ED Treatment - Vacuum Devices

What are vacuum devices and how do they work to treat ED?

Vacuum erection devices (VED), also called vacuum constriction devices (VCD), are commonly used, have been FDA approved and have been utilized for nearly a century. Several medical equipment companies have created specially designed devices to limit the amount of pressure that is built up in the cylinder, reducing the chance of pressure-induced penile injury. Some devices have been developed and are available (mainly via the Internet) that are not FDA approved and should not be used without consulting a doctor.

The basic units of FDA approved VED/VCD are:

  • a clear plastic cylinder with an opening at one end that is placed over the penis.
  • a pump that is connected to the cylinder that draws air out to create a vacuum. The pump may be hand or battery operated. The vacuum reduces air pressure in the cylinder and an increase in blood flow to the penis. FDA approved cylinders have pop-off valves, which limit the amount of pressure.
  • an elastic ring. Once an erection is achieved, an elastic ring is placed around the base of the penis. The elastic helps maintain the erection by reducing blood flow out of the penis. The rings come in different shapes, sizes, and most importantly tightness for individual fit. Most manufacturers recommend use of the elastic ring for no more than 30 minutes to minimize the risk of injury.

VEDs/VCDs are effective, but some men find them to be cumbersome and that they get in the way of sexual spontaneity. With proper instruction, roughly 80 percent of men who use.
VEDs/VCDs achieve a functional erection.

How much does a vacuum device cost?

VEDs/VCDs usually cost anywhere from $300 to $500. For example, the battery-powered versions tend to be more expensive. There are several devices currently on the market, some of which can be obtained without a prescription.

Coverage of these devices by healthcare insurance varies depending on the insurance provider and plan. It is best to contact the individual provider concerning cost or coverage.

What are the risks involved with using a vacuum device?

The risk of side effects is low and usually minor. Possible problems associated with the constriction band may include bruising, skin irritation, pain or discomfort, numbness and/or loss of sensitivity. Other common side effects with VEDs/VCDs include a sensation that the penis is cold and pinched scrotal tissue from the constriction ring.