February 24th, 2015
Erectile dysfunction is a fairly common condition that affects the functional capacity of an adult male to maintain and sustain penile erection during the act of intercourse. According to latest estimates (1), the prevalence of ED is approximately 2% in young adult males; however, the risk increases steadily with advancing age. For example, based on latest data (2), the prevalence of ED in males over the age of 40 years is 40%. In addition, by the age of 65 years, more than 70% males experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Fortunately, a wide variety of treatment methods and devices are available that can effectively manage the disturbing symptoms of ED to restore optimal quality of sexual life.
Vacuum constriction devices are one of the most reliable and effective methods of management in moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. A VCD or vacuum constriction device consists of two main components:
The pump once attached can be used to create vacuum that can help in maintaining penile erection. The attached ring in turn helps in maintaining the induced erection for controlled period of time.
It is highly recommended to seek the advice/ services of a primary care provider to learn how to use vacuum constriction device. The working principle of most VCSs is similar and involve these primary steps:
It is to be noted that whenever these vacuum constriction devices are purchased check for the ‘quick release pattern’. It is mainly because the risk of penile injuries is much higher with delayed pattern VCDs.
According to several research studies the effectiveness and safety of vacuum constriction devices is fairly high. The patient satisfaction scores ranges from 35% – 98% (3, 4). It is observed that response to VCDs and patient satisfaction is dependent on several factors like; severity of erectile dysfunction, response to other devices and ED therapies and partner preferences. Study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (4) suggested that individuals who respond poorly to intracavernosal pharmacotherapy are more likely to report high satisfaction scores with VCDs.
Vacuum constriction devices are considered fairly safe and useful in patients with transient or chronic history of erectile dysfunctions due to medical or psychological reasons. In addition, it is also a superior modality of care for ED management in patients with:
Vacuum constriction devices are not recommended for patients with:
Although VCDs are generally considered as second line of ED management, but for patients who underwent prostate surgery (such as prostatectomy) or in individuals who cannot use phosphodiesterase inhibitors, it should be considered as first line of management (4).
Although VCDs are very safe for erectile dysfunction management, it is important to keep in mind that erection is induced through artificial suction and hence differs from the natural erection in terms of physiology and mechanics. Some common side effects that are reported with vacuum device use are:
Different brands and types of vacuum constriction devices are available in the market with varying prices ranging from $300 to $500. The battery mode devices cost a little more. Some VCD are available with prescription while some can be purchased without prescription.
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