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Cock Rings: What They Are, How to Use & More

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 8/24/2022

A cock ring, also known as a penis ring or constriction ring, is a type of ring that’s worn around the base of your penis during sex.

Cock rings are used for a variety of purposes, including to create a harder erection, to increase the total amount of time an erection lasts, or make your penis larger during sex. They’re sold in a range of styles and are made from several materials, including silicone and metal. 

While there isn’t much scientific research behind the benefits of cock rings, many people swear by them for improving sexual performance and pleasure.

However, there are several safety risks associated with cock ring use that you should be aware of if you’re considering using one of these devices.

Below, we’ve provided more information about what cock rings are, how they work and the key benefits they may offer for sexual performance pleasure. We’ve also talked about how you can use a cock ring safely, from limiting your total use to some simple hygiene tips. 

Finally, we’ve shared several alternatives to cock rings that you may want to consider if you use a cock ring for harder erections or to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). 

What is a Cock Ring?

As mentioned above, a cock ring is a ring-shaped device that’s typically worn around the base of your penis before and during sex.

Several different names are used to refer to cock rings, including penile constriction rings and tension rings. Most cock rings are designed to be used on their own, while others are intended for use with a vacuum erection device (referred to as a penis pump) or similar device.

Cock rings can range from simple to quite complex in design. Some stretchy cock rings consist of a soft silicone ring that’s designed to fit around the base of your penis, while solid cock rings are often made from firmer silicone or metal. 

Other cock rings incorporate a variety of pleasure-enhancing devices, such as butt plugs, dildos and harnesses. Some cock rings, widely referred to as adjustable cock rings, feature bands and other devices that allow them to be adjusted to fit your penis. 

You can buy cock rings in a large range of materials, from silicone and rubber to various types of metal. They’re available in a range of different sizes to provide a comfortable but effective fit around your penis. 

How Do Cock Rings Work?

Many men use cock rings to treat erectile dysfunction, a condition in which you may find it hard to get or maintain an erection during sex.

Healthy erections are all about good blood flow. When you’re sexually aroused, blood flows into the erectile tissue inside your penis, causing it to expand and become firmer. This gives you an erection and allows you to penetrate your sexual partner. 

After orgasm and ejaculation, blood flows out from your penis, causing the tissue to decrease in size and your erect penis to become flaccid. 

Cock rings work by applying pressure to the area near the base of your penis. This slows down the flow of blood out of the penis, which may help you to maintain an erection and stay hard for longer during sexual activity.

Anecdotally, some people claim that cock rings can enhance the pleasure of sex by prolonging sexual activity, giving you more powerful orgasms and even providing direct clitoral stimulation for your partner. 

However, there’s very little scientific research to back up most of the sexual function claims that are made about cock rings.

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Possible Benefits of Cock Rings

Like many other sex toys and devices, many of the purported benefits of cock rings are based more on anecdotal evidence than real scientific research. However, many users find that cock rings do offer advantages for their sexual satisfaction and overall sexual experience. 

Possible benefits of cock rings include:

  • Reduced risk of erectile dysfunction. Although there’s little research on cock rings specifically, constriction rings are sometimes used with vacuum erectile devices as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

    Men who use cock rings often claim that they notice stronger erections and have less difficulty remaining hard during sexual activity.

  • Improved sexual sensation. Many people claim that cock rings increase the pleasure of sex. Some cock rings feature vibration, nubs and other features designed to provide enhanced pleasure for one or both partners.

  • Increased confidence. Thanks to their effects on erections and sexual pleasure, many guys claim that using a cock ring provides them with a confidence boost in bed that may help to reduce sexual performance anxiety.

Although some men claim that wearing a cock ring during sex helps to improve sexual stamina and prevent premature ejaculation, there’s no reputable scientific evidence to suggest that cock rings have any impact on ejaculation latency (the amount of time it takes to ejaculate). 

