Penis Pumps: Time to Find Out if This Handy Device is For You

Penis pumps come in several options. We've put together this handy guide to help you choose the right pump for your needs.

Dr. Jed Kaminetsky
Board Certified Urologist, expert in male sexual dysfunction
by Dr. Jed Kaminetsky Last updated 12/07/2023




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Erectile dysfunction affects a large number of men at some point in their lives, with studies showing that up to 30% of men have a persistent problem with it.

Erectile dysfunction (or ED) is a condition in which you cannot achieve an erection hard enough or for a long enough time to have satisfying sex.

Percentage of men that suffer from erectile dysfunction

There are many reasons why a person might have ED:

  • Anxiety and depression or the medications to treat these conditions
  • Stress
  • Heart problems and poor circulation
  • Other medications, including those for blood pressure and diabetes
  • Age
  • Being overweight
  • Prostate problems
  • General lack of physical wellness - smoking, alcoholism, and certain medications can make this problem worse

Quick FAQs

Penis pumps can run anywhere from $50 for a manual one all the way up to $500 for an automatic or prescription one. However, for the prescription ones, insurance will help cover a substantial cost of the device.

Yes, in fact, for men with mild to moderate ED, penis pumps can actually help maintain an erection longer than an erection achieved without them.

Yes, there are some serious potential side effects that you should be aware of. If you are on blood thinners, or have a blood disorder, then you should speak to your doctor before using a penis pump. Another potentially dangerous condition to be aware of priapism which is when your erection lasts too long. This most commonly occurs with ED medications.

They work pretty much exactly like they sound. You place your penis completely inside of the device making sure that the base of the pump is resting against your pubic bone and with that secure seal a vacuum is created and the pump forces blood into your penis.

Though there's a thriving medication industry to treat erectile dysfunction, some of the available don't work for everyone.

Prescription treatment options can vary, but pills can have side effects you might not want.

Moreover, other treatments for erectile dysfunction can be invasive or even painful.

A penis pump can be a wonderful middle ground that treats ED without being invasive or expensive.

In one clinical study, over 90% of users were satisfied with the results and 69% elected to use the device for over 2-years.

Penis pumps have been show to be 90 percent effective

While penis pumps are often a joke in movies or hidden away in a sex toy shop corner, they are effective medical devices.

Let's look at what these devices do, how effective they are, and how you can use them.

What is a penis pump?

A penis pump can be used as a sex toy or as a medical device to treat erectile dysfunction.

When used non-medically, they are thought to temporarily enlarge your penis and help maintain an erection.

In men without ED, it can create bigger and harder erections than normal, which can be fun in certain circumstances.

For men with mild erectile dysfunction, a penis pump might not be necessary, but for moderate cases, it can change your sex life.

This device is a vacuum pump that draws blood into the penis, creating an erection.

Pro Tip: Another great way to help increase blood flow is with Promescent's VitaFLUX. This supplement is clinically proven to increase erectile functioning.

These erections can vary in duration, but typically they last about 30 minutes.

You can use them with cock rings to achieve and maintain stronger erections, but they're not necessary.

A constriction ring on its own is a good treatment for mild ED, so when coupled with a vacuum pump, the results are compounded.

What does a penis pump do?

Illustration of different penis pumps

Penis pumps are tubular suction devices that are either battery-powered or use a manually compressed handle.

They meet the body at the pubic hair, just at the base of your penis.

It draws air into the tube to create a vacuum around the base of the penis, which causes the air pressure to increase.

This change in air pressure triggers blood to flow into the vessels of your penis, causing an erection.

Because of the way the penis pump draws blood into the penis, it is slower to move out.

This causes an erection that can last for 20-30 minutes on average, allowing you time to have sexual intercourse.

It's usually done during foreplay, but it's okay to wait until you're about to have penetrative sex as well.

Do penis pumps work?

Penis pumps do work relatively well for men with mild to moderate cases of ED.

For men with severe ED, penis pumps can be helpful in combination with other treatments, but they likely won't be effective on their own.

