How Do Penis Pumps Work

(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)

How Do Penis Pumps Work? Penis pumps have existed in one form or another for around 150 years. And despite having medically-proven success in treating ED, they have devolved into little more than a joke thanks to Western media. 

That is – until you find yourself needing one. In this article, we’ll go over what penis pumps are, what they aren’t, and how they work. 


Penis Pumps as An enlargement Tool 

90% of the time, if you hear someone mention a penis pump, they’re talking about using it to enlarge their member. 

In fact, I’m sure you remember the scene in Austin Powers in which he is called out for his love of “Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger Pumps.” 

But here’s the deal: most marketing associated with using a pump to enlarge your penis is a bit misleading (if not an outright lie). 

As you’ll see in this article, all penis pumps do is increase blood flow to the penis, which is their primary benefit in my opinion. 

Growth may occur with some people with consistent use over a long period of time, especially in girth. But blood flow, erection quality and penile health is where these pumps really shine. 

Now, if you’re really interested in enlargement, I have dozens of articles about traction devices, supplements, and exercises. 

However, for this particular discussion, we’re going to focus on how pumps can help with erectile problems. 

How Do Penis Pumps Work?

Penis pumps are rather simple devices. They essentially create a vacuum around your penis, pulling blood into the corpus cavernosa. 

As these chambers and other penis tissues flood with oxygen-rich blood, it produces a powerful erection.

And since the pumps operate on a vacuum principle, they also constrict blood flow out, ensuring that your little soldier can do his duty before retreating.

Now, in many cases, the erection will be harder and stronger than what you might achieve naturally. 

This is especially true of men who have blood flow issues, ED, erectile curvature, or other health problems. 

In fact, this improved erection is the main impetus behind the “we can grow your penis” myth. However, it’s not so much pumping up your size as pumping up your erection quality. 

So if penis pumps excel at anything, it’s helping with erectile dysfunction. After all, there are millions of men who not on struggle with getting hard but with staying hard during intercourse. 

With a pump at their side, they can direct blood into their penis when needed and keep it there long enough to finish the act. 

So rather than classify penis pumps as a “sex toy” or “enhancement device,” you might consider them a “sexual health product” instead. 

The Two Main Types of Penis Pumps

If you Google “Penis Pumps,” you’ll come across tons of different brands and models, each with their own associated gimmicks. 

Some have simple pumps like you’d find on a blood pressure monitor, while others have pneumatic, battery-powered, or even vibrating pumps. 

But at the end of the day, when you take away the bells and whistles, there are only two basic kinds of penis pumps:

  • Standard Vacuum Pumps – These consist of a plastic cylinder with a pump and an erectile dysfunction tension ring. When you use it, the pump creates a vacuum around your penis that draws blood into your member and makes it erect.
  • Bathmate Water Pumps – These use the same basic concept as your standard vacuum pumps, but use a cylinder filled with water instead of just air. The pump causes changes in the water pressure that draws blood to your penis. In general, water pumps are a bit more expensive but noticeably more comfortable than the air vacuum variety.

It’s worth mentioning that all pumps (especially standard vacuum pumps) can cause some discomfort, especially if used incorrectly. 

If you don’t follow the instructions carefully, you can burst blood vessels, cause bruising, and even end up suffering from painful ejaculations. 

Luckily, I’ve included some detailed instructions to make sure you’re pumping has a positive effect on your penis, not a negative one. 

Let’s get started…

How to Use a Standard Vacuum Penis Pump?


I know penis pumps can look a little intimidating (and a lot like a rocket), but they’re not even close to rocket science. If you want to know how to use one safely and correctly, all you need to do is follow this guide step-by-step:

  1. Get Ready. Pumps are a lot easier to use if you’re already naked. In some cases, you might need to do some gardening on your bush to get an airtight seal. Check with the model specs and do a little trial and error if you’re not sure you’re doing it properly. You should feel instant pressure the moment you touch the pump. 
  2. Insert. Slide the tube over your penis and press it firmly against your pelvis where your penis meets your body. Again, you need to have an airtight seal here for the penis pump to work. Just don’t dig the pump edges into your fresh. If you need to press that hard, you’re doing something wrong. 
  3. Activate. Either squeeze the hand pump or turn on the electric pump (depending on the model you’re using. Be sure to check the instruction manual if it’s not obvious). This removes air from the vacuum tube gradually. As this happens, your penis should harden and expand due to blood rushing in to fill the vacuum.
  4. Use the Ring. Once you have an erection, slip the constriction ring down to the base. If it’s sized properly, it will restrict but not stop blood flow in and out of your penis. This helps you maintain the erection without risking circulatory damage. There is a fine line between “too tight” and “tight enough,” so be sure to look for signs of bruising or pain. 
  5. Get Busy. Now, you should be able to remove the cylinder but keep the constriction ring on. If your erection holds, you can go have sex. It should last long enough to get the deed done. If it doesn’t, you might need to evaluate the constriction ring’s tightness. 

