Do Exercises Actually Increase Penis Length or Girth?

You have good reason to be skeptical

Penis exercises and other enlargement methods get a lot of attention on the internet, with some people claiming you have as much control over the size of your penis as, say, your abs or thigh muscles. Some companies even market so-called "fitness accessories" and advice such as:

  • Exercises purported to increase length, girth, and hardness
  • Penis extenders that use traction
  • Vacuum penis pumps that force it to swell and fill with blood (a technique used to help treat erection problems)

Beyond that, injections and surgery may also be available to make your penis larger, but these more invasive methods are considered a last resort, risky, and only for those whose penis is truly smaller than average.

five tips for accepting penis size

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

In a culture where masculinity is often measured in inches, it's common for men to want a longer, thicker, and harder penis. But can that actually be achieved? The simple answer is usually no, but that's not all you need to know. A number of supposed "enhancement techniques" can cause changes to your penis that are far different from the ones you want.

Penis Exercise

The term "penis exercise" typically covers two types with different goals: penis stretching exercises said to add length, and "jelqing" exercises purported to increase your girth.

Why Most Products and Exercises Don't Work

Because the penis can enlarge and get hard, some people believe it's a muscle that can be pumped up like a bicep. And the more you pump, the bigger it will get, right? That sounds logical until you realize one key bit of information: The penis is not a muscle. Anatomically speaking, the human penis is made up of:

  • The corpora cavernosa: Two columns of erectile tissue containing tiny vessels that fill with blood during an erection, making the penis harder and longer
  • The corpus spongiosum: A smaller column of spongy tissue surrounding the urethra that keeps the urethra open during erections
  • The tunica albuginea: A sheath of connective tissue that encases the three columns

The only muscle involved in penis function is the external sphincter muscle at the root of the penis, which aids ejaculation and can be voluntarily used to control the flow of urine.

A 2020 review of the available studies on penis enlargement concluded that all techniques remain supported only by "scant, low-quality evidence." Because most men who seek enlargement fall within the average range for penis size, the researchers recommend counseling before any enlargement is attempted.

Because your penis isn't made of muscle, no exercise can increase its girth or length.

Risks of Penis Exercises and Extenders

Exercises and products claimed to enlarge your penis can do significant harm and even permanantly impair your ability to maintain an erection. Unless you're advised by your healthcare provider to use them for specific medical purposes, most of the exercises and products for enlargement won't help and can cause damage.

Manual Exercises

The two main manual exercises touted for penis enlargement are stretching for added length and jelqing, which involves regular penis massages, for added girth. Both techniques are based on the idea that massage creates micro-tears in your tissue, which your body then "fills in" through the healing process.

Stretching exercises, which are done while you're flaccid, generally involve gripping the head of the penis and pulling it upward, then holding for a while, possibly while applying pressure to the base of the penis at the same time. It's usually recommended that you do this at least once a day for a couple of minutes.

Jelqing involves putting your fingers in a ring around the base of your penis and squeezing until there's mild pressure on the shaft, then slowly moving the ring to the tip. This is recommended for up to 30 minutes a day.

These techniques haven't been studied, so the only information available about safety and effectiveness is anecdotal. In published interviews, many urologists have expressed concerns about the possibility of injury and loss of ability, including Peyronie's disease (a buildup of scar tissue that causes painful, curved erections) and erectile dysfunction.

If you want to try penis enlargement exercises, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you're not doing anything that could cause damage, and report any problems you may experience.

Flaccid 3.61 inches 3.66 inches
Erect 6 inches 5 inches
Sources: Prause, et al and Veale, et al

Traction Devices

Also based on the micro-tears theory, traction devices are an apparatus you regularly wear on your penis. A typical traction device looks like a complicated back or knee brace. It has a ring that fits snugly around the base of your penis, another that goes near the head, and adjustable bars down the side. They're supposed to gently pull on the penis to create micro-tears that then heal, therefore increasing length.

A 2015 study using a traction device reported that the device did result in modest increases in length, but with a mean of only about 1.5 centimeters when erect and no increase in girth. Researchers noted that participants were generally satisfied, but only modestly—and that's after wearing a device on the penis for between four and six hours every day for six months.

However, these devices may offer some medical benefits:

  • At the start of the 2015 study, 13 participants had mild erectile dysfunction, and nine of them reported normal function at the nine-month follow-up.
  • A 2016 review found evidence that penile traction therapy may be helpful for people with Peyronie's disease.
  • In a 2020 trial, researchers reported improvements in penis abnormalities such as penile indentation and hourglass deformity.

As far as extending length for those who think they're undersized, researchers called for studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods to establish what benefit, if any, traction offers.

Not enough research has been done to say these devices are safe for long-term use or whether any minor gains that may be achieved are lasting. Possible side effects are:

  • Bruising and discoloration
  • Blood clots

In many newer studies, no negative side effects or only mild, short-term side effects have been reported with traction devices. However, this may be due to the medical supervision of their use.

The devices can often be uncomfortable and cumbersome, which is a real drawback as you may need to wear them for several hours a day. However, at least one newer device has shown improvements with use only between 30 and 90 minutes a day.

