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Dec 08, 2021
6 min read

What is a cock ring? What do I use it for?

Cock rings, or penis rings, are one of the most commonly used sex toys. A cock ring (penis ring) restricts blood flow out of the penis, helping the wearer have a firmer, longer-lasting erection. There are several types of cock rings made from various materials, including silicone and stainless steel. There are stretchy cock rings and rigid cock rings.

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you’re looking to vary your sex life or just want to get to know your body better, you might be looking to incorporate sex toys into sexual activity or masturbation. Penis rings, or cock rings, are among the most commonly used sexual accessories worldwide. 

They’re easy to use—you can use a cock ring by yourself or with a partner—and can provide a range of benefits. Some people wear cock rings because of erectile dysfunction; others wear them for fun or aesthetic reasons. 

Let’s dive a bit further into this popular sex toy and see how it can make good sex even better.

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What is a cock ring?

A cock ring is a band you wear around your penis to restrict blood flow. This can help you maintain an erection, get a firmer erection, last longer during sex, or just accentuate your package, so to speak.

You usually wear a cock ring (also known as a penis ring) around the base of your penis. You can also add your testicles by inserting them into the ring or an attached ring of their own (known as cock-and-ball rings or c-rings). There are stretchy cock rings and rigid cock rings made from various materials, including silicone, rubber, leather, metal, stainless steel, plastic, and rope. 

Some styles of cock rings fit under the glans (head) of the penis; those are known as crowns, glans rings, or head rings. These styles of penis rings that stretch around the shaft of the penis also come with vibration functions (vibrating cock rings), with the goal of adding pleasure for both partners during intercourse. 

Some guys like to wear a thicker cock ring that fits only around the scrotum, just above the testicles; those are called ball stretchers. 

How to use a cock ring 

There are ways that banding your penis with a restrictive device can go very wrong, but it is possible to use a cock ring safely and easily, resulting in enhanced sexual experiences for you and/or your partner.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to use a cock ring, the first thing to remember is that—in this particular case—size does matter.

Get the right size

Cock rings are sold in a few different widths, and you don’t want one that’s too tight or too loose. 

To determine your size, get an erection and wrap a soft measuring tape around the base of your penis, or around your penis and balls, depending on what kind of a cock ring you want to buy. (If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can wrap a piece of string around your penis and/or balls, mark the point where the string rejoins itself with a pen, then measure that length of string with a ruler.) 

Take this measurement and divide it by pi (3.14)—that’s the diameter you’ll want to buy. If this seems like too much math (and perhaps too little science), inexpensive cock ring sets are available in graduated sizes, so you can try each on and find your ideal size that way. And adjustable cock rings have snaps or a quick release function so you can experiment to find a tension that feels best.

Give yourself a trim

Cutting back or shaving your pubic hair may make a cock ring easier to use—and by easier, we mean less painful—because pubic hair can get caught in cock rings when you adjust or remove them. 

Use lube 

Lubricant can help a cock ring slide into position. It’s particularly helpful if you want to wear a non-adjustable ring (like a metal or silicone cock ring) around both the penis and testicles. (That maneuver requires a bit of choreography: Put the cock ring around your erection, leaving space for the testicles below, then insert one ball at a time and slide the ring back.)

Keep it clean 

Cleaning sex toys, including cock rings, is important. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or simply wash your penis ring with warm water and soap after each use to prevent bacterial growth.

Cock rings for erectile dysfunction (ED) 

Cock rings can also be helpful for men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED), especially when used with a penis pump

These vacuum devices help pull blood into the penis to create an erection. Once you’re hard, an elastic ring is put around the base of the penis, which can help blood flow stay where it should in the moment and not disperse back into the body (Rew, 2016). 

Cock rings for premature ejaculation

There isn’t much research on how effective cock rings are for premature ejaculation (PE)—when ejaculation happens before you or your partner would like. Some anecdotal evidence claims cock rings can prevent it; however, one study suggests that a penis ring is not an effective treatment for PE (Hosseini, 2007). 

