The Truth About Penis Enlargement

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Penis size can be a sensitive issue for many men. Surgery, pills, traction devices, and injections are all methods that have been used to try to enlarge penis size, but these methods are generally only useful for men who have had trauma or a medical disorder affecting the function of the penis. A man's penis has important functions and a complex anatomy, which means that enlargement is tricky—and risky.

Penis Size Basics

A man's penis becomes erect during sexual arousal. There are many factors involved in sexual arousal, and penis size does not make a man more or less likely to become aroused or to perform sexually.

There are several structures within the penis that allow it to perform its main functions of urination and ejaculation:

  • The urethra carries urine from the bladder. It is a thin tube running throughout the penis and carrying urine out of the bladder. The urethra is part of the corpus spongiosum, which turns into the glans penis, or the helmet of the penis.
  • The erectile body is also known as the corpus cavernosum. It quickly fills with blood to achieve an erection prior to ejaculation.
  • The corpus cavernosum surrounds the corpus spongiosum, extends from just behind the glans to the pelvis, and splits into two chambers that attach to the right and left ischial tuberosity (the bones that men sit on).

Any procedure focused on making the penis larger can damage these structures, potentially causing sexual dysfunction, trouble urinating, or interfering with blood flow in the penis.

The penis grows throughout puberty in response to a testosterone hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Men continue to make DHT throughout life, but the penis stops growing toward the end of puberty. Flaccid penis size can decrease with age.

Penis Enlargement Options

There are several options that are advertised to men who are dissatisfied with the size of their penis. While these may be tempting if this is a concern for you, know that they will not help you achieve the goal you are aiming for and complication rates are high.

Topical Products

You may see advertisements for lotions, creams, or oils with claims of penile enlargement. Products that you can put on your penis may contain hormones, medications that increase blood flow, oils, or herbs, or vitamins. There is no evidence that any topical product can increase the size of your penis, and some may cause a skin reaction or skin irritation.

Exercises

There are physical exercises that have been used for penile enlargement. One idea behind these exercises is that repetitively rubbing the penis could increase blood flow, which had been considered as a possible way to enlarge the penis. A specific technique called jelqing involves massaging the penis, as if milking it, to increase blood flow. There is no physical exercise, including jelqing, that has been shown to increase penis size. In fact, rough exercise can cause injuries or scarring.

Supplements

There are many companies trying to sell pills to enhance penis size. At best, they won't affect you at all. At worst, they may contain drugs such as sildenafil, which can be dangerous for men with heart disease.

Most supplements increase nitric oxide levels such as l-citrulline or l-arginine, which may improve blood flow to the penis. While this could give a partial erection, it won't actually lengthen the penis.

Jelqing Device, Clamps, and Rings

Devices that wrap around the penis, placing a squeezing type of pressure, are advertised as methods of stretching it out. Some are suggested for use during an erection, and some for when you are not having an erection. The rationale behind these devices is based on the idea that forcing the skin and structures of the penis to narrow could allow it to lengthen. A specific device is also marketed for use during jelqing. There is no evidence that wrapping anything around your penis could allow it to lengthen, and these devices can cut off blood supply to your penis, causing permanent damage.

Penile Traction

There has never been an FDA-approved device for a penile extension, but devices have been advertised for men to attach weights to their penises with the objective of stretching out a couple more inches. A medical device called the Extender may improve penile length for men with Peyronie's disease, which is a change in the size or shape of the penis due to injury, but this device has not been studied in men without Peyronie's.

Vacuums and Pumps

These devices are placed over the penis, with the idea that pulling can lengthen the penis. There is no evidence that they work, and there is a chance of injury.

Surgery

There are no FDA-approved surgical treatments for penis enlargement, but this has not prevented patients and surgeons from going ahead with procedures anyway.

Penile implants are used for men with impotence, but they won't make the penis any bigger. Implant surgeons are limited by the stretched length of the penis. Surgeons have tried to lengthen the corpora cavernosa to place a bigger implant, but they can't make the urethra and spongiosum any longer.

Alternatively, surgeons have tried cutting off the ligaments that keep the penis anchored to the pubic bone. This procedure will cause the flaccid penis to drop lower, but won't actually lengthen the overall penis. When the penis dangles lower, it may look larger, but it will also be less stable during intercourse.

Surgeons have also tried skinning the penis back and wrapping artificial or biologic tissue around it to add to its girth. Men can get severe scarring that constricts the penis and makes intercourse difficult.

Injections

Some men get injections of their own fat or synthetic material to increase the size of the penile shaft, but as with the other procedures, this won't improve the function of the penis. it is unclear whether injections are safe and it has not been proven that they can increase penis size.

Injections of various oils and other materials have also been used, usually without medical supervision. These strategies can cause inflammation and infections, and there is no evidence that they work.

What You Can Do

While you can't make your penis bigger, there are a few strategies that can make it appear larger.

  • Lose weight: If you are overweight, those extra pounds can make your penis appear smaller. Losing weight can make your penis appear relatively larger.
  • Stay in shape: A muscular physique may add to this visual effect and make you feel more confident about the size of your penis.
  • Groom your pubic area: Shaving some of the hair around the penis could make the penis appear larger as well.

A Word From Verywell

For several reasons, many men overestimate the size of the average penis, which can lead them to feel unsatisfied with their own. Penis size itself does not have an impact on sexual satisfaction or function, but 10 percent of men who underestimate their own penis size do experience erectile dysfunction, regardless of whether the penis is smaller or larger than average.

If you are concerned about erectile dysfunction, be sure to see your doctor. Lifestyle changes and treatments may help. But if you are a healthy man who simply wants enlarge your penis, remember that there are no safe and effective methods of doing this. Save your money by avoiding products that promise otherwise, and consider seeking out a sexual medicine specialist in your area to discuss your concerns.

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