Though you can get penis pumps from a sex toy shop, these are often cheaply made and will likely cost you more than one prescribed by your doctor.

Though penis pumps will not reverse or treat your ED in a long-term sense, they do help alleviate the symptoms long enough for sex.

A clinical trial found that 93% of men with moderate erectile dysfunction report being able to have satisfying sex when using a penis pump as treatment.

Vacuum devices can help maintain the erection they get longer, which in turn can help alleviate some of the stress that makes ED worse.

How to use a penis pump

Using a penis pump is very straightforward, though there are some variations in methodology.

Diagram of how penis pumps work

  1. Place the tube of the pump over the flaccid penis, making sure the seal is in complete contact with the base of your penis. Depending on the size of the pump and your penis, you may want to consider using a premium lubricant from Promescent.
  2. Turn on the pump (or start to use the manual pump) to draw blood into your penis. The air pressure will change and you'll start to become erect. It shouldn't take longer than a few minutes to get fully erect.
  3. Take off the tube and enjoy yourself.

It is worth noting that some penis pumps come with cock rings, and you can also just buy your own to use with your pump.

Though it's not necessary, many men like using penis rings to make their erections harder and last longer.

If you're going to use a cock ring, put it on right after removing the pump to ensure it keeps the blood in your penis, and make sure you take it off after 30 minutes to avoid complications.

    What to expect

    When you're using a penis pump, you can expect relatively immediate results.

    Unlike some medicines for ED, penis pumps should almost always work, at least to a certain degree, because they directly draw blood into your penis.

    Medication often improves circulation, but other factors can prevent erections and so the drugs might not work 100% of the time.

    You can expect the erection to last around 30 minutes, during which time you can have sex as normal. It's possible to use a pump in conjunction with other ED treatments for greater efficacy.

    Possible side effects

     Man considering side effects and risks of penis pumps

    While penis pumps are safe, effective, and non-invasive, they're not without caveats.

    • One reason you should consider a prescription pump is that medical pumps have vacuum limiters. These prevent too much pressure from building up in the tube, which can injure your penis. Non-medical pumps will likely not have these and can result in pain or long-term injury.
    • Petechial bruising is another possible side effect. This is when blood vessels break under the skin, causing small, pin-like red bruises on your penis. It can hurt but it's mostly cosmetic.
    • Some men report that their erections don't feel natural, and it can reduce sexual pleasure to a degree. This isn't common, but it is a possible side effect. It will go away as the penis becomes flaccid and is associated directly with the usage of the pump.
    • The feeling of trapped semen is also reported. Men report this as a feeling of incomplete ejaculation, or that there is still semen in the urethra. Others report that ejaculation is painful to a degree, which can be made worse with a constriction band.
    • Pain, numbness, or loss of sensation in the skin are possible and resolve when the blood flows out of the penis.

    Risks with using a penis pump

    Penis pumps are safe and effective, but there are some risks for certain situations.

    Blood thinners

    If you're using Coumadin or other blood thinners, there's a chance of bleeding from the pressure exerted on the vessels of the penis.

    While pumps can still be used safely for those on blood thinners, be cautious and take it slow.

    Be sure to talk with your doctor if you're on blood thinners, have ED, and use a penis pump.

    Blood disorders

    For those with blood disorders like sickle cell anemia or leukemia, a penis pump can damage both blood cells and your penis. It's not advisable to use a pump with these or other blood conditions unless your doctor thinks it's okay.


    In rare cases, blood can get trapped in the penis, leading to a prolonged, painful erection.

    Priapism can cause long-term damage and be fairly painful, but it's also a possible side effect of ED drugs.

    In general, following treatment guidelines can help minimize this and other risks.

    What are the best penis pumps?

    Now that we have some knowledge of the benefits and techniques for using a penis pump, let's get an idea of the best on the market.

    As we talked about, try to avoid buying them at sex or novelty shops, and communicate with your doctor. Medically reviewed vacuum devices are your best bet for safety and efficacy.

