What is a vacuum constriction device (VCD)?

A vacuum constriction device (VCD) is an external pump that a man with erectile dysfunction (ED) 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 a vacuum constriction device (VCD) 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.

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 of VCDs?

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:

  • Numbness.
  • No ejaculation.
  • Bruising and swelling of the penis.
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm.

How much does a VCD cost?

VCDs may cost from $300 to $500, depending on brand and type. If you come in for teaching and it is effective, you will receive a VCD and your insurance will be billed.

Does insurance cover VCDs?

Most insurance policies, including Medicare, cover at least part of the costs of VCDs, especially if a medical cause for ED has been documented. Medicaid, however, does not cover VCDs.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/30/2020.

References

  • National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Accessed 12/28/2020.Erectile Dysfunction (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction)
  • Urology Care Foundation. Accessed 12/28/2020.How is ED Treated? (http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/treatment)
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed 12/28/2020.Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction. (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment)

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