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Penis Sleeves: What They Are, How They Work & More

Mary Lucas, RN

Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 12/23/2020

If you’ve ever searched online for non-pharmaceutical ED treatments or sex toys, you may have stumbled across penis sleeves. 

Also referred to as penis extenders, enhancers or sheaths, penis sleeves are worn around your penis during sex. They’re available in a wide range of sizes and are usually made from silicone or rubber. 

Penis sleeves are designed to do two things. The first is to make penetrative sex easier for you if you’re affected by erectile dysfunction. Because a penis sleeve stays firm, it lets you have sex with your partner even if you’re not totally erect. 

The second is to enhance the enjoyment of sex, both for your partner and yourself. Many penis sleeves feature internal and external ribs, nubs and length extensions that make the experience of sex more exciting, pleasurable and intimate. 

Below, we’ve gone into more detail about how penis sleeves work, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. We’ve also talked more about the other options that are available if you’re affected by erectile dysfunction or other sexual performance issues. 

What Is a Penis Sleeve?

Put simply, a penis sleeve is a hollow, penis-shaped sex toy that’s worn over your penis during sex.

Penis sleeves come in a diverse variety of shapes, sizes and types. Some are sized realistically and are designed primarily to make sex more pleasurable for you and your partner if you find it difficult to stay hard during penetrative sex.

Others are large, with built-in extensions designed to add extra length and girth to your penis for a more intense experience. 

Some penis sleeves are closed, meaning the sleeve covers the entire penis, including the glans (the tip, or head, of your penis). Others are open, with a hole at the end to accommodate the tip of your penis.

Many penis sleeves are designed with extra features to enhance sexual pleasure. Some feature ribs, nubs and other textural features to enhance sensation for you or your partner. Others have features such as vibration, clitoral or g-spot stimulators and more.

How Do Penis Sleeves Work?

Most penis sleeves are designed primarily to enhance sexual pleasure, whether by adding extra length and girth or by providing vibration and textural features that make sex more enjoyable for both partners. 

Some penis sleeves can also be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Since penis sleeves are firm, they can help to keep the penis in a certain shape and make sex pleasurable even if you aren’t able to get or maintain an erection. 

Penis sleeves can also be used by men affected by premature ejaculation (PE), as some wrap fully around the penis and reduce its sensitivity level. 

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Are Penis Sleeves Effective?

Penis sleeves are popular sex toys. Many of the most popular penis sleeves have hundreds of positive reviews from users, indicating that they offer real benefits when it comes to enhancing sexual pleasure. 

When it comes to scientific effectiveness, however, assessing whether or not penis sleeves are effective is a little difficult. Compared to other treatments for erectile dysfunction, there’s only a small amount of research available on the effectiveness of penis sleeves.

However, some scientific research does suggest that penis sleeves can be effective for helping men with erectile dysfunction enjoy pleasurable sex.

For example, one scientific review published in 2017 mentioned penis sleeves as an option for men with erectile dysfunction who’d like to have penetrative sex. It notes that the effectiveness of a penis sleeve can vary greatly based on factors such as its fit, shape and thickness.

Another scientific review from 2019 stated that penis sleeves and similar devices allow for the preservation of penetrative sex for men with erectile dysfunction.

How to Use a Penis Sleeve

Using a penis sleeve is a simple process. However, because fit is so important, it’s essential that you accurately measure your penis before you make a purchase to avoid buying a penis sleeve that’s overly loose or uncomfortably tight. 

Most penis sleeves are designed to fit snugly but comfortably over your penis when it’s totally erect. To work out the right size for you, measure the length, width and circumference of your penis when you have an erection. 

Before you order anything, check that the sleeve offers a comfortable fit. Be aware that many low-cost penis sleeves are only available in one size and may not always offer the right fit for your penis. 

It’s best to put your penis into the sleeve when it’s partially erect, then allow it to become fully erect while you’re wearing the sleeve. Once it’s on your erect penis, the sleeve should stay in place without moving backwards or forwards on your penis. 

Some penis sleeves feature a ring or loop that fits around your scrotum to keep the sleeve in place. Others might have a stretchy hole for your testicles or a belt that fits around your waist and holds the sleeve in place. 

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Penis Sleeves

Penis sleeves offer several advantages. The first, and most obvious, is that they can increase the length and girth of your penis. This can provide extra pleasure for your partner, as well as extra confidence for you as a man.

Second, some penis sleeves are designed to enhance the pleasure of sex, making sex a more enjoyable activity for you and your partner. 

If you have erectile dysfunction, using a penis sleeve can also help you to have penetrative sex without having to worry about losing your erection. This may be a significant benefit if you can’t use ED medications such as Viagra® or Cialis® due to health issues or for other reasons. 

Finally, some men with premature ejaculation find that wearing a penis sleeve helps them to last longer in bed and avoid reaching orgasm too early. 

Penis sleeves also have several disadvantages. The first is that although they can make having sex easier for men with erectile dysfunction, they don’t actually do anything to improve the flow of blood to your penis or treat ED from a physical perspective. 

As such, if you have ED and can use medication without health concerns, you may notice better results from treatments like Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil). 

The second is that a penis sleeve can provide a different type of sensation from penetrative sex without any toys or aides. This may be an advantage for some and an annoyance or distraction for others. 

Finally, while wearing a penis sleeve for extra length or girth can be fun every now and then, the reality is that you probably don’t need it. 

Contrary to what porn might make you think, the typical penis isn’t that large. While it’s fine and fun to wear a penis sleeve every now and then, it’s important that you don’t let the boost in size make you feel insecure or anxious when you have sex without the sleeve. 

Put simply, if you wear a penis sleeve for extra fun rather than ED, go ahead, but don’t let it fool you into thinking your real penis isn’t enough to satisfy your partner. 

Other Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Wearing a penis sleeve may make penetrative sex easier and more enjoyable if you’re affected by erectile dysfunction. However, it’s not the only option. Other treatments for ED include:

Erectile Dysfunction Medication

Several FDA-approved medications are available for erectile dysfunction, including well-known medications such as Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), Stendra® (avanafil) and Levitra® (vardenafil).

These medications are proven to treat ED and may be a better option if you find it tough to get and stay hard during sex. We’ve talked more about how they work in our guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs

Erectile Dysfunction Devices

In addition to penis sleeves, several other devices may help to treat ED. These include vacuum erection devices (ED pumps, or penis pumps) and sex toys such as cock rings. While research is mixed on the effectiveness of these products, many men find that they’re helpful. 

Lifestyle Changes

If you have ED because of a physical issue, such as obesity or high blood pressure, changing certain aspects of your lifestyle may help to make your symptoms less severe and allow you to have penetrative sex more easily. 

Simple changes such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your consumption of alcohol can have a big impact on your sexual performance. We’ve talked more about these in our guide to home remedies and lifestyle changes for ED

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In Conclusion

From enhancing the pleasure of sex to making penetrative sex easier if you’re affected by ED, penis sleeves offer a range of benefits. 

Since fit is essential for good results with a penis sleeve, it’s important to measure your penis before you buy this type of product. Choose a sleeve that matches both you and your sexual partner’s tastes and enjoy an easier, more pleasurable experience together. 

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.