Well, this restriction can feel highly pleasurable for some people. It can also help make erections feel harder. Erections happen when arteries leading into the penis dilate, making the penis bigger than usual, while veins leading away from the penis constrict, trapping as much blood as possible in there. By adding another mode of constriction on top of that vein action, cock rings can help even more blood collect in the penis, resulting in more intense hard-ones. (All of this helps explain why people with erectile dysfunction sometimes use cock rings, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, although anyone in that situation should talk to their doctor before trying this out.)

If you’re intrigued and wondering how to actually use a cock ring, here are a few tips to help you out.

Cock rings. Pleasure rings. C-rings. Penis rings. Whatever you call these devices (I’m partial to “cock ring” myself), I view them as the unsung heroes of many a sexual escapade. They deserve their day in the sun, and I’m here to deliver it. (Yes, my job as a sex educator and coach is pretty delightful.)

A cock ring is exactly what it sounds like: A ring-shaped sex toy that goes around a penis or dildo to squeeze the shaft or shaft and mens cock balls. Learning this might inspire a very valid question: Why the hell would someone want that?!?!

  1. Start with a simple cock ring made of something stretchy like silicone.

Some cock rings come with pretty fun bonuses. Both of my favorite ones—the Pivot from We-Vibe and the Tenga SVR—vibrate and have raised heads, which can be great for vulva-owning penis-riders. (New feminist super heroine name?)

Silicone cock rings are flexible, easy to remove, and simple to clean, making them great for beginners. Some cock rings are made of stainless steel or metal, but I only recommend those for people who are more advanced when it comes to these toys.

  1. Place the ring on a flaccid or semi-erect penis.

After that, there’s the question of where exactly to position the cock ring, since many of them can either go at the base of the penis or surround the shaft and means cock balls. I recommend that beginners stick with the base of the penis. It’s the easiest way to put the ring on and cuts down on the prospect of hurting those sensitive testicles. On the flip side, if you’re using a condom, placing a cock ring over the shaft and means cock balls means it’ll have a bit of distance from the rim of the rubber, which means the ring can be less likely to slide around and push it up. (I still encourage condom use when necessary no matter which cock ring placement you’re into!)

If you’re leveling up and placing a cock ring over someone’s means cock balls in addition to their shaft, do so with care. Once the ring is all the way down their shaft, stretch it as far as it can go without snapping, then gently—gently—place each testicle through the ring one at a time. Adjustable rings are great for this type of placement as you can make them bigger for the testicles to pass through. Either way, it might be easier for the person wearing the ring to do this part themselves.

  1. Don’t leave a cock ring on a penis for too long.

When removing a cock ring, again, gentleness is key. You can even apply more lube if necessary to help it slide off more easily. As with placing the ring, it might be easier for the person wearing the ring to handle this part.

When testing out cock rings, the most important thing of all is to enjoy yourself! Just kidding, it’s safe, although enjoying yourself is a very close second. Be careful, pay attention to how everyone is feeling, and, yes, have fun as you figure out if cock rings can make your sex life even better.

The general industry recommendation is to keep a cock ring on for no more than 20 to 30 minutes. The blood flow restriction is usually safe in short bursts, but much like when you wear a tight rubber band on a finger, it can become painful after a prolonged period. Theoretically, cutting off fresh blood circulation to the penis for too long could cause tissue damage, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, but people using cock rings shouldn’t have to worry about that as long as they follow the instructions and listen to their bodies.