Cock rings: You've no doubt heard about them, but if you haven't tried one yet, you're probably a little confused about what they do and how they work. Well, here's the down low. These little rings of pleasure are used to restrict blood flow in the penis, making it bigger and harder, and helping it stay that way for longer. But all this blood-flow control isn't just for show - it helps create much more powerful orgasms.

Hello?! Why aren't these in everyone's "special" drawer? The answer is mostly because people aren't sure how to choose a cock ring - not to mention how to use one. Here are the hard (pun intended) facts that'll help you add cock rings to your lovemaking repertoire.

The Cock Ring's Dirty Little Secret

Evidence suggests that cock rings were first documented in ancient China and were made from goat eyelids - eyelashes and all. Thankfully, things have changed a bit since then. Nowadays, these cock squeezers can be found at drug stores - and you won't have to stare down the goat who lost its life to enjoy their pleasures.

How to Choose a Cock Ring

The variety of cock rings on the market really is astounding and can be quite intimidating, especially when they range in price from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per ring. So how can you find the right one for you and your partner? Here are a few key questions to ask:

What kind of thrill are you looking for?

There are two key kinds of cock rings: Those that fit at the base of the penis, and those that encircle both the penis and the scrotum. Both options restrict blood flow and help to create a longer lasting, harder erection. What you choose is really a matter of preference. Some men really enjoy the pressure created by the all-encompassing type. Others just don't. Pleasure is personal, so testing out a less expensive model of each type might be a first step.

Why do you want one?

People purchase cock rings for a variety of reasons. For some men, using a cock ring in conjunction with a penis pump helps with erectile dysfunction. Others enjoy using a cock ring every time they have sex to enhance their erection. Some men (and perhaps their partners as well), prefer a more decorative ring (woo woo!); still others might just want a basic model to bring out on occasion as part of their sexual repertoire. Cock rings can even be used to up the ante on masturbation. As I mentioned before, there are literally hundreds of cock rings on the market. The way you plan to use yours will help dictate which one you choose. (Learn more about ED in The Flaccid Truth About Erectile Dysfunction.)

What materials do you prefer?

The most common options are rubber/silicone, leather, metal or plastic. Rubber/silicone rings are easy to put on and take off at any point because they are flexible and can keep a constant pressure no matter how far along the Richter scale that hard-on might be. However, some users complain that these materials can grab and pull at your short and curlies (ouch!).

Leather cock rings often are adjustable with snaps or Velcro, allowing the user to adjust the pressure based on his mood. Plus, they have a certain strong, handsome aesthetic that some guys like.

Metal and plastic cock rings are rigid, which is what a lot of people like about them. But it also means that getting just the right size is essential. You can use a string to measure (while erect, of course) - some adult stores even have fitting rooms for this purpose.

Do you want any special features beyond the basic ring?

A cock ring can do a lot more than just squeeze. Some rings vibrate, others have bullet vibrators attached to the top and bottom of them for (depending on how they're attached) pleasuring either the user or his partner. Some have ridges, bumps, spikes, etc. If you can dream it up, you can probably find someone who sells it. There are also triple cock rings - otherwise known as the triple crown - which have three rings: one for the shaft and one for each testicle. Generally speaking, the more bells and whistles on these babies, the higher the price so decide what features are important to you before hitting the stores. (You'll be surprised at the amount of selection; here nearly 100 different cock rings of all shapes, sizes and descriptions.)

How to Use a Cock Ring

Putting on a cock ring is the first challenge. If your cock ring is made of rubber/silicone, just stretch it out and slide it on an erect penis. Voila! It's very simple, but just remember that this type of cock ring is elastic, so don't let it snap back at you. That could put a serious damper on your lovemaking plans for the day.

If you have purchased a plastic or metal ring, it needs to be put on a flaccid penis. If you're putting it around the scrotum as well, put one testicle through at a time, then put the penis through in the remaining space, head first. If it's only going around the shaft just slide it on up. It needn't be a struggle, so consider using some lube.

Once the cock ring is on, you have about 20-30 minutes before it is recommended that it come off, so get moving already! Restricting blood flow is good for pleasure, but you've got to take the tent down sometime. Do feel free to orgasm and ejaculate with the ring in place though.

If you are using a rubber/silicone ring, it can be easily removed at any point by simply stretching the material and pulling it off. The same goes with a leather strap; just un-snap or un-Velcro it and you're free. The benefit here is that if you're still going strong after 30 minutes, you can keep getting busy without causing harm to your bone daddy.

Unfortunately, the penis must be flaccid to be able to remove metal or plastic rings. The penis comes out first, followed by one satisfied ball at a time. Lube if you like it that way.

Cock rings should not be used by people with diabetes or any other circulation issues. Otherwise, feel free to rock one any time you want. (Want to learn more tips and tricks? Check out How To Knock a Man's Socks Off - In Bed.)