Dear MKE SEX,

I’m a cis man in my 30s, and I’m almost always up for trying new things. I bought a penis pump recently just to see what it’s like. I don’t have any erectile dysfunction, but I heard that using a pump can make the penis more sensitive. That sounded pretty great to me! But when I used it, it didn’t do much for me. It didn’t increase sensitivity, and it was actually kind of uncomfortable. Do people actually use pumps for fun? If so, how? Like, am I just doing this wrong?

Thanks,
Not So Pumped Up

Dear Not Pumped,

While penis pumps are often used for medical reasons (more on that below), they can definitely be used for recreation too. But like all things related to sex, there’s no single thing that works for everyone.

Penis pumps work by pulling more blood into the shaft of the penis. For people who don’t have erectile dysfunction, this may lead to a slightly bigger hard-on than is typical for them. This is not a permanent change. It’ll probably last about as long as the hard-on itself lasts, especially if you use a cock ring. For some folks, this can be a fun and fairly easy way to change things up a little and try out new experiences.

Usually, increased blood flow to any organ will lead to increased sensation. Your the idea that using a pump would make your penis more sensitive is right on! However, the reality is that for some folks, the level of suction required to engorge the penis can cause numbness. This really varies from person to person, and the only way to know how it will affect you is to try it.

If you want to give the pump another try, there are a few things you can do to make it more comfortable. It might turn out that you like it after all. (Of course, it might not work out that way.) You want the base of the pump’s cylinder to fit snugly against your body while pumping. To help with this, you might want to trim your pubic hair down so you can get a good seal. Also, use lube inside the cylinder to reduce drag on the penis during pumping. You can also combine pumping with other activities that turn you on. Watching porn, reading erotica, kissing your partner, and similar activities might make the experience more arousing. Also, a little suction can a long way and might even feel more pleasurable. Don’t over pump.

If it’s still not fun for you, you can put the pump away. It’s cool that you tried something new (and I encourage you to keep exploring), but this just isn’t your thing. Of course, it might not be a bad idea to put it away for later. As we age, a lot of folks experience periods of partial or total erectile dysfunction. If that happens to you, you may like the pump for its more practical use of achieving a hard-on. When combined with a cock ring (applied immediately after pumping), it can be really effective.

Pumps can also be recommended for folks who have other health issues that interfere with blood flow (like undergoing chemotherapy, using high blood pressure medications, diabetes, and others). In situations like that, it’s important to keep blood flowing to the penis just to maintain the health of those tissues. Your doctor may recommend pumping regularly (once or twice a day) to help.

It’s important to note that pumping does not usually increase the overall size of the penis in a long term way. People who pump for this reason would need to use the pump every day for long periods of time in a very dedicated way before they saw any noticeable change. And even then, the change is often unpredictable. The penis doesn’t usually change in a uniform way from base to tip, but instead it’s more common to create bulges or donuts along the shaft. Pumps can be really great for a lot of things, but creating permanent change in the size of the penis is not one of those things.

– Big thanks to the team at the Tool Shed for their contributions to this column. As always, work is easier when shared among friends.

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.

About The Author

Lucky Tomaszek
Contributor

Lucky Tomaszek, LM, CPM, is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee's only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Most mornings you can find her balancing her cat and her keyboard in her lap, working to make the world a smarter, safer place for people of all genders and orientations.

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