Dear Dr. G,

I’m a 40-year-old man who has severe erectile dysfunction due to years of uncontrolled diabetes.

My doctor has treated me with various medications and even injections with no success.

He recently suggested that I should try the vacuum pump as a last resort.

After some research, I discovered in fact the ring used for the vacuum devices is the same “ring of trouble”.

I recalled reading an incident where firemen were called in to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital to help a man whose penis got stuck in a metal ring.

I later found out the ring is in fact a device used for erectile dysfunction, and not some strange kinky stuff.

Truthfully, I really miss my sex life. I am hoping to put Dr. G on the spot before experimenting with the Ring of Trouble.

Can you tell me what exactly is the vacuum pump device and why does it require a ring to sustain an erection?

Is the metallic ring always necessary? I gather there is a version of a penile-scrotal ring? What’s the difference?

Finally, in case the penis gets stuck in the ring and requires Bomba “intervention”, is the penis still functional in the future?

Thank you for your clarification before I start experimenting.


Experimenting Edward

Before the introduction of the blue pill for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in 1998, the use of penile ring together with purpose-designed vacuum devices were common practices for men with ED. Such devices were invented in the 1960’s.

The vacuum pump is designed to attract blood into the corpus cavernosum of the erectile tissues, and here the ring is used to trap the blood to sustain the erection.

And yes, this is the same vacuum pump featured in the 1997 US movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” where it was described as the “Swedish-made penis enlarger” device.

The penile ring is usually placed around the base of the penis to trap the blood from draining away from an erect penis. Hence the primary purpose of the ring is to sustain the rigidity of an erection for a longer interval. The ring can be worn around the penis and scrotum, or just the scrotum.

However, when the ring is utilised around the neck of the scrotum it is called a testicular cuff and it really has no role in the enhancement of an erection.

Although the use of vacuum constriction devices are less common these days, scientific research has revealed 50% efficacy in their utilisation for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Such therapeutic modality is normally reserved for men where oral treatment no longer works, severe diabetes, and patients with prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy. Therefore, the treatment should be closely supervised by specialists familiar with potential complications of the rings.

The ring is usually made of a variety of materials, including rubber, silicone plastics and leather. Metallic rings are rarely used, as this is often very uncomfortable and obviously can be difficult to remove, especially when “strapped” at the base of a fully erect penis.

The penile ring is also used by men without erectile dysfunction for recreational purposes, prolonging erection and providing pleasure beyond ejaculation and orgasm.

The wearers who experimented with the devices often reported liking the sensation of tightness and engorgement the ring provides. The ring is also used as a genitalia “accessory” or sex toy, with some device equipped with a vibrating component.

The use of the ring in medical or recreational purposes is often associated with complications. Bruising of the penis and a decrease in the force of ejaculation due to the constriction bands are the usual complaints.

The device may not be suitable for some men with cardiovascular conditions on blood thinning medications, and the use of the device beyond 30 minutes, combined with illicit drugs can be dangerous.

The numbness or paleness of the penis is an indication of imminent threat and warrants immediate release of the ring. Persistent constriction despite the warning signs can lead to priapism, which is a medical emergency that will lead to permanent damage of the penis, including the destruction of normal tissue and gangrene and this might need amputation of the penis in some cases.

The journey of sexual self-discovery involves crossing boundaries in experimental practices. For some, such self-experiment may end up in self-harm. The famous boxer Manny Pacquiao once said: “In boxing, you never know whom you are going to face in the ring”.

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