Erectile dysfunction (ED), once referred to as “impotence,” is defined as a man’s difficulty in maintaining an erection long enough to perform sexual intercourse. ED doesn’t mean a reduced desire for sex.
According to a study in the medical journal Urology, 20 percent of men report some instance of ED. Men that experience ED tend to be over age 40 and often have an underlying medical condition or psychological stress that causes the condition.
There are many treatments for ED. Some are medical, like prescription medicines or devices, while others involve surgery. An ED ring is a commonly available device that can help many men.
An erection is the natural outcome of sexual arousal combined with healthy blood flow. In a non-erect penis, the veins that move blood away from the penis are open and functioning. When an erection begins, the arteries bring more blood into the penis and the veins are constricted.
The build-up of blood plus the swelling of erectile tissue cause the penis to harden into an erection. An ED ring can help the blood stay in the penis so the erection is maintained.
Medical conditions that are related to ED include diabetes and kidney disease. Diseases that affect the flow of blood, such as high cholesterol, can create difficulty in maintaining an erection.
Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease that interrupt the flow of nerve signals can also cause ED. Many men experience ED after treatment for prostate cancer.
Other factors that make maintaining an erection difficult can include:
- surgeries and injuries to organs around the penis
- overuse of alcohol, recreational drugs, and nicotine
- side effects of prescription drugs
Physical and medical conditions aren’t the only sources of ED. Stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues can all have negative effects on reaching and maintaining an erection.
Once an episode of ED occurs, the fear of it happening again can block a man’s ability to achieve erection. Previous sexual trauma like rape and abuse also can lead to ED.
Just about every televised sports event has commercials for the prescription treatments of ED such as Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra. These oral medicines work by facilitating blood flow to the penis. They cause an erection if the man is sexually aroused.
Other prescription treatments like Caverject and Muse are injected or inserted into the penis. These medications increase blood, and will cause an erection with or without sexual arousal.
Prescription medicines don’t help all cases of ED. They also can cause unwanted side effects like irregular heartbeat and vision changes. Most prescription medicines for ED can’t be used if the patient has a history of heart problems.
When prescription medicines aren’t appropriate, medical devices may help ED. Devices like surgically inserted penile implants may not appeal to all patients, and some users may find vacuum pumps embarrassing or difficult to handle. An ED ring might be a good option for these men.
An ED ring is a circle that fits around the base of the penis. Most are made of a flexible material like rubber, silicon, or plastic, but some are made of metal. Some ED rings have two parts—one circle that fits around the penis, and one part that constricts the testicles.
Rings work best when a man can achieve a partial or full erection, but has difficulty maintaining it. They can also be used with a pump or ED vacuum that fits over the penis and gently draws blood into it. ED rings are sold on their own or along with pumps and vacuums.
When erection has begun, gently stretch the ring over the head of the penis, down the shaft to the base. Keep these tips in mind:
- Be careful to avoid catching any pubic hairs.
- Personal lubricant can help ease the ring on and off.
- Wash the ED ring gently before and after each use. Use warm water and a small amount of mild soap.
Most users find the ring helps erection last long enough for intercourse.
Men with blood clotting disorders or blood problems such as sickle cell anemia should not use an ED ring. Patients on blood-thinning medications should talk to their doctor before using an ED ring.
Don’t sleep with the ring on. Most manufacturers recommend removing the ring after 20 minutes. Some people may be sensitive to the material of the ring. Discontinue use and see a doctor if any irritation develops in either partner.
Some users find that orgasm with an ED ring isn’t as powerful.
ED is common, yet difficult to discuss. The probability of experiencing ED increases with age. Most men will need to try different treatments before discovering what’s right for them. In some cases, more than one approach is necessary over time.
An ED ring is a good option for healthy patients who achieve some erection or who use a penis pump or vacuum to start an erection. ED rings are available from many sources and don’t require a doctor’s prescription.