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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Add Some Bling to Your Thing: How to Use an Erection Ring

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This week, as I sat surrounded by more than a dozen different types of leather bands (with Velcro, studs, snaps, multiple rings, figure-8s, and more), it occurred to me that this would be a good time to write a column about a frequently misunderstood topic: how to use an erection ring (also known as a penis ring, cock ring, or c-ring, for short). Most people have heard of c-rings, and understand that they're supposed to enhance erection, but many are confused by the many different varieties of rings that are available and don't know how to use them to best effect.

C-rings are essentially bands that are designed to fit around the base of the penis and prevent blood from flowing out of the penis once it's erect. Although many people place them just around the shaft of the penis, they are most effective when wrapped behind both the penis and the testicles, so that your entire unit is in front of the ring. This is the biggest misunderstanding I find when talking to customers; many people pick up some of our larger rings, which are 2" in diameter, with expressions on their faces that clearly show them to be thinking, "Whose monster shaft does this thing fit around???" In actuality, these larger rings are recommended for beginning users, not porn stars; it's easier to get a larger ring on, and since larger rings don't constrict as much as smaller ones, it's best to start large and gradually increase compression as you get used to the effects of the ring.

Rings come in two basic styles: solid rings and ones with closures. Solid rings can be made of silicone, rubber, nitrile, neoprene, or metal, and come in different diameters, most often 1.5", 1.75" and 2". These rings should be placed on a semi-erect penis by dropping the testicles through the ring -- first one, then the other -- and then pulling the ring up and over the top of the shaft. As the penis continues to become erect and grows in girth, the ring tightens and constricts blood vessels in the penis, which prevents some blood from flowing back out of the penis once it's fully erect. For new users, as mentioned above, it's best to start with a larger size ring in a stretchy but body-safe material, such as silicone or rubber, and work downward to smaller sizes if more compression is desired. Solid metal rings are for experienced users only, since all other materials can be cut off with a scissors if the ring becomes too tight or can't be removed, whereas metal rings might mean an uncomfortable visit to an emergency room.

Rings with closures function basically the same way, except that they are easier to get on and off than solid rings. Rings with closures are most often made of leather, rubber, nylon rope or tape, or neoprene, although we recently acquired some hinged metal rings that close with an Allen wrench, which have been quite popular. These rings often have multiple snaps along their length that can be used to adjust their size; some also have sliding buckles or rings. This means that one ring can be adjusted to multiple diameters, and instead of having to squeeze the testicles and shaft through the ring, they can simply be snapped or buckled into place.

So, what effect does wearing a c-ring have? This will vary for each person, but many people find that c-rings increase sensitivity in the penis, help maintain erections for longer periods of time, and delay ejaculation. In fact, some might find that they are unable to ejaculate until the ring is removed. Men who want to enhance sensation during sex, who have mild difficulty maintaining erections, or who ejaculate more quickly than they'd like to might want to try a c-ring to see what its effects are. Plus, they can look damn sexy. I recommend wearing rings for short periods of time, no longer than 30 minutes, and to avoid them if you have any type of circulatory problem. If a ring is too tight, there's a chance that it could pinch a blood vessel or nerve, so start large and/or with a ring that is easy to take off or cut off if it starts to become uncomfortable.

In addition to the rings described above, there are all kinds of permutations. Some come with ball stretchers or dividers, some with multiple rings to go around the shaft of the penis as well as the base, and some with vibrators attached that can stimulate either the wearer or a sexual partner. (Rings with vibrators are often, although not always, designed to fit around just the shaft of the penis.) There are also body harnesses with c-rings attached that can be used to hold in an anal plug, attach a dildo so that a partner can experience double penetration, or link to pair of nipple clamps. It all starts with a simple band, so experiment safely and you'll have a whole variety of new toys to try.