In fact, one study published in the journal BJU International in 2007 found that constriction rings did not have any noticeable effect on median intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT) in men with mild premature ejaculation.

Risks of Using a Cock Ring

Cock rings can be safe if they’re used correctly. However, because cock rings work by reducing blood flow from your penis, they can potentially cause serious issues if they’re worn for too long or too tight to properly fit your penis.

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, cock rings can permanently damage the penis if worn for too long.

Because blood flow is restricted when a cock ring is in place, using a cock ring for an excessive amount of time can lead to necrosis -- a form of premature cell death that’s caused by restricted blood flow.

When severe, necrosis may lead to the development of gangrene -- a form of body tissue death that, in serious cases, can require amputation of the penis. 

In other words, there are potentially serious consequences to wearing a cock ring for too long or choosing a ring that’s too tight to easily remove from your penis. 

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How to Use a Cock Ring Safely

Because of these risks, it’s important to be careful when using a cock ring. This means choosing a cock ring that’s properly fitted for your penis and easy to remove, wearing it correctly, avoiding extended use and, if necessary, using lubricant to make removing your cock ring easier.

It also means properly cleaning and storing your cock ring when it’s not in use. We’ve gone into more detail about all of the steps involved in using a cock ring safely below. 

How to Put on a Cock Ring

Putting on a cock ring is generally a simple process, but it’s important to complete it correctly to prevent discomfort during sex.

Before using a cock ring, apply a small amount of lubricant to the inner side of the ring to help it slide onto your penis. Place the ring on your semi-erect or flaccid penis, carefully sliding it down the shaft to the base of your penis.

Make sure that the cock ring fits comfortably before penetrating your partner. During sex, if you feel any discomfort, make sure to check that the cock ring is still in the correct position and isn’t applying any unnecessary pressure to the shaft of your penis.

Limit Use to 30 Minutes at a Time

Cock rings can be dangerous when used for too long. Cock rings work by reducing blood flow out of your penis. If a cock ring is left on your penis for too long, it may potentially damage the tissue and cause injury to your penis.

Although uncommon, there are reports in medical literature of people leaving cock rings on for too long and needing medical assistance to remove them.

If you use a cock ring, make sure that you use it for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time. Take your cock ring off as soon as you can after finishing sex to make sure you don’t fall asleep while it’s still on your penis. 

If you experience any discomfort, tightness or physical pain during sex, or notice that your penis swells after wearing a cock ring for several minutes, take your cock ring off right away. 

If you can’t remove your cock ring due to excessive tightness, it’s important to seek emergency medical assistance as soon as you can. 

Choose a Cock Ring That Fits You

Cock rings are available in a range of sizes. It’s important to choose a cock ring that properly fits your penis. A cock ring that’s overly tight may cause your penis to feel numb during sex, while a loose cock ring may not be fully effective. 

When you’re comparing cock rings, closely check the diameter and choose a ring that’s a good fit for your penis. Start with a cock ring that’s made from a flexible material, as this may provide a more adjustable fit and make removing your cock ring easier if it feels overly tight. 

Start With a Silicone Cock Ring

Cock rings can be made from numerous different materials, including silicone, neoprene, rubber and metals such as steel and aluminum. 

If you’re purchasing a cock ring for the first time, it’s best to choose one that’s produced from a flexible material such as silicone. These tend to be easier to fit on your penis, easier to remove and less likely to become stuck on your penis during or after sex. 

Silicone cock rings can also be cut in emergencies -- something that’s often difficult with metals like aluminum or stainless steel.

If you’re allergic to latex or a certain type of metal, make sure not to purchase a cock ring that’s made from these materials. 

Use Lubrication

It’s important to use lubrication when you wear a cock ring, especially when you’re wearing the ring the first few times. Lubrication makes fitting a cock ring to your penis easier and also gives you the ability to slide it off during sex if it becomes uncomfortable or overly tight.

