Sexual health basics (5)
- Sex therapy
- Sex headaches
- Compulsive sexual behavior
- see all in Sexual health basics
Women's sexual health (21)
- Women's sexual health: Talking about your sexual needs
- Combination birth control pills
- Female condom
- see all in Women's sexual health
Men's sexual health (16)
- Penis-enlargement products: Do they work?
- Delayed ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- see all in Men's sexual health
Sex and aging (3)
- Senior sex: Tips for older men
- Sexual health and aging: Keep the passion alive
- Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality?
Talking to kids about sex (5)
- Teens and sex: Protecting your teen's sexual health
- Cervical cancer vaccine: Who needs it, how it works
- Sex education: Talking to your teen about sex
- see all in Talking to kids about sex
Penis-enlargement products: Do they work?
Tempted by products that claim to increase penis size? Get the facts about what to expect from male-enhancement pills, pumps, exercises and surgeries.By Mayo Clinic staff
Penis-enlargement products and procedures aren't difficult to find. Men's magazines, radio shows and the Internet are full of ads for pumps, pills, weights, exercises and even surgeries that claim to increase the length and width of your penis.
However, there's very little scientific support for any nonsurgical methods to enlarge the penis. And no reputable medical organization endorses penis surgery for purely cosmetic reasons. Most of the techniques you see advertised are ineffective, and some can damage your penis. So think twice before trying any of them.
Penis size: What's normal, what's not?
The fear that your penis looks too small or is too small to satisfy your partner during sex is a common fear. But a number of studies have shown that most men who think their penises are too small actually have normal-sized penises. Similarly, studies suggest than many men have an exaggerated idea of what constitutes "normal" penis size. Consider that:
- The average penis measures somewhere between 3 and 5 inches (or about 8 to 13 centimeters) when not erect, and between 5 and 7 inches (13 to 18 centimeters) when erect.
- A penis is considered abnormally small only if it measures less than 3 inches (or about 7 centimeters) when erect, a condition called micropenis.
How partners view penis size
The popular media and advertisers would have you believe that your partner cares deeply about penis size. The issue of attraction is complex, but numerous studies suggest that penis size is much lower on the list of priorities for women than such issues as a man's personality. Unfortunately, there's little research about gay men's perceptions about their partners' penis size. But keep in mind that understanding your partner's needs and desires is more likely to improve your sexual relationship than trying to change the size of your penis.
Don't believe the hype
Companies offer many different types of nonsurgical penis-enlargement treatments, and often promote them with serious-looking advertisements that include endorsements from "scientific" researchers. But if you look closely, you'll see that claims of safety and effectiveness haven't been proved So, marketers rely on testimonials, skewed data and questionable before-and-after photos.
On close inspection of so-called sexual enhancement supplements, you may notice a sentence such as, "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)." Indeed, manufacturers don't have to provide evidence to the FDA of safety or effectiveness before putting dietary supplements on the market.
Most advertised penis-enlargement methods are ineffective, and some can cause permanent damage to your penis. Here are some of the most widely promoted products and techniques:
- Pills and lotions. These usually contain vitamins, minerals, herbs or hormones that claim to enlarge the penis. None of these products has been proved to work, and some may be harmful.
- Vacuum pumps. Because pumps draw blood into the penis and make it swell, they're sometimes used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Using a penis pump more often and for longer than typically used for erectile dysfunction can damage elastic tissue in the penis, leading to less-firm erections. Using a vacuum pump can create an illusion of a larger penis, but results are not permanent.
- Exercises. Sometimes called jelqing, these exercises use a hand-over-hand motion to push blood from the base to the head of your penis. Although this technique appears safer than other methods, it can lead to scar formation, pain and disfigurement. There are no scientific studies that indicate this technique is effective at increasing penis size.
- Stretching. Stretching consists of attaching a stretcher or extender device to the penis. These devices exert traction on the penis. A few small studies have reported increases of half an inch to almost an inch (about 1 to 2 cm) in length with these devices. However, the studies are not of high quality and more rigorous research is needed before this technique can be considered safe and effective.
(1 of 2)
- Colombo F, et al. Penile enlargement. Current Opinion in Urology. 2008;18:583.
- Mondaini N, et al. Penile length is normal in most men seeking penile lengthening procedures. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2002;14:283.
- Shamloul R. Treatment of men complaining of short penis. Urology. 2005;65:1183.
- Francken AB, et al. What importance do women attribute to the size of the penis? Journal of European Urology. 2002;42:426.
- Aghamir MK, et al. A vacuum device for penile elongation: Fact or fiction? BJU International. 2004;97:777.
- Vardi Y, et al. Is penile enlargement an ethical procedure for patients with a normal-sized penis? European Urology. 2006;49:609.
- Li C, et al. Penile suspensory ligament division for penile augmentation: Indications and results. European Urology. 2006;49:729.
- Vardi Y, et al. A critical analysis of penile enhancement procedures for patients with normal penile size: Surgical techniques. European Urology. 2008;54:1042.
- Vardi Y, et al. The status of penile enhancement procedures. Current Opinion in Urology. 2009;19:601.
- Wylie KR, et al. Penile size and the "small penis syndrome." BJU International. 2007;99:1449.
- Grov C, et al. The association between penis size and sexual health among men who have sex with men. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2010;39:788.
- Penile augmentation surgery. American Urological Association. http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/policy-statements/p/penile-augmentation-surgery.cfm. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Penile augmentation by fat injection. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. http://www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/men----penile-augmentation-by-fat-injection-%E2%80%94-asaps-position. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Oderda M, et al. Non-invasive methods of penile lengthening: Fact or fiction? BJU International. In Press. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Nugteren HM, et al. Penile enlargement: From medication to surgery. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. 2010;36:118.
- Miracle health claims: Add a dose of skepticism. Federal Trade Commission. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/health/hea07.shtm. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Zilbergeld B. The New Male Sexuality. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 1999:56.