Most people probably think of penis rings as a device which may increase pleasure during sex, but they can also be used in people with erectile dysfunction in combination with a vacuum pump to try and improve erections.
If you want to find out how a penis ring and vacuum pump can help improve your erections, or you want to know about other ways of improving erections, then we’ve got the info you need.
Last reviewed: 28/11/2019 by Dr Clair Grainger
Although penis rings have not been proven to improve erections for everyone, studies of individual people have shown that you could see some real benefits - the main advantage of penis rings is they can be used with other erectile dysfunction treatments to improve the effects.
A penis ring fits around the base of the penis, or the penis and testicles, and applies pressure to the surrounding area. This pressure squeezes the blood vessels that carry blood out of the penis and causes blood to leave more slowly.
One of the causes of erectile dysfunction can be that your body can’t keep enough blood in the penis to get an erection started or keep an erection going. A penis ring will trap blood in the penis for longer and increases the total amount of blood in the penis for a stronger erection.
The main things to consider when picking a penis ring are:
Penis rings will usually be provided when you buy a penis vacuum pump, and are often in a variety of sizes: try to find the best fit for you. Instructions for how to use the penis ring will be included with the pump, but if you have any concerns about using one do talk to your doctor first. We would always recommend speaking to your doctor before you use a penis vacuum pump and ring, as these may not be suitable if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications. Your doctor will also make sure that there are no underlying causes for your symptoms that need treatment, and will discuss other ways that you can improve your erections (this will depend on the cause of your ED and your general health).
Penis rings (also known as cock rings, tension rings, or constriction bands) come in a few varieties, but there are also similar devices called pleasure and testicle rings which work slightly differently. Only use a penis, penoscrotal or testicle ring for managing erectile dysfunction if this has been recommended by your doctor. The table below explains the differences:
|Type of ring||
|Delays orgasm?||Increases pleasure?||Shown to help erectile dysfunction?|
Just the penis
Yes - but only proven to work with other treatments
|Penoscrotal Ring||Around the base of the penis and testicles||Yes||Yes||Yes – according to one case study (but only when used with another ED treatment)|
|Testicle||Around the testicles||Yes||Yes||Maybe, but there's no evidence|
There are risks to using penis rings. You might be at risk of damaging your penis and you should remove your penis ring if you experience any of the following:
Having a well fitted penis ring and making sure you don’t keep it on longer than 30 minutes at a time will help you avoid these risks. If you are unable to remove your penis ring at any time then you should go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department straight away.
If you are unable to remove your penis ring for a long period of time then you put yourself at risk of gangrene. This is where the blood supply to your penis is cut off and the tissue the penis is made up of can’t get enough oxygen and dies.
Remember that there are other options to help with your erectile dysfunction including:
Lifestyle changes and exercise – there is evidence that stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can improve ED, as well as losing weight if you are overweight. Regular moderate exercise can also help.
Reviewing your medication – some medications can contribute to ED and changing these if possible may help (always talk to your doctor before making any changes).
Talking to a psychologist – as well as physical causes you may find that ED can be due to stress or mental health problems such as depression, and counselling can help with both.
Herbal remedies – no herbal remedies are convincingly proven to help with ED. If you do decide to you try a herbal remedy that is advertised to treat ED speak to your doctor first to ensure this is safe for you.
Medication – PED5 inhibitors are the first treatment your doctor is likely to suggest for treating your ED symptoms. Though if these don’t help and you have tried the above suggestions, other medications are available after seeing a specialist which can be injected directly into the penis.
Surgery – if you are seeing a specialist about your ED and have not found any other treatments helpful, or if you have had damage to your genitals e.g. after prostate surgery, it may be suggested that you try a penis implant for which you would need surgery.
If you get an assessment from a doctor, they are likely to recommend trying medication called a PDE5 inhibitor for your erectile dysfunction if this is suitable for you. Medications you can choose from include:
As long as a doctor agrees they are right for you, you can try these medications for your erection problems. Some are proven to help up to 84% of people with erectile dysfunction and you can get them from a local pharmacy with a prescription.
Penile constriction devices (2008) NCBI [accessed 03 August 2020]