If you're interested in penile traction therapy, talk to your healthcare provider and follow their advice regarding devices and how to use them

Tribal Elongation Practices

The effect of traction devices is sometimes compared to tribal practices that involve elongating the earlobes or necks through steadily applied pressure, and medical traction used for grafting skin and elongating limbs.

Penis Pumps or Vacuum Devices

Penis pumps (also called vacuum pumps or vacuum devices) are intended to help treat erectile dysfunction and improve penile recovery after surgery (such as radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer) by forcing blood into the penis, but they've developed a reputation for supposedly helping increase penis girth, and possibly even length, as well.

Vacuum pumps are essentially a tube with a device on the end that creates a vacuum by pumping air out of the tube. That draws blood into the penis and leads to an erection. You can then put a retaining band around the base of the penis to keep the blood inside it and remove the pump.

The 2019 review of enhancement methods concluded that vacuum devices did not increase size in any of the included studies. However, a study on rats released later did suggest that combining an enzyme called anti-lysyl oxidase (anti-LOX) with a vacuum device did increase penis length by almost 11%, and the combination of anti-LOX with the device was more successful than anti-LOX alone.

Researchers suggested this could be due to changes anti-LOX induced in the tunica albuginea (the sheath of connective tissue in the penis). As this is an animal study, it's far too early to assume the same would be true for humans. More research is needed.

Meanwhile, some men will tell you that vacuum pumps did increase the size of their penis after extensive daily use (usually for a year or more). It may be that they did get bigger, but likely not in the way they wanted to. Penis pumps can cause swelling due to tissue damage, which may temporarily make your penis look larger but also can impair its function.

When used excessively or inappropriately, a vacuum pump causes numerous unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Numbness
  • Bruising
  • Inability to ejaculate
  • Difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Pain
  • Coldness
  • Small red spots (called petechiae) from burst blood vessels under the skin
  • Weak erections

Before using a penis pump for any purpose, make sure you're using it properly and talk to your healthcare provider about you should realistically expect.

Silicone Injections and Surgery

Some men have taken to more invasive techniques such as injections of silcone or other substances, which includes risks such as:

  • Reactions to the foreign substance
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Penile distortion
  • Inflamed lumps (granulomas)
  • Repeat surgery

Another technique involves grafting your own liposuctioned fat into the penis to increase length and girth, but this can take multiple surgeries to be effective, as the graft can lose up to 80% of its volume in the first year.

Others have undergone lengthening surgery, which involves cutting the suspensory ligament that attaches the penis to the pelvic bone. While the length may increase by a few centimeters, studies show that outcomes are inconsistent, with patients and their partners being satisfied with results between 30% and 65% of the time. Complications include:

  • Losing length, possibly becoming shorter than pre-surgery
  • Difficulty with erections, including the penis hanging downward or off to the side when erect
  • Difficulty with penetration and penetrative sex

Accepting Your Penis Length

The facts are simple—once you've gone through adolescence and puberty, the penis length you have will most likely be what you have for the rest of your life. If you feel robbed because you think you're too small, what you need is not complicated devices, techniques, and surgery but acceptance.

Researchers have noted that most men who seek penile enhancement think they have a small penis when it's actually a perfectly normal size. They discourage you from considering potentially dangerous or invasive procedures due to the associated risks and modest gains. Studies have shown that counseling can help you accept that you're not abnormal and don't need to enlarge your penis.

Most men simply have the wrong concept of how big the average penis is and how they measure up. Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that 5.6 inches was the average among 1,661 American men and—most importantly—that most female and male ​partners were perfectly happy with that.

And bigger is not always better. According to one man's personal account of successful penis extension published in Men's Health magazine, his girlfriend didn't have more sexual pleasure due to his added length, but she did experience pain during certain sexual positions, which she hadn't before.

Still, if you'd like your penis to look bigger, you can do a few simple things:

  • Trim your public hair to make more of your shaft visible
  • Lose weight so you don't have a belly overshadowing your penis
  • Improve your posture by bringing your hips forward in alignment with your upper body

Improving Performance

Because most sexual partners care more about your skills than your penis size, focus on improving sexual performance by promoting good health habits, including:

  • Regular exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes

These will enhance your confidence and sex life more than any penis traction device can, and without nasty side effects. They can also improve the health of your blood vessels, and possibly testosterone levels, which may improve erections and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the penis a muscle? 

The penis is not a muscle. As such, exercises will not make it grow bigger, like a bicep. Erectile tissue, found in the corpora cavernosa, contains tiny blood vessels that fill with blood during an erection to make the penis firmer and longer.

Does Viagra increase penis size? 

No, Viagra (sildenafil) does not increase the size of a penis. However, for men who have difficulty achieving and sustaining an erection suitable for penetration, taking Viagra may make it seem like your penis is bigger, but that is only because the drug works to give you a better quality erection.

What is the average penis size?

The average length of a human adult penis is 6 inches long when erect and 3.61 inches long when flaccid. The average girth is 5 inches in circumference when erect and 3.66 inches when flaccid.

A Word From Verywell

American culture places a high importance on penis size, which makes a lot of men insecure about what nature has given them. But the truth is that size just isn't that important for sexual performance and you're probably closer to average than you think. You're better off working on accepting your penis size—through therapy if need be—and improving your skills as a lover than seeking out ways to make your penis bigger that may end up making it harder for you to perform sexually.

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17 Sources
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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