Cock rings for better sex

Because wearing a cock ring can keep blood from flowing out of an erect penis, it can help maintain a longer and harder erection. That could help you extend the duration of sex and experience more vivid sensations, which may lead to more intense orgasms for yourself and your partner. It may also enhance masturbation for the same reason.

Here are some ways cock rings could add to your sex life: 

Clitoral stimulation 

Some cock rings contain vibrating, nubbed, or ridged elements designed to stimulate a female partner’s clitoris. Many vibrating cock rings have an extension that sits at the base of the penis, positioned for clitoral contact. 

Some cock rings may also have an extension situated toward the wearer’s anus, which serves as a stimulator of their perineum. Cock rings that vibrate may have batteries, but they’re often rechargeable.

Blow jobs and hand jobs

Wearing a cock ring can enhance the sensation of getting a blow job or hand job. And if you typically go soft during blow jobs or hand jobs, wearing a cock ring may help you improve the experience. 

Anal penetration

Because the anus is a tight ring of tissue, anal penetration can require a firmer erection than vaginal sex. By helping you preserve a harder erection, a cock ring can make this easier, especially if you’re a bit nervous about the experience (which is normal for many). If you’re a man being anally penetrated, wearing a cock ring to maintain your erection may make the experience more pleasurable.  

With other sex toys

Cock rings can be used alongside other sex toys, including a vibrator, bullet vibrator, buttplug, dildo, or BDSM gear, to enhance sex or masturbation. A cock ring can improve sensations or help you realize a fantasy, potentially leading to better sex or more pleasurable ejaculation, whether you’re by yourself or with a partner. 

How to use cock rings safely

It’s vital that you follow the safety instructions when using a cock ring so you can avoid some of the conditions mentioned below. To use a cock ring safely: 

Avoid stiff materials like plastic or metal. According to the American Urological Association, you shouldn’t use rigid penis rings made of plastic or metal because these objects can become stuck (it’s rare, but it happens) if the penis swells further. When this happens, there can be damage to the urethra and/or penis (AUA, n.d.

Limit the time. Don’t wear a cock ring longer than 20 minutes, and don’t fall asleep while wearing one. That can lead to dangerous conditions such as priapism, an erection that won’t go down. That can result in permanent damage to the penis. If the penis looks much darker than usual, remove the ring. If you feel pain or “blue balls,” take off the ring ASAP and contact your healthcare provider.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. If a cock ring gets stuck—a super-rare event, but it does happen—use plenty of lube and try to retreat from the ring gradually, removing one testicle at a time. If you’re using a silicone ring, jumping in a warm shower may cause the ring to soften and expand, enabling easier removal. If you can’t remove a cock ring, do not try to cut it off yourself. Head to the emergency department as soon as possible. And don’t be embarrassed—ER doctors have seen it all (possibly that very same evening) (Weinstein, 2021).

At the end of the day, the best treatment for a stuck cock ring is prevention—use the tips above to measure yourself and determine the right size before you buy, or start with an adjustable ring.

References

  1. American Urological Association (AUA). What is Penile Trauma? Retrieved Dec. 6, 2021 from https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/p/penile-trauma
  2. Hosseini, S. R. (2007). Does a constriction ring alter ejaculation latency?. BJU International, 100(3), 619–620. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.07004.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17535277/
  3. Lehrfeld, T. (2009). The role of vacuum erection devices in penile rehabilitation after radical prostatectomy. International Journal of Impotence Research, 21(3), 158–164. doi: 10.1038/ijir.2009.3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19225465/ 
  4. Rew, K. T.  (2016). Erectile dysfunction. American Family Physician, 94(10), 820–827. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27929275/ 
  5. Weinstein, C. S. (2021). Removal of a Steel Ring Causing Penile Strangulation Without the Use of Powered Tools or Sharp Blades. Urology, 148. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2020.10.042. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33186579/