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Vacuum Erection Devices

Have you heard about the vacuum erection device, used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED)?

It might be a new term for you. Over the last fifteen years, oral medications have become a more popular way to treat ED. And that’s how most men with ED start their treatment. For many men, pills are very effective.

But sometimes, oral medications don’t work as well as we’d like. They might have side effects that are hard to tolerate. Some men, such as those who take nitrates for conditions like heart disease, cannot take ED pills at all. Doing so could cause a dangerous drug interaction, resulting in a critical drop in blood pressure.

A vacuum erection device, also known as a VED, can be a helpful alternative. There is no medication involved and using the device is fairly easy with practice.

Today, let’s take a look at VEDs and the ways they can help men with erectile dysfunction.

How does a man use a VED?

VEDs usually have three parts: a clear plastic cylinder, a pump (either manual or battery-operated), and an elastic ring.

A doctor can give instructions for a specific device, but generally, using a VED involves the following steps:

1.   Apply a water-soluble jelly at the base of the penis to create a water-tight seal.

2.   Place the cylinder over the penis and hold it firmly against the pubic bone.

3.   Activate the pump while keeping the cylinder steady. The pump creates a vacuum that allows more blood to flow into the penis. This blood is what creates a firm erection.

4.   When the erection is ready, place the elastic ring at the base of the penis. This keeps the blood inside and maintains the erection. Once the ring is in place, the cylinder can be removed.

5.   After sex, remove the ring. It should not remain on the penis longer than 30 minutes. Sometimes, men need to experiment with different types of rings to find the one that works best for them.

Using a VED takes practice. However, most men can achieve a full erection in 10 – 20 minutes.

Advantages of VEDs

For most patients, using a VED is a safe, simple way to achieve an erection. Studies have shown that satisfaction rates for both patients and partners are over 80%. Research has also found that some couples’ relationships improve.

Disadvantages of VEDs

VEDs do have some disadvantages, however. They can be cumbersome, unromantic, and interfere with spontaneity. Some men find that their erect penis is cooler to the touch once the constriction ring is on. Men who are not in long-term relationships may feel embarrassed about using a VED and feel anxious about a new partner’s reaction.

Side Effects

Men who use vacuum erection devices might have some pain, irritation, or bruising. If the band is too tight, there could be problems with ejaculation.

Who shouldn’t use a VED?

VEDs aren’t recommended for men who take blood thinners or have bleeding disorders. Men with Peyronie’s disease (penile curvature or “bent penis”) or a history of priapism (an erection lasting longer than 4-6 hours) should be careful when using a VED.

Is a VED right for you?

Do you think a VED might be right for you or your partner? Be sure to discuss it with a doctor. Only a doctor can prescribe a VED. You might see devices being sold online or through mail-order companies, but in most cases, these devices have not been approved by the FDA and could injure the penis.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Brison, Daniel, MD, et al.

“The Resurgence of the Vacuum Erection Device (VED) for Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction”

(Full-text. January 24, 2013)

Sexual Medicine Society of North America

“Vacuum Devices – Erectile Dysfunction”

“Vacuum Erection Devices”

(May 20, 2013)

Weill Cornell Medical College

“Vacuum Devices”