A vacuum constriction device (VCD) is an external pump that a man with erectile dysfunction can use to get and maintain an erection. The pump helps the penis to become erect and a band attached to the pump helps to maintain the erection.
How does it work?
To use the device:
- Place the pump, which can be pumped by hand or run on batteries, over the penis.
- Pump the air out of the cylinder so that a vacuum is created. The vacuum draws blood into the shaft of the penis and causes it to swell and become erect.
- Once the penis is erect, with the help of lubricant slide the retaining band down onto the lower end of the penis.
- Remove the pump.
The band can be left on safely for up to 30 minutes to allow for successful intercourse.
How well do VCDs work?
Studies suggest that about 50%-80% of men are satisfied with a VCD, while others stop using it after a brief trial.
Some men report that VCD works best after a partial erection is achieved through foreplay. Other men, however, feel it interrupts lovemaking less to use the VCD before starting foreplay.
Who should consider using a VCD?
Vacuum constriction devices are most commonly used to treat medical causes of ED. These causes include:
- Poor blood flow into the penis
- Excess blood flow out of the penis during erection
- Damage to nerves that control the erection reflex
Because VCDs are safe to use and have few long-term side effects, they are also sometimes recommended as a treatment for anxiety-based ED.
What are the side effects?
The erection obtained by the VCD is not the same as an erection obtained naturally. The penis tends to be purplish in color and can be cold. To warm the penis so that it is not so cold, you can try putting a warm compress on it before having sex. Other side effects can include:
- Decrease in the force of the ejaculation
- Bruising and swelling of the penis
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
How much does a VCD cost?
VCDs vary in cost from $300 to $500, depending on the brand and type. The battery-powered versions tend to be more expensive, but also tend to work a little more quickly. Battery-powered VCDs are especially helpful for men who do not have good hand strength and coordination.
Does insurance cover VCDs?
Most insurance policies, including Medicare, cover at least part of the costs of VCDs, especially if a medical causes for ED has been documented. Medicaid, however, does not cover VCDs.
- UpToDate. Treatment of male sexual dysfunction. www.uptodate.com Accessed 4/18/2012
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Erectile Dysfunction. kidney.niddk.nih.gov Accessed 4/18/2012
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 4/1/2012...#10053