The Pleasure Activist

Cock Rings: What they are, what they do, and how to use them despite common misconception

Despite common misconceptions, not all sex toys are strictly for women and not all sex toys are vibrators. This week, I'll spend a minute discussing cock rings (aka penis rings). Many people have either heard of this device, passed them by in a sex toy store, perhaps even purchased one out of curiosity without knowing how to use one or what it's really for. Of course, there are also a lot of experienced users out there, but unlike a basic dildo that is more or less self-explanatory in terms of function (technique is a whole other story), cock rings can be mystifying if you have never used one yourself. So how can I leave you hanging like that? (See, that's a pun because one of it's several uses is to help folks with erectile dysfunction.)

What Are Penis Rings and What Do They Do?

So I'll start from the beginning. Cock rings are pretty much what they sound like—a ring for your cock! They can be worn at the head of penis to stimulate the glans, just around the testicles (called testicle cuffs), or more commonly, at the base of the shaft. They are worn for several different reasons, including:

• Delaying, prolonging, and increasing intensity of orgasms

• Helping combat some forms of erectile dysfunction

• Creating more sexual sensitivity and pleasure (which can also lead to more immediate orgasms—contrary to the first bullet point)

• Providing the feeling of being firmly grasped around the base of your penis (ideally in a pleasurable way!)

• Creating a "bigger bulge" while showing off your new swimwear (Some "male enhancement" underwear have cock rings built in.)

• Giving your lover something to grasp and gently tug on (again, ideally in a pleasurable way!)

• Making a dapper fashion statement at your next adult play party

They come in many different materials (leather, rubber, silicone, steal, wood, etc), diameters (1.5", 1.75", 2", etc.), widths (thin bands, thick donuts, wide and flat, etc.) and functionalities (adjustable, stretchy, solid, vibrating, multi-function, etc.), but the basic commonality is that it is a continuous circle that one usually places at the base of their penis. It can be placed at the base in front of the testicles or it can encircle both the shaft and the testicles (behind the scrotal sack). This latter method is more effective in restricting blood flow out of the penis while continuing to allow blood flow into the penis. This restriction of blood flow out of the penis is what creates firmer, fuller, and more sensitive erections. Keep in mind that "restricting" does not mean completely stopping. As this would cause pain and discomfort and if ignored can be very dangerous, but we'll get to cautionary tales in a bit. (If you can't make it that far, just know this: take it off immediately at any sign of pain, discomfort, or numbness; don't leave it on for longer than 30 minutes; and never fall asleep with it on!)

Different Kinds of Penis Rings

Cock rings come in a wide variety of materials, styles, and functions. Beginners and intermediate users are strongly advised to use adjustable styles or stretchy materials. Cock rings can be adjusted by way of snaps, buckles, Velcro, bolo tie type slides, as well as other trademarked styles. Be wary of catching any pubic hair or loose skin within the snaps or fasteners. Obviously, doing this can be quite painful at some inopportune times. One way around this, is to shave or trim your pubic hairs down and/or use lots of lube. An advantage to using adjustable rings is that if you feel that you are being squeezed too hard and then panic, fearing that you will never be able to relax your erection away, you can easily just undo or loosen the band. After some experience with this, you will also get a better understanding of how your particular body responds to cock rings and the diameter that is most comfortable and effective for you.

Stretchy materials include silicone, nitrile, and other rubbers. Depending on the particular "drag" of the material, these can also get caught in pubic hairs. So again, shaving or trimming for the occasion can solve this problem. Otherwise, lube it up!

Some stretchy materials are actually not too stretchy. So if you start to panic and you feel you want it off right away, but are not able to decrease your erection, don't panic! Relax. Have an orgasm, try to think of the Queen of England, or use a cold pack. If none of the above works, curb tip medical safety scissors can be used to snip the ring right off. BTW every household should have a pair of these!

It is important to get the appropriate device and not to improvise with things such as rubber bands, strings, or clamps. These can be way too tight and dig into your skin in a way that can cause permanent damage. Even inferior quality or defective store bought cock rings can be problematic if there are jagged or rough edges, so be sure to check for this too.

You may have seen some gorgeous stainless steel, stone, or carved wood penis rings during your travels through various sex toy stores. These are not advisable for the average user and should only be worn by advanced users who are already very familiar with the size that works for them and how their bodies react to the restriction. Some steel rings come with hinges and can be opened up with a key or allen wrench. These tend to be pricier, but would be a safer compromise for those who would like to experiment with hard materials. Just don't lose the key!

Let's not forget vibrating penis rings. This can be a whole lot of fun for the wearer and their lover. Vibrating rings come in many different configurations with one to several little vibrators designed to stimulate testicles (with the vibrator on the underside of the penis), clitorises (while delivering short deep thrusts to keep the vibrator in contact with the clitoris or while having your partner sit on top so that she can grind down onto the vibrator), and other erogenous zones.

Other penis rings are designed to weave around the shaft and scrotum at several different places. And the more intricate it gets, the more it begins to resemble erotic male chastity devices. But that's a whole other can of worms.

How to Use Them


Size yourself appropriately (if you're using a non-adjustable ring). A good rule of thumb is to measure the circumference around the base of your penis and testicles (behind the scrotal sack). Divide this by 3.1. The diameter of the ring should not be any smaller than this! Start slightly bigger until you get used to wearing them.

Shave, trim, lube-up, or powder your pubic hairs so that they don't get caught in snaps, buckles, or stick to tacky rubber.

Lube up the rest of your penis and testicles while you're at it.

Putting it on:

It's best to put it on while still flaccid. The adjustable ones are generally pretty self-explanatory but just be careful not to pinch your skin in the fasteners (as well as your hairs).

For the firmer rings, first pull the skin of your scrotal sack through, then pop through one testicle, then the other testicle, and then pull your shaft through – headfirst. After this, adjust it comfortably in place making sure that nothing is pinching, pulling, scratching, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Then explore and have some fun!

Taking it off:

After you have had your fill of orgasms or your erection has otherwise gone away (or if you've reached your 30 minute limit), take it off the same way you put it on, but in reverse. Pull out the shaft, then pop out one testicle at a time.

Precautions and Contraindications

• Do not use a cock ring if you have any circulatory problems.

• Do not wear a cock ring for longer than 30 minutes.

• Do not fall asleep with one on. Nighttime/morning erections do happen, and this could lead to a whole world of hurt.

• Immediately take the cock ring if any sign of pain, discomfort, numbness, or your penis feels cool.

• If you get stuck in one, and absolutely cannot take it off either by reducing your erection (try having an orgasm, more lube, cold shower, ice, or distraction), or safely cutting it off using curb-tip scissors, seek help from medical professionals without hesitation. The longer you wait, the worse it can get, leading to priapism or worse. One need only Google the Darwin award winner for 2014. This story is not for the faint of heart. You've been warned. However, this unfortunate gentleman waited three days before calling for help!

While these types of medical emergencies capture our imagination and therefore get a lot of airplay, it rarely gets to this point—especially if cock rings are used properly. Mostly, they just contribute to raging hard-ons, powerful orgasms, and fun new sensations. This type of restriction is not a sensation everybody feels comfortable with, but that's what makes the world go round. (See, I'm ending with another pun because cock rings are round. Don't forget to tip your bartender.)

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things. You can often find her milling around her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St., (888) 874-6588.

Ally Booker

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics...