Penis Rings: What Are They Used For?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
2nd June 2021

In 30 seconds…

Penis rings are not just used as a sex toy. Rather, by improving blood flow to your penis, they can be used to improve erections in people with erectile dysfunction (ED) too.

In fact, whilst they were designed to enhance sexual pleasure, penis rings have a variety of different uses. Preventing premature ejaculation may be one, whilst penis rings can also be used to help men recover after prostate surgery as well.

What is a Penis Ring?

Penis rings are rings worn at the base of the penis. They are designed to restrict blood flow from the erect penis so that erections become – and remain – harder than normal. They are usually made of flexible materials such as silicon. However, they can be made of more rigid metal, plastic, or leather.

Whilst designed as a sex toy that increases penile sensitivity, penis rings have been shown to be hugely effective in helping erectile dysfunction (ED) and maybe in helping premature ejaculation too. In this article, we’ll look at what penis rings can be used for – from sexual pleasure, to recovery post-surgery.

How Do Erections Work?

To understand what a penis ring can be used for, you need to be clear on how an erection works.

Erections happen due to a combination of psychological and physical factors:

When you are aroused, your brain sends nerve signals to promote nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation of the blood vessels supplying the penis. This engorgement of blood promotes the extension and contraction of the erectile tissues within the penis. Additionally, the muscles compress the veins (i.e. the blood leaving the penis), so this maximises the blood within the penis. This keeps your erection hard.

Achieving and maintaining an erection requires a healthy cardiovascular system and healthy blood vessels. Once enough blood is in your penis, muscles around the vessels contract, keeping the blood inside. Sometimes, when an ED sufferer loses his erection, this process of contraction is impaired.

Penis rings function to reinforce that contraction and keep blood in the penis. This is generally good for maintaining your erections – and, obviously, for your sexual performance too.

What Can You Use a Penis Ring For?

So, what are penis rings generally used for? The truth is that they can be useful for helping a range of aspects of penile health.

Increasing sensitivity during sex

Let’s start with what penis rings were originally designed for. By slowing the flow of blood from the penis, penis rings increase and change the sensations felt during sex. 

Generally, the more blood in your penis, the more sensitive it becomes. However, there are different ways that penis rings can be used to heighten that sensation. Some penis rings are adapted to include your testicles too, which makes orgasms feel much more intense.

And penis rings can be a gift for her as well. Some are installed with stimulators for the clitoris and vulva, which can increase your partner’s pleasure at the same time.

Treating ED

Alongside greater sexual pleasure, penis rings can help people with ED to sustain an erection long enough for them to have sex. ED can present as an inability to keep an erection throughout the entirety of intercourse, or it can be a difficulty getting it up at all. 

In the first case, penis rings can be useful. If blood can enter the penis on its own, a penis ring can help to keep it there – meaning that your erection can last for the length of intercourse.

With penis pumps

If your ED is of the latter variety, however, you may want to combine a penis ring with a penis pump. 

These are mechanical devices consisting of a plastic tube that covers your penis, attached to a pump powered by hand or electricity. The pump creates a vacuum in the tube that pulls blood into your penis physically. When your penis is hard, you can use a penis ring to keep the blood from leaving.

In one study, 80% of men with ED claimed that they were satisfied by the effect of a penis pump and penis ring combination.

With other ED treatments

Penis rings and penis pumps can be useful in particular for those sufferers of ED who do not want to take, or cannot tolerate, ED drugs such as Sildenafil and Tadalafil

For those who do or can take these drugs, however, the combination of medicinal treatment and ED devices can improve erectile function significantly.

Harder erections

Even if you do not have ED, penis rings can be used to give you harder erections. Whether for the sensation (see above!) or for the aesthetic, a larger-seeming penis can give you a confidence boost – and please your partner.

Avoiding premature ejaculation?

There is some discussion about whether penis rings are effective in treating premature ejaculation. Some sites make quite incredible claims for penis rings in this regard, yet there does not seem to be any conclusive evidence on the matter.

The trouble is that we still aren’t 100% certain on what causes premature ejaculation. But whilst there might not be conclusive evidence either way, a penis ring may well help in individual cases.

Helping recovery after surgery

Finally, penis rings can be used to promote the recovery of penile health after surgery such as that for prostate cancer. In these cases, penis rings are most often combined with the penis pump to bring blood and sensation back into the penis post-op.


The weekend pill

Known as the “weekend pill” for its long lasting effects, it’s the generic form of Cialis. Clinically proven to help you get an erection when you need it. For up to 36 hours!

Penis Ring Risks and Side Effects

Penis rings are generally harmless devices that can improve your sexual life in a variety of ways. However, as you are intervening in your blood flow to your penis, it can cause problems if used incorrectly.

Penis rings can cause damage to your genitals if you wear them for too long or if you wear them too tightly. Most penis ring manufacturers recommended that you wear one for no longer than for 20-30 minutes. You are also warned against falling asleep in the penis ring.

Signs that you’ve been wearing a penis ring for too long include numbness, discolouration, or coldness of the penis. It’s also advised not to wear a penis ring if you suffer from sickle-cell anaemia or use blood-thinning medications – as both make the incidence of side effects and complications more likely.

Key Takeaways

Penis rings were designed for increased penis sensitivity during intercourse. However, they can be used for a number of different purposes besides this. The most common alternative use for a penis ring is in treating erectile dysfunction, as the constriction that the ring applies to the base of the penis can allow people with ED to maintain an erection long enough to have sex.

When combined with a penis pump or other ED treatments, penis rings can be highly effective. 

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Further reading

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