Dear Dr G,

Like all men approaching their fifties, my sex life may not be as exciting as in my younger days.

I am thankful for the libido in myself, and my wife is still as strong as before, however, minds may be willing, but the penis is not so obedient.

I can still get erections, but the erectile rigidity is not sustained throughout the whole intercourse.

I was worried enough to go and see the doctor.

The doctor reckons my erectile deficiencies may be related to my diabetes.

He mentioned that even if the diabetic control is good, I may still have the inevitable problems of nerve and vascular deterioration that resulted in Erectile Dysfunction.

My doctor gave me the little blue pills and encouraged me to start taking them.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the drugs will work, but I am more keen on trying the non-pharmaceutical methods.

I read online such thing called the vacuum pump for the penis, I am curious and hoping to put Dr G on the spot for some advice to revive my dwindling erection.

Can you tell me what exactly is vacuum pump? How does it work?

Has it been around a long time and are there risks associated with the pump?

I am cautious about some reporting of the rings needing to be removed by the fire brigade. What exactly is going on?

Tell me more.


Pumping Pete

A penile pump is a non-pharmaceutical treatment option for men with Erectile Dysfunction, or the inability to achieve or maintain rigidity sufficient for satisfactory intercourse. A penis pump consists of a plastic tube that fits over the penis, a manual or battery-powered pump that is attached to the tube, and a constriction ring that fits around the base of the penis once it is erect.

The functioning mechanism for the penile pump mimics the physiology of natural erection externally. In a natural setting, sexual arousal will trigger an influx of blood into corpus cavernosum, which is the erectile tissues.

Once sufficient blood is entrapped in the penis, the valvular system will ensure tumescence is sustained until ejaculation. In the vacuum pump system, bodily blood is directed to the erectile tissues by the suction mechanism of the external pump. Once the user is getting enough rigidity from the suction, the constriction ring will be applied to the base of the penis to ensure full erection is sustained.

Before the introduction of the blue pills in the late 1990’s, the use of penile ring together with the purpose-designed vacuum pump was common for patients with erectile dysfunction.

It is rumoured the penile pump was invented in 1960s by a Pentecostal Minister who owned a tyre shop and experimented the suction mechanism on his own penis.

Of course, the pump was famously featured in the 1997 movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery as the “Swedish-made penis enlarger” device.

Although the use of vacuum constriction devices is less common these days, scientific studies still propose its utilisation for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, especially in failure of oral treatments, severe diabetes and patients with prostate cancer after radical interventions.

Penile pumps can be a good treatment modality for ED for several reasons. Being a natural modality, the vacuum pump itself is non-invasive and poses less risk than other treatments such as medications and injections.

The pumps are effective when used correctly and most men can get erection sufficient for penetrative sex. In certain circumstances, penis pumps can also be used for penile enlargement, with varying degrees of success.

The Penile Ring can be a variation of rings placed around the base of the penis to slow the flow of blood draining from an erect penis. This has the primary purpose of sustaining the rigidity of an erection for a longer interval.

The ring can be worn around the penis and scrotum, or just the scrotum. Though when the ring is utilized around the neck of the scrotum, it is termed testicular cuff, which really has no role in the enhancement of erection.

The Ring is usually made of a variety of materials, including rubber, silicone plastics and leather. Metallic rings are rarely used, as this is often very uncomfortable and obviously can be difficult to remove.

The penile rings can also be used in recreational manners to prolonged erection in order to provide pleasure beyond ejaculation and orgasm.

The wearers who experiment with the devices often reported liking the sensation of tightness and engorgement the ring provides.

The uses of the ring in medical or recreational purposes can be associated with some complications. Bruising of the penis and decrease in the force of ejaculation due to the constriction bands are the usual complaints.

Needless to say, the device may not be suitable for some men with cardiovascular conditions or on blood thinning medications.

The application of the device beyond 30 minutes, especially falling asleep or with illicit drugs can be dangerous. The numbness or paleness of the penis is an indication or imminent threat and warrants an immediate release of the ring.

Persistence of the constriction despite the warning signs can lead to priapism, which is a medical emergency that will lead to permanent damage of the penis, including the destruction of normal tissue and gangrene.

Some may even lead to the amputation of the penis!

Many men facing the trouble of poor erections may be put off by the potential side effects of medications and lured by the attractiveness of the natural method of pumping the penis back to life.

Although the device has been in use since the 1960s, the pump can still be cumbersome and carry some risks if not used correctly.

The famous boxer turned politician Manny Pacquiao once said: “In boxing, you never know whom you are going to face in the ring”.

Men contemplating using the penile pump and ring often put Dr G in the ring for his opinion on the safety of the device. His advice is “In sex, you always know you are going to face the ring of trouble if you are not using it correctly.”

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