Ask the Intimacy Advisor: Pump it Up

by Kristin T.

July 13, 2022


Some of the most frequently asked questions here on the Intimacy Advisor blog, as well as from customers in Lover’s Lane stores, happen to be about penis pumps. What do they do? How do you use them? Do they really work? Are the results permanent? What kind is best for me? I wanted to answer as many of these questions as I could in one convenient place. Hopefully if you’ve been curious about some of these same questions, the answers here will be helpful and informative as you consider the pros and cons of pumping!

Penis pumps, medically known as “vacuum erection devices”, are generally considered safe and effective, though they may not be right for everyone. Guys who struggle with getting or maintaining an erection can often benefit from pumping, and guys who just wish for some increased size may hope they can see results, too. The good news is, they often can…temporarily, at least. Read on for some of the finer points of pumping that readers like you have asked about!

Question: Does a penis pump work for permanent results? And if so, which pump works best? I’m little over 6 inches, trying to become bigger and longer. ~ Justin

Ding ding ding, you win, Justin, for asking probably THE most commonly asked question about penis pumps! I have some good news for you, and a little bad news based on ONE key word in your question, and that word is permanent. While everyone’s exact experience is different, and factors such as air temperature and arousal level can change an individual’s results each time, the size-enhancing effects of pumping generally last for around 30 minutes.

The basic kinds of penis pumps that exist include electric pumps, hand-controlled pumps, and water pumps meant to be used in the bath or shower. The kind that will work best for you depends on what you most want out of your pumping sessions, and how and when you’d most like to use it. Some have more bells and whistles than others, but they all work in the same basic way. You put them on, you pump them up, and you remove your penis once it’s erect and enjoy the aftermath.

Regardless of pump style, penis pumps work by creating a vacuum in a chamber around your penis. This helps increase blood flow to the soft, squishy tissues of your penis, basically forcing it to become engorged, as it does when you get an erection without assistance. This can be a great tool for anyone who has a hard time getting an erection, and it does also increase the size of the penis…temporarily. All that extra blood flow temporarily stored in the soft tissues of the shaft of the penis do make it appear thicker and maybe even a little longer. Slipping on a cock ring can help maintain that thick, firm erection even longer. But, after you orgasm and/or lose that erection, the enhanced size effect will naturally wear off, and your penis will revert to its usual apparent size. But you can always pump again next time to get that visible boost back for another sex session or two.

Penis pumps are most effective (and will produce the least disappointment for the user) if they are used for their original intention, which is to help a guy get a bigger, stronger erection before sexual intercourse. The temporary size difference (and enhanced sensitivity) in your penis after using a pump may be noticeable to both you and your partner, and it may be a great tool for you to turn to regularly before sex to keep creating those enhanced erections, but the keyword here is temporary. Your penis will (sadly, for some) not maintain a noticeable long-term, permanent size increase – lengthwise or girth-wise – from using a pump.

The other bit of good news I can give you here, if it helps, is that per your description of your member, you are a perfectly normal size and shouldn’t necessarily need to get larger. An erect penis that is 5ish inches and up is considered perfectly normal and common, and also perfectly capable of pleasing a partner! It’s only when an erect penis is under 3 inches that a medical condition known as micropenis may be diagnosed, and there are surgical or other medical interventions for that. Those that manufacture and advertise penis-enhancing products would have you believe size is the most important thing to your partner. If you’re concerned about your partner’s opinion on your size, discuss it with them. Understanding your partner’s needs and desires is a more effective way to improve your sexual relationship than trying to miraculously grow your cock.

Question: Hello! I am a first-time user of an electric penis pump. How do you know how much pressure to use, and how long would you leave it on? Looking for any suggestions, thanks! ~ Dean

Hi Dean! Thanks for reaching out with this question, which many guys, no doubt, also have before they begin using a penis pump.

Every penis pump is different, as is every individual using it. Once you have chosen a pump that seems best for your needs, follow the directions and also listen to your body about what feels good. Most guys will leave a penis pump applied at the strongest comfortable pressure for 30 seconds to a minute at a time, then release and try again until the desired effect (a glorious erection) is achieved.

As for a few basic suggestions to make the most of your penis pump, whichever kind you choose:

  1. Use lube. A little lube applied to the base and shaft of your penis, as well as around the opening of the cylinder, can help create an airtight seal, make it easier to slide the tension ring on and off, and will make any pre-pumping masturbation session more pleasurable.
  2. Shave your pubes. Removing the hair from the base of your penis will prevent hairs from getting stuck in the ring seal of the pump (ouch!) and can also create a better seal for more effective pumping. A good ole’ D shave can make you naturally look bigger all by itself, too!
  3. Use as directed. Follow the directions that come with your pump, and never use it in a manner that causes pain or discomfort…that can lead to injury, and your penis is not something you want to injure.
  4. Focus on foreplay. When pumping before a sex session, being incredibly aroused can also help create a firmer, stronger erection, so spend a little time getting turned on to maximize the erection-enhancing effects of a pump.
  5. Add a C-ring: Slipping on a stretchy silicone cock ring after your erect penis comes out of the pump can help you maintain that nice erection for a little longer, but don’t leave one on for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Question: So, I’m interested in trying pumping, but the thought of putting a vacuum suction device on my penis seems a little scary, honestly…are penis pumps really safe? ~ Stu

Great question, Stu, and you are not alone in your apprehension! As a general rule, though, using a penis pump is usually considered safe. They can be great for helping guys who struggle with getting or maintaining an erection, as they work by gently increasing blood flow to the soft tissues of the penis. Because of this mechanism, and the possibility that too much air pressure within the chamber may cause mild bleeding or broken blood vessels under the skin’s surface, there are a few medical conditions that may make you not a great candidate for pumping, including the following:

  • Certain (non-ED) penile conditions, including priapism
  • Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia
  • A history of blood clots
  • Taking blood thinners

If you have any of these contraindications or are in doubt about whether a penis pump will be safe for you for any reason, its always best to ask your doctor. Additionally, if you’re wanting to pump as a solution to an erectile dysfunction issue, your doctor may even be able to write you a prescription that may help you save some money on your pump with reimbursement from your health insurance or a patient assistance program. You don’t NEED a prescription to get a pump, but it may be worth mentioning to your doctor if it may help save you some money on getting the best one for your needs.

Cock rings are commonly paired with the use of a penis pump, slid on immediately after removing the pump to help keep the blood in the penis longer to help maintain the erection longer, but some caution should be used with these, too. Don’t use one that’s much too tight for the natural size of your erect penis. If you’re unsure of what size will be best for you, start with a set that includes multiple options. you want it snug but not super constricting. You should also never leave a C-ring on for more than 30 minutes at a time. A combination of these factors may cause bruising, or even a numb, cold feeling in your penis…if you’ve ever slept on your arm funny and woken up with it asleep, just picture that sensation…not something you want to do to your penis!

The best rule to follow to make sure you can use a penis pump safely is to follow the directions…or “RTFM” if you’re familiar with that somewhat crude directive! Even if it seems self-explanatory, make sure you read ALL the instructions, tips, and information for safe use included with your pump, as they are all a little different. For added peace of mind, look for a pump with a vacuum limiter, which prevents creating a potentially unsafe level of negative pressure in the chamber, or one with a quick-release valve so you can rapidly let air back in should the suction start to feel too strong.

Happy Pumping!

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