical and mental health problems like cardiovascular issues, stress, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, low testosterone levels, and more – which is why it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to first determine the cause of your symptoms.
Benefits of Using a Penile Pump
It may take a bit of practice, but most men are able to regain their sexual ability after using a vacuum pump. Other benefits include:
- Lower risk of complications than with other ED treatments
- Minimal cost after initial purchase
- Noninvasive treatment
- Can be combined with other ED treatments, such as oral medications