PETALING JAYA - Some men place a ring at the base of their penis so that they can sustain their erections, said a urologist.
According to The Star Online columnist Dr George Lee, this "tourniquet effect" would ensure that the blood in the penis did not leak back to the body.
"When you have an erection, there is an engorgement of blood into the penis. Some men, if they can't get an erection, will use a pump to get an erection.
"To maintain it, they place a ring at the base of penis; whether made of rubber bands, a leather strap, or in some cases, a ring made out of steel," said Dr Lee.
According to the Meriam-Webster dictionary, a tourniquet is a device (as a band of rubber) that checks bleeding or blood flow by compressing blood vessels.
Last Sunday, a four-man team from the Kota Baru Fire and Rescue Service Department's Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS), took nearly two hours to slice a steel ring off a 23-year-old man using a ring cutter. The man later said that he did it for the "fun of it".
That portion of the man's penis swelled so much from the chafing that the ring became firmly lodged.
"What you have here is a case of the old blood not leaking back into the body. Anything beyond the metal ring will be swollen and the blood supply to the penis is compromised.
"The accumulation of this old blood will make it look blue and swollen," said Dr Lee, adding that a similar case occurred in the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) when he was working there a few years ago.
"After a few hours, the penis cells go through something called necrosis or where they go dead because they are starved from oxygen," said Dr Lee.
He added that beyond six hours, the penis will undergo fibrosis and scarring, and will not have an erectile function in the future.
"That's why it's a medical emergency that has to be dealt with immediately," he said.
He added that doctors would try to save the penis by poking a needle directly into it so that as much blood as possible can be sucked out.
If the penis becomes flaccid, the ring can be pulled out but if not, the Bomba would have to be called for help, said Dr Lee.
"In medical practice, there are no metal cutters and under these circumstances, the Bomba will be the first people the hospital will contact," he said.
Does he have any advice for those planning to place rings on their penises?
"If you have erectile dysfunction, go and see a doctor and see if a pill might be an easier option. But if they truly have to go for a "tourniquet" option, keep to a rubber band of leather strap. Stay away from metal, otherwise the Bomba might have to attend to you," he said.