    A prescription will get you a good pump and if your insurance covers it, you might only be paying $50-100 out of pocket.

    Considering medical-grade pumps can run upwards of $500, that's a large reduction in cost.

    1. Augusta Medical Soma Therapy Premium

    Augusta Soma Therapy Premium

    The Soma Therapy gives you exactly what you'd want from a medical device, safely and effectively, and it's available without a prescription.

    Tested rigorously and recommended by doctors, this pump is largely covered by insurance and works extremely well.

    It's adjustable for different sizes of penises and has both hand-pump and electric models.

    2. Encore Deluxe Vacuum Erection System

    Encore Deluxe Battery Powered / Manual Combo Vacuum Erection Device

    The Encore Deluxe pump is one of the best battery powered varieties on the market and even has its own penis ring system included.

    It's easy to use and can also be operated manually if you don't have a way to power it. Ultimately, this is one of the most versatile pumps available.

    3. Bathmate Hydro 7 - Hercules

    Bathmate HYDROMAX water pumps

    The Hydro 7 is designed to offer a more consistent pump pressure, and they do work quite well to help maintain an erection.

    The only real downside is that it has to be used in the shower or a bath.

    It's adjustable for all penis sizes and can accommodate the largest of phalluses better than almost any other pump. It's extremely easy to use and has great results.

    Do I need a prescription?

    Doctor considering prescribing penis pump

    You don't need a prescription to buy most pumps, but it is a good idea to involve your doctor.

    Your physician can help determine if a pump would be effective, and help you find one that fits your needs better.

    Additionally, quality penis pumps can be expensive, and having a prescription that your insurance will pay on can help foot part of the bill.

    There is a definite risk to buying a device that's not medically reviewed.

    It's better to go with an actual medical device to ensure proper treatment and safety.

    How much do penis pumps cost?

    The price of pumps can vary - manual pumps are the cheapest, and can run upwards of $50.

    For higher-end automatic models, you could be looking at $500, but again, insurance will likely pay 60-80%, leaving you with a bill closer to $100 out of pocket.

    Penis pump pricing is another good reason to get a prescription. Not only are over-the-counter models likely not as good as medical-grade devices, but they may also cost you more in the long run.

    It's also worth noting that the initial investment in a penis pump might seem expensive, but the long-term cost of ED medication is likely higher.

    Other than medication, your other options are surgery (penile implants) or shots (yes, in your penis).


    Couple about to enjoy the benefits of a penis pump

    For penis-owners with mild-to-moderate erectile dysfunction, a penis pump may be a safe and effective tool to treat symptoms.

    By creating a vacuum, the pump draws blood into the vessels of your penis, allowing you to get erect for 20-30 minutes at a time.

    Not only have clinical studies shown they work, but they're also a non-invasive treatment method for a sensitive condition that frankly affects 50% of men during their lives.

    Dr. Jed Kaminetsky

    Dr. Jed Kaminetsky

    Dr. Jed Kaminetsky M.D. is an American Board Certified Urologist and earned his Medical Degree at New York University. In his tenure he became a member of the American Urological Association and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Kaminetsky pioneered the minimally invasive Rezum BPH treatment and is an expert in male and female dysfunction.


    Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

    • H Derouet, U Zehl. 1993, July. [Treatment of erectile dysfunction with vacuum pumps]. National Library of Medicine.
    • A A Sidi, J H Lewis. 1992, June. Clinical trial of a simplified vacuum erection device for impotence treatment. National Library of Medicine.
    • Kimberley Hoyland, MBBS, Nikhil Vasdev, FRCS (Urol), and James Adshead, MA, MD, FRCS (Urol). 2013. The Use of Vacuum Erection Devices in Erectile Dysfunction After Radical Prostatectomy. Reviews in Urology.
    • Drogo K Montague, MD. 2002. Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction. Reviews in Urology.
    • Helle Gerbild, Camilla Marie Larsen, PhD, Christian Graugaard, MD, PhD,4 and Kristina Areskoug Josefsson, PhD. 2018, June. Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies.
    The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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