To lubricate your cock ring, apply a small amount of lubricant, like our Glide Water-Based Lube, to the inside surface of the ring before putting it on your penis. Make sure to use a water-based lubricant, as oil-based lubes may damage condoms and increase their risk of breaking.

Not only can lubrication make fitting and removing your cock ring easier -- it can also lower your risk of dealing with unwanted friction from the ring during sex. 

Wash Your Cock Ring After Use

Like with other sex toys, it’s important to wash your cock ring thoroughly after use to prevent the spread of infections and STDs. 

If your cock ring is made from silicone, you can clean it by placing it in boiling water for five to 10 minutes, by cleaning it with anti-bacterial soap and warm water, or by placing it in the top rack of your dishwasher.

If your cock ring is made from steel, you can clean it with manually antibacterial soap and warm water, put it in boiling water for five to 10 minutes, clean it in the top rack of your dishwasher, or use a 10 percent bleach/water solution to soak it for 10 minutes.

For cock rings and sex toys made from other materials, check the instructions provided by the manufacturer for safe cleaning advice. 

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Although cock rings are usually marketed as pleasure-oriented sex toys, they can have a real impact on the vascular health of your penis if misused.

Because of this, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before using a cock ring as a treatment for erectile dysfunction or as a way to boost your sexual pleasure.

It’s especially important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have an underlying condition that affects blood flow throughout your body, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or an injury to the nerves around your penis. 

We get it -- this can be a very personal and private topic for a lot of guys. But, your healthcare provider has heard it all. Because of the potentially dangerous risks associated with cock ring use, it’s always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before using one.

Alternatives to Cock Rings

If you use a cock ring to treat erectile dysfunction or to maintain a harder erection during sex, a more effective alternative is likely available. 

Currently, the FDA has approved several erectile dysfunction medications that make it easier to get and maintain an erection, all without the inconvenience or safety risks that come with using a cock ring.

ED medications include sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), avanafil (Stendra®) and vardenafil (Levitra®). 

These medications work by increasing blood flow throughout your body, making it easier to get and maintain an erection when you’re sexually aroused. Most begin working in under one hour, making them ideal for use as needed before sex. 

Contrary to popular belief, these medications aren’t just for older men, nor is ED a problem that only occurs in your 40s, 50s and beyond. 

Our guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs goes into more detail about how these medications work, their potential benefits, side effects and more.

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Should You Use a Cock Ring?

If you’re prone to erectile dysfunction, using a cock ring may help you to stay hard and perform better during sex. You may also experience improved sexual pleasure.

However, while cock rings might be helpful, they’re far from the best option for treating erectile dysfunction. Medications like sildenafil (generic Viagra) and others also provide relief from ED, all without the significant risks that come with using a cock ring. 

We offer a selection of erectile dysfunction medications online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

You can also learn more about the causes of ED, common symptoms and treatment options in our full guide to erectile dysfunction.

7 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2022, April 19). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  2. What is a constriction ring? Why should one be used with caution? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-a-constriction-ring-why-should-one-be-used-with-caution/
  3. Yuan, J., et al. (2010, April 22). Vacuum therapy in erectile dysfunction—science and clinical evidence. International Journal of Impotence Research. 22, 211-219. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/ijir20104
  4. Hosseini, S.R. (2007, September). Does a constriction ring alter ejaculation latency? BJU International. 100 (3), 619-620. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17535277/
  5. Kumar, A., Somarendra, K.H. & Singh, S.R. (2017). Penile strangulation by metallic ring: A case report. International Journal of Surgery Science. 1 (1), 7-9. Retrieved from https://www.surgeryscience.com/articles/3/1-1-13-775.pdf
  6. Low, L.S. & Holmes, M. (2018, July). The GEM ring cutter: An effective, simple treatment of penile strangulation caused by metal rings. Urology Case Reports. 19, 39-41. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5991319/
  7. What's the best way to clean sex toys? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/health/services/promotion/content/whats-best-way-clean-sex-toys

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.