Everything you need to know about this underappreciated pleasure product.

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How To Use a Cock Ring
Credit: Ana Gassent/Getty Images

'Cock ring' may sound like the name of the junk jewelry or boner bling you'd put through a Prince Albert (piercing). But a cock ring is actually a category of pleasure products — and a very underappreciated one at that!

Never heard of 'em or unsure how to use them? Not to worry. Below, three sex educators explain exactly why cock rings can be a fun addition to any sexual play involving a penis or dildo. 

What Is a Cock Ring, Exactly? 

Let's start with a definition, k? Also known as pleasure rings and c-rings, cock rings are round (or oval) rings that are designed to either snuggly hug the base of a penis (or dildo), explains Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven, the largest BIPOC-owned online intimacy shop. Some cock rings secure around both the penis and the testicles, she says. 

There are cock rings available in a number of materials including leather, stainless steel, ABS plastic, glass, and ceramic, says queer sex educator and lesbian Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert for Lovers adult wellness brand recommends. But the bulk of them are made out of stretchy silicone. And stretchy silicone is exactly the material you want if you're new devices (more on why below). 

Uhh… What's the Point of a Cock Ring? 

When worn on a biological penis, cock rings are designed to place slight (slight!) pressure on the vein at the base of the penis in order to (slightly!) restrict blood flow, explains sex educator Lisa Finn with sex-toy emporium Babeland. The point? More blood flow = stronger erection + more sensation.  

Does this mean cock rings can help a penis-haver with erectile dysfunction stay hard longer? Yes, it does! However, says Finn, "if someone has issues with erectile function, they should check in with their doctor before jumping right into cock rings." Fair. 

Vibrating cock rings have the added benefit of providing buzzy stimulation to both the wearer and the receiver. "The vibrating piece of the ring can be placed against the balls to stimulate the balls and perineum, or on top of the shaft to stimulate the receiver's anus or vulva," she says.  For vagina-havers who need clitoral stimulation to climax (and most do), vibrating cock rings could be the difference between touching the O-zone and not. 

On store-bought cocks (AKA dildos), "cock rings can be used to keep a dildo in a harness during strap-on sex," says Stewart. And vibrating options have the ability to transform non-vibrating dildos into vibrating dildos, sending buzz up and down the shaft that stimulates both the wearer and receiver, she says. Woo!

When Do You Wear a Cock Ring, Exactly? 

There's a misconception that cock rings are accouterments for P-in-V intercourse, only. But this is most definitely not true. Cock rings can be used during any kind of solo, partnered, or multi-partnered sex act that involves a penis or dildo, says Finn. Including: Anal penetration, masturbation, oral sex, hand sex, outercourse, and more. 

Sparks adds that there are some cock rings designed for day-long wear, for kink and/or aesthetic purposes. A Leather Daddy, for example, might choose to wear a leather cock ring to a leather competition, while a Professional Dom might choose to wear a stainless steel ring to a sex party. 

Are Cock Rings Safe? 4 Steps For Safe Cock Ring Use

Yep! So long as they are used correctly. Here's exactly how to use a cock ring correctly. 

1. Use a silicone ring for your first dozen uses. 

The silicone used in cock rings is pretty darn stretchy, explains Finn, which means silicone-based cock rings are more likely to provide slight pressure for slight blood flow constriction, compared to more rigid metals. 

Also: While there are cock rings that go over the shaft and balls, she recommends starting with one that only goes over the shaft. "It's the easiest way to start because it cuts down on the risk it will be too tight, and makes it easier to remove if it feels uncomfortable."

Looking for some product suggestions? Finn says her favorite three for first-timers are the Screaming O Primo Tux (Babeland.com, $26), Je Joue Mio (Babeland.com, $109), and Fun Factory Nos (Babeland.com, $99). 

2. Wear the correct size! 

"Silicone cock rings are one size fits most girths," says Finn. "But if you know you have a girthier shaft, buy a ring marketed specifically towards girthier shafts." For example: The Ringo Ritz XL (Babeland.com, $15). 

Another option is to try a bolo-style cock ring like the Toyfriend Buddy Ring (Babeland.com, $12) or JBoa by Vel'vor (OrganicLoven.com, $34), which allow you to customize how snug the fit is, she says. When adjusting one of these babies on your shaft, aim for "pressure" not "pain". 

If you eventually level up to a metal or glass cock ring, you'll need to do a little measure-and-math. Start by wrapping a string around your penis, then measuring that length on a ruler or measuring tape to find the circumference of your penis, explains sex educator Bobby Box, co-host of the Bad in Bed: Queer Sex (Education) podcast recommends. "Cock rings are sold by diameter (not circumference)," he says. So, you'll need to divide that measurement by pi (3.14) to find your diameter. Then, when metal ring shopping, look for that diameter on the packaging. 

3. Put it on before you're rock hard. 

Ideally, you want to slide the ring down the shaft when you're flaccid or just semi-erect. "You don't want to put it on a penis that is above half-mass, unless we're talking about a store-bought penis," says Finn. Why? Because sliding the ring down an erency penis can create an uncomfortable tugging sensation, she says. 

No matter the state of your peen, she suggests applying lube to both the inside of the ring and the shaft before trying to shimmy the ring down to minimize friction, she explains. 

As a reminder: Silicone-based lubricant is not compatible with silicone pleasure products. And oil-based lubes aren't compatible with latex barriers. So opt for a water-based lubricant like Sutil Water Based Luxe Body Glide (Babeland.com, $42). 

4. Take it off slowly!

Usually, people wait to remove the cock ring until after they've ejaculated and/or become less-hard. When the penis is soft, the cock ring will slide off pretty easily with a lil lube. 

That said, it is possible to remove the ring if you're still hard! And you should do so if you're uncomfortable or your body is turning blue, says Sparks. "Always follow the signals from your body.  Your body will tell you if the ring is too tight." 

Good news: Doing so won't hurt, according to Finn. "Simply apply lube and slowly, slowly roll the ring back up the shaft if at any point the ring starts to feel uncomfortable." (It shouldn't need to be said, but please don't take scissors to the ring while it's on your shaft!)