External Penile Prostheses for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Penis sleeves and support devices do not require a prescription

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For men with erectile dysfunction, having a satisfying sex life with a partner can be a challenge. One potential solution is an external penile prosthesis, a device that can be used by men who want the option of penetrating a partner without having to undergo surgery or use medications. Options include penis sleeves and penile supports.

External penile prostheses are readily available and require no medical intervention, although a doctor or sex therapist's consultation can be beneficial. It's important to understand the different devices available and which might be most appropriate for you before purchasing and using one.


There are basically two types of external penile supports, and anecdotal research suggests these options may be effective for some patients and their partners in regaining a satisfying sex life.

External penile prostheses are not medical devices, per se. Some can be purchased over the counter or from specialty sex stores. Others can be sourced through a sexual health professional or doctor. Both types are reusable.

Penis Sleeve

This is basically a hollow penis-shaped device that can be slipped over the penis.

In the world of sex toys, these are commonly called extensions or strap-on dildos. Sex researchers, however, have suggested alternative names for a penis sleeve, such as belted prosthetic phallus.

These devices come in many shapes, sizes, and varieties (ridges and vibration as options, for example).

Penis sleeves can either be used on their own or with a harness. Men with ED may prefer to use a harness-based device for comfort and ease of positioning the penis for penetration. The harness keeps the device in place during intercourse.

Some men are able to reach orgasm despite severe ED when they use a penis sleeve.

If you are looking for a penis sleeve, make certain the description states it's appropriate for use with a flaccid penis or that it can be used for men with erectile dysfunction.

Penile Support Device

Marketed as The Elator/Erektor, this device uses two custom-fitted rings around the base and head (glans) of the penis that are connected by a rigid rod.

The rod holds the glans away from the base of the penis to create a simulated erection rigid enough for penetration.

Who Can Benefit

Erectile dysfunction can occur for a variety of reasons, from cardiovascular disease to radical prostatectomy to phalloplasty in transgender men, and all of these cases could be helped by a penile prosthesis.

External penile prostheses may be ideal for men who aren't appropriate candidates for other ED treatments (medically and/or psychologically), or those for whom such options are financially out of reach or otherwise undesirable.

Examples of such treatments include:

  • Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5is), including Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Stendra (avanafil)
  • Testosterone supplementation
  • Intracavernosal injections, a.k.a. penile injections, where ED medication is injected into the base of the penis
  • Internal penile prostheses: These are flexible or inflatable devices that require surgery to implant, and may require revision surgeries after a certain amount of time. The devices were designed for older men with limited sexual activity. Younger, more sexually active men may need one or more replacements.


Unfortunately, external penile prostheses are not cheap. The devices range from $200 to $700, and they may not work well for all men.

That means that purchasing them can be a bit of a gamble. As such, you should do as much research as you can to make certain that your expectations for any prosthesis are realistic; a doctor or sex therapist can help guide you.

If you do end up finding an external penile prosthesis that works well for you, you may consider the cost a good investment for your sex life.

Use and Your Partner

Realistically speaking, the most important factor in how well an erectile dysfunction treatment will work is how it fits within the context of a couple's intimate life. This requires not just knowledge of your own desires, but also communication with your sexual partner(s).

The only way to get a sense of this is to talk about it. Being upfront about your needs and desires for erectile dysfunction treatment may also encourage your partner to make using your treatment part of sexual play.

Just as safe sex works best when people find ways to eroticize it, so does erectile dysfunction treatment. ED doesn't have to be a limitation. It can be an invitation to explore new pathways of intimacy and pleasure.

A Word From Verywell

No single erectile dysfunction treatment is going to be the right option for all men with ED. But if you've been told by your doctor that some options aren't right for you, or you have tried them without success, a penis sleeve or support device may be worth a try.

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