Penis Pumps - do they work?

Penis Pumps - do they work?

Penis Pumps are one of our most popular sex toys for guys in Australia.  So exactly how does a penis pump work?  

Most importantly, is there any science behind manufacturers claims that they work for penis enlargement?

What is a penis pump?

Nearly all penis pumps consist of a simple tube and a pumping mechanism – either a ball, a digital gauge or a pumper handle. Using the pumping mechanism you pump the air out of the tube, which creates a vacuum and suction that pulls blood into the penis. Pumps generally have a silicone ring on the end which you then slide around the base of the penis, holding the blood and erection in place.

Pumps can be used in a number of ways:

  • Create an erection from a completely flaccid penis – if you’ve had an operation or suffer from erectile dysfunction that results in a complete inability to maintain an erection, you can use a pump to draw blood into the penis to create an erection.  Some people find that a vacuum induced erection doesn’t feel like the real thing, they may feel semi-hard by comparison to a genuine erection. However, reports suggest that men who use pumps for the purpose of preparing for sex still report high levels of satisfaction with their sexual experience.
  • ‘Exercise’ the penis following illness or operation – temporary loss of the ability to get or maintain an erection may be assisted with the use of a pump.  The theory goes that if the penis is flaccid for a long time, then it receives no oxygen rich blood that helps to maintain and renew the penile tissue, making it difficult to gain and erection in future.  By drawing blood into the penis following surgeries that cause temporary loss of function, it may be possible to get back to spontaneous / arousal based erections sooner. 
  • Sexual stimulation – by pumping and releasing the pressure, then repeating, you will get a kind of sucking feeling that is sexually pleasurable. A number of ‘softer’ pumps that are made primarily for masturbation rather than serious size enhancement come with silicone or TPR sleeves that look like mouths / butts / vaginas so that you get the visual appeal and sensation of having sex with the real thing! However don’t get carried away with using pumps for masturbation (there are so many other options!). There is the danger that overuse (too frequently) or overstimulation (too much pumping in one session) will actually cause damage to the penis.
  • Penis enlargement – many men buy penis pumps to regularly induce pump erections based on the belief that this helps the penis grow by putting it under ‘pressure’ or ‘strain’.  Many manufacturers will also claim this on their packaging.  There is limited science to support this (see more below), however they’re certainly popular for this reason and adult sex toy shops sell lots of pumps for non-medical reasons every day.

There are several variations on penis pumps,  the most important features to look out for are:

  • Safety – is there an automatic pressure cut off point or safety mechanism that will let you release pressure quickly from the unit?  If you do accidentally over pump or start to feel pain (or even worse, see a burst blood vessel!) you’ll want to release your pump pretty quickly.
  • Digital operation – digital pumps are really only marginally more expensive than basic penis pumps from good quality brands, but have the advantage of being programmable, so you’re less likely to forget yourself and pump too hard to quickly. Plus you get a more even suction/vacuum progression without having to do all the work yourself!
  • Good quality silicone seals – body safe silicone is one of the softest, smoothest materials for seals and cock rings.  Look out for silicone accessories on the unit for the most comfortable experience possible.
  • Water features – pumps that incorporate water are just as effective at drawing blood into the penis, but safer than ‘air only’ pumps because the water exerts opposite pressure inside the sealed canister which helps prevent over-pumping. Bathmate are probably the most widely recognised brand of water based pumps available in the retail market.  They’re particularly sturdy and come with quality fittings and accessories ready to be used in the bath or shower.  Watch the video below for their explanation about how the Bathmate works:

So is there any science behind penis pumps?

“Penis pumps cost the U.S. government’s Medicare program $172 million between 2006 and 2011, about twice as much as the consumer would have paid at the retail level, according to a government watchdog’s report.”

— Reuters, “Penis pumps cost U.S. government millions, watchdog cries waste” (1/14/14)

So that’s a pretty big investment right – does that mean they work? Will a pump make me grow three inches?

The jury is out we’re afraid.  While a pump will definitely make you feel temporarily fuller and the effects may last for a number of hours, there isn’t much science to suggest that anything can make a penis grow an extra two or three inches.

If you’re a guy who can achieve regular spontaneous erections by himself, you might not have a lot to gain from using a pump other than longer, harder erections. However, if you’re self conscious about sexual performance, find it difficult to maintain an erection for medical or other reasons, or have erectile dysfunction and need assistance with achieving an erection, then a penis pump may benefit you and your partner significantly.   The physical proof for having better, longer lasting erections provided by using pumps is real.

While there is no science that suggests regular penis pump use makes any difference to length, there are a lot of dedicated users who genuinely believe they have achieved length and/or girth gains through regular use.  One of the problems with proving or disproving this is a general lack of organised, long term studies of large numbers of regular people using penis pumps to test whether they actually work over an extended period of time or not.  This means that while there isn’t any real science to back up if they work,  it isn’t totally possible to dispel that don’t.  

It’s also possible that when people gains (i.e. the penis enlargement they’re claiming wasn’t independently verified), what they’re really reflecting is that they’re feeling better about longer, harder erections and perhaps better sex.  This can make you feel like your penis is bigger (the psychosomatic effect) simply because your confidence has increased and you’re feeling more positive about your penis.

What has been proven is that men who use penis pumps intensely can damage their penis irreparably by causing tissue tears and muscle damage, so whatever side of the debate you fall on, don’t over do it. Be safe and follow the manufacturers instructions!

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