Do Penis Exercises Actually Increase Length or Girth?

You have good reason to be skeptical

"Penis exercise" is a term that suggests you can "build" the length and girth of your penis in the same way you build muscles in your arms, legs, and chest. The penis is not a muscle, though. It has the appearance of a muscle because it becomes hard during an erection, but it is made mostly of spongy tissue. As such, a penis can't be built up or bulked the way a true muscle can.

Manufacturers of "penis exercise" devices use the term to imply that you can make your penis larger by using their products. Some even market these products as "fitness accessories." Keep in mind that there is currently no scientific evidence that supports the use of these devices. In some cases, they may even cause irreversible damage to the penis.

five tips for accepting penis size

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This article takes an unbiased look at penis exercise techniques, including those that can potentially increase penis size and those that can't. It also puts the topic of penis size into perspective and explains why enlargement is not needed for most people with a penis.

Is the Penis a Muscle?

The penis is not a muscle, even though it can get bigger and hard like a muscle. Anatomically speaking, the human penis is made up of three key structures:

  • Corpora cavernosa: Two spongy columns of tissue within the penis that engorge with blood to create an erection
  • Corpus spongiosum: A smaller column of spongy tissue that keeps the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the body) open during an erection
  • Tunica albuginea: A thin layer of connective tissue that encases the three columns

Erectile tissue inside the penis contains tiny blood vessels that fill with blood during an erection to make the penis firmer and longer.

The only muscle involved in penis function is the external sphincter muscle at the root of the penis. The external sphincter helps you "hold it in" if you need to urinate and also aids in maintaining an erection.

Because the penis is not a muscle, it doesn't respond to exercise the way true muscles do. Still, there are a number of "penis exercises" that some people believe can help increase length and girth.

Manual Penis Exercises

There are two main manual exercises that are said to increase penis size:

  • Penile stretching: The use of repetitive manual stretching to extend the length of a penis
  • Jelqing: The use of penis constriction and massage for added girth

Both techniques are based on the notion that massage creates "micro-tears" in the tissues of the penis. Over time, the body will "fill in" the gap with scar tissue that can increase the penis size.

Penis Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are done while the penis is flaccid (soft). They generally involve gripping the head of the penis and pulling the penis upward. As the penis is stretched, pressure may be applied in the opposite direction at the base of the penis. The position is then held for several minutes. This is usually done at least once a day.


Jelqing is an ancient Arabic technique said to increase girth. It is done by grasping the base of the penis and then slowly moving your hand up the shaft with consistent, moderate pressure. This is recommended for up to 30 minutes a day.

A 2017 study published in Translational Andrology and Urology concluded that no studies were available to support the use of jelqing or other penile exercises. It did, however, report that these practices can lead to bruising, pain, and scarring.

Penile Traction Devices

Penile traction is a technique also based on the micro-tear theory. A typical traction device looks like a complicated back or knee brace. It has a ring that fits snugly around the base of the penis, another that goes near the head, and adjustable bars down the side.

Penile traction devices work by gradually extending the space between the ring at the base of the penis and the ring at the head of the penis.

A small study published in 2015 reported that penis traction did deliver modest increases in length (around 1.5 centimeters when erect) but did not increase girth. Participants were "moderately" satisfied, but only achieved results after wearing the device four to six hours per day for six months.

Other studies suggest that penile traction may offer other benefits as well as risks:

  • The same 2015 study reported that nine of 13 participants with mild erectile dysfunction had improvements in their erections after using a penile traction device for nine months.
  • A 2016 review of studies concluded that penile traction could be helpful for people with Peyronie's disease (the abnormal curve of the penis that tends to develop later in life).
  • In contrast, a 2020 study reported that penile traction in people with Peyronie's disease can lead to problems such as bruising, blood clots, discoloration, penile indentations, and an hourglass deformity.

Can Viagra Increase Penis Size?

Viagra (sildenafil) does not increase the size of a penis. It is used to treat erectile dysfunction and helps people with a penis achieve and sustain an erection suitable for penetration. Once the effects of the drug have waned, the penis will return to its regular flaccid size.

Penis Pumps

Penis pumps, also called vacuum pumps, are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction and improve recovery after certain surgeries (such as radical prostate surgery). They work by forcing blood into the penis.

In recent years, penis pumps have gained a reputation for increasing penis girth and possibly length.

A penis pump is an enclosed tube with a device that suctions air out of the tube. This draws blood into the penis and can lead to an erection. You can then put a retaining band around the base of the penis (called an erection ring or "cock ring") to keep the blood within the penis and sustain the erection.

It is thought that by using the pump for an extended time, micro-tears may develop that may increase the size of a penis over time. To date, there is no evidence of this.

A 2019 review of studies in Sexual Medicine Review concluded that vacuum pumps did not increase the length of the penis in any of the included studies. In some people, they did provide a modest increase in girth—not of the penis itself but of the surrounding skin. These gains were eventually lost, however, once the treatment was stopped.

The aggressive use or overuse of penis pumps can cause blood clots, scarring, and nerve injury that may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Do Penis Enlargement Techniques Work?

A 2020 review of the studies concluded that all penis enlargement techniques are supported by "scant, low-quality evidence."

Accepting Your Penis Length

Once you've gone through adolescence and puberty, your penis length will most likely be what you have for the rest of your life.

It is also important to note that most men who seek penis enhancement think they are "small" when their penis is actually normal size. Researchers advise against pursuing enlargement as the gains will most likely be modest and the hazards may be greater than the benefits.

Studies have shown that counseling can help people with penises accept that they are not abnormal. The majority of those counseled do not pursue penis enlargement.

Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that the average length of an erect penis among people in the United States is 5.6 inches. More importantly, the study showed that most people were perfectly happy with their partner's penis size and were more likely to complain if a penis was "too large."

What You Can Do

There are ways to enhance how your penis looks without actually changing its physical size. If you would like your penis to look bigger, you can do a few simple things:

  • Trim your public hair to make more of your shaft visible. Some people refer to this as "manscaping."
  • Lose weight so your belly is less likely to overshadow the penis.
  • Improve your posture by bringing your hips forward in alignment with your upper body. A slumped posture may conceal the penis.

Because most partners care more about sexual skills than penis size, focus on enhancing your sexual performance by exercising regularly and maintaining an ideal weight. You should also avoid alcohol before sex and quit smoking, both of which can interfere with your ability to achieve and sustain an erection.


The term "penis exercise" is used to describe devices or techniques that claim to increase the length or girth of a penis. This includes manual penile stretching, jelqing, penile traction devices, and vacuum penis pumps. To date, there is little evidence that any of these techniques can make a significant impact on penis size. In fact, some, like traction devices and penis pumps, can damage the penis if overused or used aggressively.

Studies have shown that most people who pursue penis enlargement are actually of average size and only think they are small. Counseling can help people overcome this concern.

If you want to enhance the appearance of your penis, consider losing weight, improving your posture, and trimming excess pubic hair ("manscaping"). You should also quit smoking and avoid alcohol before sex, both of which affect your ability to get or sustain an erection.

A Word From Verywell

There are cases in which the size of a penis can cause problems. This includes having a micropenis (defined as an adult penis that measures less than 2.75 inches when erect). In instances like this, the size of the penis may affect a person's ability to conceive or achieve orgasm with a partner.

The treatment of a micropenis may involve counseling, assisted fertility, sex therapy, penis augmentation, or a combination of these based on the individual's or couple's needs. A specialist called a urologist can help.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jerry Kennard
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.