What is a Penis Pump? How to Use One Safely

lots of penis pumps

A vacuum erection device, sometimes called a vacuum pump or penis pump, is an external acrylic pump that a man uses to get and maintain an erection. The VED consists of a cylinder that goes over the penis with either a battery operated or manual pump. - University of Utah Health Hospitals and Clinics

What is the purpose of a penis pump?

Penis pumps are used by men for three main reasons:

  1. To create a temporarily larger erection.
  2. To create a long term increased size of the penis.
  3. To treat erectile dysfunction (or ED) and help maintain a healthy erection during masturbation or sex.
  4. Increase blood flow to the penis.

Many people are unhappy with the size of their penis and would like to increase the length and girth of their member. If you are looking to buy a penis pump, then head on over to our huge penis pump section.

According to DePaul University, the average erect penis size from a recent study of men in America and Australia is:

Length: 5.03 inches (or 12.77 cm), Around: 5.14 inches (13.05 cm), Diameter: 1.67 inches (or 4.2cm)

Penis pumps are now a widely used device and no longer a niche or taboo product for men anymore.

As more people understand the benefits of using these devices, the more momentum they gain as one of the most popular male sex toy products.

How does a Penis Pump work?

 A penis pump or vacuum erection device is a cylinder that is placed over the penis and uses a hand pump to create a vacuum effect inside the cylinder.

As you pump air or water (depending on the style of the pump) out of the cylinder, your penis will expand into the area that the vacuum creates. This is called negative pressure.

 This drop in pressure draws blood into the penis and creates an erection because there is more blood than normal inside the penis.

Once you remove the pump your penis will eventually return to its normal size. Many men find that using an erection ring (or cock ring, or constriction ring) after pumping allows them to maintain an erection for sex or masturbation.

These conviction rings are just essentially rubber ring that sits at the bottom of the penis and restricts blood from escaping out of the erection. Constriction rings should not be worn for extended periods of time, no longer than 15 minutes.

diagram of a pump

Many men report that size increases permanently with long term use of penis pumps.

Penis pumps are affordable and easy to use devices that don’t require a prescription from the doctor, unlike most medications.

They are far less risky than more surgical penis enlargement treatments. You can also use pumps in combination with temporary enlargement pills like Viagra and Cialis.

There are side effects and potential risks involved with using penis pumps. When used incorrectly they can cause:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discolouration
  • Long term tissue damage of the penis

These issues can be avoided by using a pump correctly.

How to use a cock pump safely

1. Follow the instructions

There are hundreds of different penis pumps models available today. Most work in the same way, but there will be differences between each model.

The best way for you to safely use a specific model and avoid injury is to follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer.

example instructions

2. Use a pump with a pressure gauge

Overdoing the pumping is easy to do when you get a new pump.

It is recommended that you purchase a penis pump that has a pressure gauge or a vacuum limiter.

A pressure gauge will display the current pressure in the cylinder in real-time while you pump. This will allow you to keep track of how much pressure you are applying to your penis.

pressure gauge

A vacuum limiter will limit over-pumping by restricting the amount of pressure inside the cylinder.  

3. Use a comfort pad or penis pump sleeve

Most modern pumps come with a comfort pad (or penis pump sleeve). They are a soft ring around the base of the pump, designed to add some cushioning to the part of the pump that connects and pushes against the base of your penis.

diagram comfort pad

Penis pump cylinders are of firm material like hard plastic, and if you don’t have something soft in between your skin and the cylinder, they can be uncomfortable.

Repeated use without a comfort pad can result in bruising.

A comfort pad is also used to help to create a solid seal between the pump and your skin. The seal needs to be airtight in order to create enough suction within the cylinder.

A pad can also help to keep your testicles and ball sack outside the pump, which is where you want them.

A cylinder that is too big can leave too much of a gap and your balls may get sucked into the tube. A pad can help prevent this from happening. 

4. Get grooming

Another tip is to keep the pubic hair around your groin as short as possible. This will ensure that you get an airtight seal.

pubic hair

You can also wax or shave the area completely.

This is one of the most common problems with guys that find it hard to get a strong seal.

5. Lubricant is your friend

Applying water-based lubricant to the comfort pad will help create a strong seal between your skin and the pump.

Don't use too much lube, as this will cause too much slipperiness.


Apply a small amount first and see how you go. 

6. The Right Size Pump

Most quality pumps are not cheap. You are paying for a quality product from a quality brand. Picking the right size pump is important because sexual aid products cannot be returned once used for hygiene reasons.

