Ask Emily: What is a Penis Ring and Why Should I Use It?

legs with underwear around ankles in the bed

Hey Dr. Emily,

I’ve heard you mention penis rings before on the show. I’m a guy just getting into toys and wearables for sex with my wife. But what IS a penis ring? I’ve Googled them and know what they look like, but why do people use them? Is it something I can wear during sex with my partner (female), or are they mostly an additive while I’m masturbating? Do you have any starter recommendations for us? 



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Hi Alex! Happy to help!

In its most basic form, a penis ring (AKA a “cock ring”) is a circular band that wraps around the base of your penis, where your shaft meets your torso. You fit the band around your penis and your testicles, and once in place, it helps keep your penis engorged as it becomes erect. 

For individuals with unpredictable erections, penis rings are a huge assist. That’s because they keep blood trapped in the genitals, which is helpful if you find yourself losing your erection at times. The causes of that are varied, but the culprit is often your veins: they might not be compressing enough to keep the blood trapped in the penis. So if you want to last longer during penetration, rings are a nice option. 

If you’ve never tried a penis ring before, I recommend trying one first during  masturbation. That way, you’ll be able to see how your penis reacts to having an object squeezed around it – and that’s key! For your first time, look for something flexible (I always recommend a penis ring made out of rubber or silicone as opposed to metal). 

You asked me for starter recommendations, so let me give you a few: rings you can use during sex, and one to track your erectile health if that’s important to you.

Keeping your partner in mind, there are penis rings out there with built-in vibrators, which stimulate her clitoris during penetration. They pull double duty: most vulva owners aren’t going to orgasm from penetration alone, so rings like these keep you erect while giving her a ton of orgasm-inducing pleasure. And you, too! Vibes tend to feel good on all genitals, and Lelo makes one I absolutely love: the TOR 3, which is flexible enough to fit penises of all sizes, and has a nice broad vibrator on top, to cover a lot of clitoral real estate. It’s also waterproof, which is fun for shower sex. Anytime a cis hetero couple reaches out to me asking for a good starter toy to add to the bedroom, this is the one I usually recommend: it’s super user-friendly, very intuitive, and gets amazing reviews. 

As for erectile health, lately I’ve been recommending FirmTech’s Tech Ring, which you wear at night to track the number of your nocturnal erections which are a leading indicator of vascular health. It’s a “smart ring,” so it gives you data and insights on your erectile fitness – similar to sleep apps that track your nighttime wakefulness. Because so many ED (erectile dysfunction) issues are related to heart health, this tool can help you see the impact of medications and experiment with different lifestyle strategies to see which ones are better or worse for your performance and pleasure-recreational drugs, alcohol, exercise, smoking, diet etc. Unlike conventional and uncomfortable penis rings, it wraps on, making removal super easy, safe for longer sex sessions. Penis owners I’ve spoken to say it’s really comfortable and many use it for partnered sex as well as solo sex for better erections and orgasms. 

Now, these rings are an investment and IMO, absolutely worth the money. But if you’re looking for a low-cost option, to test drive the concept and see if it’s something you’re both into, Good Vibes carries the Screaming O Two-O, which clocks in under 20 bucks and features two vibrators: one to stimulate your partner, the other to stimulate you. 

The bottom line is: if you’re a penis owner stressing over “performance” and confidence in bed, this single tool can make a huge difference. But even if you don’t struggle with ED and simply want to spice it up in the bedroom, partner-play penis rings generate a lot of pleasure… For you AND your partner.