How to Use a Bathmate Water Pump?

Like I said, using a Bathmate pump is pretty similar to a vacuum pump. If you follow these directions to the letter, it should make the process as comfortable as possible.

  1. Prep the Pump. Slide the latch valve at the top of the pump to its center position. Most models have three possible positions. Either side is “open,” so put it in the middle. You’ll have to press it gently downward to get it to move.
  2. Align the Cylinder. Choose the right comfort pad into the base of the cylinder. Align the markings so its settled correctly. If you want, you can rotate the cylinder so you can see the measuring guide.
  3. Relax. Chill out for about five minutes, letting the warm water in your bath dilate your blood vessels. This – plus just relaxing in the bath – will make the rest of the process a lot easier. 
  4. Insert. Fill the cylinder with water and slide your junk in. Seat it directly against your hips at the base of your penis. Press inward slightly to make sure you form a good, tight seal.
  5. Start Pumping. Pump the Bathmate slowly by pulling it toward your body, compressing the comfort pad. This looks and feels a bit like masturbating, but what it’s really doing is pumping the water out of the valve at the tip. This is what creates the pressure differential needed to pull blood into your penis. You should start to see results immediately.
  6. Keep it “Up.” You’ll want to pump again as you feel the pressure release. Remember that Bathmate pumps are built to release pressure slowly, which helps avoid damage to your unit from over-pressure. With each new pump, you renew the pressure to keep it the device working. 
  7. Get Busy. When you feel ready to go, remove the pump and get to it. You may want to apply a restrictive ring to help maintain your erection if that’s an issue.

Keep in mind that the directions I just gave are for using this in the bath. You can use it in the shower just as easily. 

Just know if five minutes standing in the water isn’t as relaxing as five minutes in a hot bath. Want to know more? 

You can read about my experience with a Bathmate here. 

How Do Penis Pumps Work (5 tips)

Penis pumps are safer than many other methods of handling ED. They’re also a much more hands-on approach to the problem (pun intended). 

Like jelqing and other exercises, regularly pushing blood through your penis is a great way to keep the tissues healthy and thriving. However, it is possible to go overboard. 

For instance: 

  • If you use the constriction or tension ring, take it off after at most 30 minutes. Leaving it on any longer might cause damage. If you’re still in the middle of the act, this might seem like a pretty big nuisance. However, going soft early is preferential to further worsening your ED. 
  • Talk with a doctor if you have anemia, sickle cell, use blood thinners or have any other medical circulatory problems. The process by which penis pumps work can cause problems for people with these conditions.
  • Ejaculation with the constriction ring on sometimes feels unnatural, forced or even painful. This is normal, but if it makes sex unpleasant, it defeats the purpose of sex. You could remove it prior to ejaculation, but this will require pretty good timing on your part. 
  • You might see bruising or small, red pinpoint dots on your penis. This is normal, but if it is accompanied by pain, you should stop using a penis pump, talk with your doctor, or both.
  • Keep a close eye out for any skin numbness, tingling, or discoloration. This is a sign that there’s too much pressure in your member. 90% of the time, switching to a larger constriction ring will help alleviate this. 

The last thing you need to know about using a penis pump is this: yes, it can be awkward. You’re essentially introducing a “marital aid” into your bedroom life because of a physical ailment. 

This means that if you’ve been keeping your ED secret from your partner, now is the time to fess up. I mean, you can’t exactly explain why you need to wear a cock ring or take a bath before sex, right? 

However, if you’re honest with your partner and communicate what’s happening, the pros of getting back on the horse will far outweigh the awkwardness that comes with using a pump. Soon, it will become a routine that you both benefit from. 

How Do Penis Pumps Work – Conclusion: 

Again, you almost always see penis pumps advertised as a way to enlarge the size of your member. 

However, the real purpose of these pumps is to help you get and keep an erection. And while that erection might be a bit bigger than average, that’s more of a bonus than an intended result. 

That’s why medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic recommend penis pumps for treating ED. 

In their opinion, penis pumps are safer, cheaper, and have fewer side effects than medications like Viagra or Cialis. 

So while you might feel the urge “pill up” the moment you notice those erectile problems, pumping is a much better solution than pumping your body full of chemicals. 

Believe me: as long as you know which kind of pump you want, why it’s the best choice for you, and how to use it safely, they’re worth giving a try.

About the Author Mark

Article edited by Mark Wilson. Mark currently owns 5 sites in the men's sexual health niche and has published more than 5,000 articles and blog posts on dozens of websites all over the world wide web.

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