A pump that is too small won’t fit your erect penis inside the chamber and provide enough vacuum pressure.

pump sizes

A pump that is too big can administer too much vacuum pressure and has a higher risk of over-pumping. An oversized pump also creates a problem where you can't create an airless seal at the base of the penis and the pump won’t work at all.

All products have detailed descriptions describing what starting penis size you need in order to use the pump. Get out the measuring tape and compare your penis size with the descriptions of the product before purchasing.

You need to measure your penis while it is flaccid and also while it is erect to get the best indication of your pump size.


penis pump types

7. Don’t Over Pump

Especially important if you are new to pumping. The pumping sensation is one that you most likely have not experienced before, so take it easy.

When you are learning:

Start with to 2 or 3 pumping sessions per week and don’t pump longer than 15 minutes at a time.

Once you feel comfortable with the process you can increase the frequency of your workouts.

Keep your sessions no longer than 15 minutes, and if you want to do longer then give yourself a break every 10 – 15 minutes.

Let the pressure out of the cylinder, stretch and massage your penis to get the blood flowing openly through your body.

Pumping for too long without a break, and pumping too often is the biggest cause of problems associated with pumping. Improper use can result in temporary injuries like blisters, skin discolouration and numbness of the penis.

man in pain

These types of injuries are common among beginners who are too eager to get immediate results. Whilst they are only temporary most of the time, they can be scary to experience.

If any of these do occur, stop pumping immediately and seek professional advice from your medical practitioner.

Other injuries that can occur from over-pumping include ruptured blood vessels and blood flow. This type of injury will cause instant pain, swelling and bruising and may impede your ability to get an erection for weeks and sometimes months.

The “doughnut effect” is another common injury caused by over-pumping. This causes the part of the penis shaft behind the head to swell. This usually subsides within an hour or two.

Pumping causes blood and lymphatic fluid to be drawn up into the penis. This is something that occurs naturally in the body but when too much of it is drawn into the head of the penis it can cause swelling that creates a doughnut look.

If this happens, cease pumping straight away and see your medical practitioner.

This can all sound scary and overwhelming, but it is all completely avoidable if you take it slow, follow instructions and stick to the recommended pumping times. 

8. Get a clear cylinder so you can see your penis

One of the best ways to ensure everything is going to plan is to watch the process. Look for signs of penis stress.

That is why it is so important to get a penis enlargement device that has a cylinder you can see through clearly.

clear pump

Watch for signs of discolouration or spots developing. Some redness can be normal, but too much isn’t a good sign.

Pay attention to how your penis feels throughout the process. The feeling of suction and pressure is normal, any uncomfortable painful is not normal and must be avoided.

Some guys report that the feeling is erotica and similar to a blowjob due to the suction created. You should have a good time when pumping and if you are not, then you are most likely doing something wrong.

9. Quick-release Valve

Always purchase a pump with a quick release value.

This valve is used to release the pressure quickly from the cylinder, which is important if you feel any pain or discomfort. A quick-release valve removes the pressure almost immediately.

quick release valve

Quickly releasing the pressure will minimise any potential damage to your penis.  

Can all men use a Penis Pump?

Many people that have experienced prostate surgery, enjoy the benefits of using vacuum erection devices and report that these pumps help them get an erection and improve their sex lives and self-esteem, post-surgery.

It is important to be aware that penis pumps should not be used by all men. There are some conditions that rule out some men being able to use a vacuum device.

The following guys must avoid using a penis pump. Men with:

  • Sickle cell anaemia.
  • A blood disorder.
  • A disease that causes blood clots.
  • A disease that causes excessive bleeding.
  • Taking blood-thinners.
  • Priapism. 
  • Undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

If you are using medication for erectile dysfunction then check with your doctor to see if using a penis pump is safe for you.  

The health information contained in this article and this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice on any subject matter. Whilst we do our best to research and provide the latest information to our readers, you should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking professional medical advice.

Erica Cuff

Author: Max Wood

Max Wood has been involved in the sex toy industry since 2006. Max has a strong work ethic and is dedicated to providing the most useful tips & advice from both hands-on experience and research with adult sexual wellness products. 

Max has had several healthy sexual relationships and has learn't to discover all aspects of both the male and female body. If you're looking to for new ideas in the bedroom, then Max has the answers. He strives to report on topics that help men, women and couples sex lives fun and fresh.

Max is one of our guru level sexperts at The Hot Spot.

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