Erectile Dysfunction Support Sleeves: What Are They & Which Is Best?

By Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP
Medically reviewed
April 20, 2021

Although popular, Viagra, Cialis, and other erectile dysfunction drugs are not the only options to help treat ED. For those seeking a safe, non-pharmaceutical treatment, erectile dysfunction support sleeves may enhance sexual activity. Men wear these around their penis to help them perform during penetrative sex.

Also called penis sleeves, cock sleeves, penis extenders, penis sheaths, or penile prosthetics (among other names), ED support sleeves can be used instead of or in addition to ED medication. Many couples enjoy the sensation of support sleeves and use them as sex toys for sexual enhancement purposes, even when erectile dysfunction is not a primary concern. Some men also use certain models as masturbation aids. 

This article will explain what penis sleeves are, how they work, if they’re effective, and the pros and cons so you can decide if one might be right for you.

What Is ED?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man can’t get or sustain an erection firm enough to enjoy sexual intercourse. While most men experience occasional challenges, men with ED have chronic problems with satisfactory sexual performance. They can feel like they can’t enjoy sex or experience a reduced desire for sex. Some men lose interest in maintaining an active sex life entirely.

ED is the most common sexual health problem in men around the world. It is particularly prevalent among men with cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, sleep disorders, and cancer, and who are overweight or use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.

Psychological conditions can also impact sexual health; men who have anxiety, depression, or high stress are at risk for erectile dysfunction.

While men of any age can develop ED, it’s more common the older you get. By the time they reach 70, roughly 70% of men will develop ED. 

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What Is a Penis Sleeve?

ED support sleeves, or penis sleeves, are tools worn around the penis during penetrative sex or masturbation. They help men (and their partners) have a more satisfying sexual experience. 

Because they are non-pharmaceutical, support sleeves are readily available for purchase without a prescription. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and designs. Some are made from soft, stretchy silicone so that men can enjoy more sensation, while others are made of firmer materials so that men can continue to pleasure their partner even if their erection starts to become flaccid. 

Some models also have extra features to enhance sexual pleasure for men and their partners, increase the length or girth of the penis, or reduce sensation for men who experience premature ejaculation. Others are discrete, flexible ring and rod systems that men wear around their penis to help improve and sustain their natural erections. 

How Does a Penis Sleeve Work?

At their most basic, support sleeves wrap around the penis to provide erection support, improve circulation, or enhance the feeling of masturbation. Each model is slightly different.

Support sleeves designed to function like hollow strap-on dildos wrap around the entire penis and loop around the testicles for a secure fit. These can be closed, meaning that they encompass both the shaft and head of the penis, or open, which allows for more sensation around the organ’s tip. 

If you are concerned about penis size, some support sleeves provide penis enlargement and assistance with erectile dysfunction. These models add extra girth and length to your penis and can come in shapes that mimic the natural form of the penis or that look less realistic but help stimulate a woman’s g-spot. 

Penis enhancer-style support sleeves can be a great option if you want to create a more pleasurable experience for yourself or your partner. Models include a ribbed internal chamber, internal nubs, or a built-in vibrator to provide greater stimulation. 

If you have challenges with premature ejaculation, a model made with a smoother internal chamber and thicker material may desensitize the penis or help you stay firm even after you’ve orgasmed.

Finally, penis rings (also called cock rings) can assist your erections without all the bells and whistles. These lightweight penis rings (or sometimes rings and a rod) are worn around your penis to help improve circulation so you can stay firmer, longer.

Are Penis Sleeves Actually Effective?

Erectile function is a complex process that includes the parasympathetic nervous system and the circulatory system. Because so many factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, it’s difficult to say whether any one solution will work well for every man, in every situation. Generally speaking, an ED support sleeve’s effectiveness depends on whether a specific model fits an individual’s body and needs. 

That said, penis sleeves can be valuable treatment options for erectile dysfunction because they carry less risk of the health complications associated with penile implants and prescription drugs. 

How to Use a Penis Sleeve

Proper usage of an ED support sleeve depends on the model. Most support sleeves require you to insert your penis inside of them. Once you have the sleeve fitted around you, you loop a strap behind your testicles or around your waist to keep the sleeve from moving as you engage in sexual intercourse. Other models clip around your penis and fit snugly enough to stay in place.

Pros and Cons of Using a Penis Sleeve

To decide if a support sleeve is right for you, consider the pros and cons.

On the one hand, support sleeves are:

  • Widely available in sex toy shops and over the internet.
  • Available for purchase without a prescription.
  • Sold in a variety of models, sizes, and price points.
  • Available with additional enhancements to improve your sex life.
  • Less likely to come with health risks or complications.

On the other hand, they can be:

  • Cumbersome or inconvenient to use.
  • A lot to research.
  • Expensive.

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Alternative ED Treatment Options

External penile support devices like support sleeves can be used instead of or in addition to the treatments below to enhance erections and lead to more satisfying sex.

  • Some of the most popular ED treatment options are prescription medications like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra). These help men achieve erections by blocking an enzyme called PDE5 and improving blood flow. 
  • Penis pumps and implants are other medical-grade solutions. 
  • Lastly, healthcare professionals often suggest psychological counseling for men whose mental health may be affecting their physical and sexual well-being. 

When to See a Doctor

If you have persistent problems getting an erection, keeping an erection, or if you feel a reduced desire for sex to the point that you are chronically unsatisfied, make an appointment to see your doctor for medical advice. Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, and plenty of treatment options can help improve your sexual experiences.

How K Health Can Help

K Health provides a simple, accessible option for ED treatment. Chat with a doctor on your phone to determine whether you are experiencing ED. Your doctor will then prescribe you medication, which can be picked up at a local pharmacy or shipped discreetly directly to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use a penis sleeve?
Every model of ED support sleeve is different. Most often a man inserts his penis inside of the sleeve. Then, once it's fitted around the penis, he loops a strap behind his testicles or around his waist to keep the sleeve in place while engaging in sexual intercourse.
How does a penis sleeve work?
At their most basic, support sleeves wrap around the penis to provide erection support, improve circulation, or enhance the feeling of masturbation. They come in various models, sizes, shapes, and materials to help someone achieve the sexual experience they would most enjoy
How do you put on a penis sleeve?
Most support sleeves require you to insert your penis inside them. Then you use a loop around your testicles or a harness around your waist to keep the sleeve secure. Other sleeves clip around the penis and fit snugly enough to stay in place.
Can you feel anything when you have sex with a penis sleeve?
Many support sleeves are made of thin, stretchy material to ensure that you feel as much sensation as possible during penetrative sex. Others have enhancements like a ribbed interior or stimulating nubs to keep the experience pleasurable for you.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP

Dr. Hemphill is an award winning primary care physician with an MD from Florida State University College of Medicine. She completed her residency at Halifax Medical Center.