What’s A Cock Ring & Should You Be Using One?

Photographed by Noah Rabinowitz.
As Beyoncé famously put it: "If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it." While Bey was referring to putting an engagement ring on a single lady, the same advice might apply for penises and cock rings. A cock ring is pretty much what it sounds like: a pliable ring that's placed on the base of a penis or dildo in order to enhance and sustain an erection or provide clitoral stimulation, says Patti Britton, PhD, clinical sexologist.
To understand why theses rings are more than just sex accessories, though, you first need to understand how erections work. When a person with a penis becomes aroused, blood flow to the penis increases, which causes the shaft to swell (a.k.a. become "hard"), says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, a urology physician assistant and AASECT-certified sexuality counselor and educator. By constricting the shaft, cock rings prevent the back-flow of the blood, so blood can still rush into the penis, but the blood flowing out is restricted by the ring — which keeps the penis "hard" for longer than it otherwise would be, according to Fosnight. "So essentially, the ring can be placed as soon as intimacy occurs and will help to keep and build a larger erection," she says.
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Cock rings don't just benefit the person wearing them, though. "Often, a cock ring has a sleeve at the top, which can have a bullet vibrator or something like that, and could be vibrating on someone's clit," Dr. Britton says.
If you're new to cock rings, Fosnight suggests using an adjustable, silicone or elastic version. "These can fit over the scrotum, which can delay and add to the sensation of ejaculation as well," she says. You can also buy solid cock rings made of stainless steel or hard plastic — though Dr. Britton warns that those kinds are less flexible and can feel constricting, and they can even get stuck. (If that happens, Fosnight suggests applying ice to the penis to decrease swelling and using dish soap to try to slip it off. In some cases, though, it may have to be surgically removed.)
While you should 100% consult the directions that come with your particular cock ring, there are a few pro tips you can keep in mind. To prevent slippage, place the ring securely on the base of the penis. "This is where the majority of the large veins are around the penis, and can maximize its effectiveness," Fosnight says. If you're using cock rings made out of silicone, avoid silicone-based lubricants (they can wear down silicone toys), and consider using a water-based lubricant instead. But keep in mind that adding lube into the mix can make cock rings slip around.
The most important rule? Don't wear cock rings for too long, Fosnight says. In general, she says to limit your use to 30 minutes, because restricting the blood flow to the penis any longer could cause vascular and nerve damage. And stop using the ring immediately if it starts to hurt.
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If you're ready to purchase your own, we've rounded up some of the best cock rings to try.
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The stretchy disposable ring has "pleasure knobs" that are designed to evenly distribute the vibrations. It's also millennial pink, so how could you not buy it?
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There's a "high reach extension" on this ring, which is supposed to provide spot-on clitoral stimulation. The vibrations last for 20 minutes, and you can use it with a condom.
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If you're willing to splurge on a cock ring, this one provides strong vibrations and has a sturdy ring.
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You get a bullet vibrator, a cock ring, and a finger sleeve in this kit. The bullet vibrator conveniently slips into the top of the cock ring, and the whole thing is 100% waterproof.
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Perfect for double-penetration, this cock ring has an adjustable vibrating shaft attached. It's also waterproof, so you can easily clean it after anal penetration.
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This battery-powered vibrating cock ring has a specially shaped tip that pulses for 20 minutes straight.
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For more advanced play, this stainless steel cock ring comes in four sizes and can be placed around the testicles and shaft.
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