Marketers claim that extenders, vacuum devices, pills, and lotions can increase penis size. But do penis enlargement methods work?

Penis size is a common source of anxiety. It has fueled a multimillion-dollar penis enlargement, or male enhancement, industry. These include supplements, lotions, devices, and surgery.

However, there is no proven way to increase penis size, and some methods may have adverse effects.

This article will look at the types, effectiveness, and side effects of penis enlargement methods. It will also discuss average penis length and girth and when a person may wish to see their doctor.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Many males seek treatment to increase their penis size. However, research suggests that, in most cases, their penis is already within the “normal” range.

Various manufacturers claim that products, including pills, creams, and stretching devices, can increase penis size. Some people also consider surgery.

However, the Urology Care Foundation points out that none of these methods work.

A 2020 review found very little evidence to support penis enlargement in men with a small penis but no other health problems. The participants had all undergone treatment. However, most came to realize after the fact that their penis was a “normal” size. Most did not seek further treatment.

Surgery may help a person with a condition known as micropenis. However, it can be risky and is not certain to improve sexual satisfaction.

Here, we look at the evidence for various penis enlargement methods.

Traction devices

Traction devices aim to increase the length of the penis by stretching the penile tissue. A person places a weight or small extending frame on the flaccid penis to gently lengthen it.

Several studies have investigated the effects of traction devices, with varying results. Some results suggest that the devices can lengthen the penis by as much as 1–3 centimeters (cm) (0.4–1.2 inches [in]).

It is worth noting that the participants in these studies had a health condition, such as Peyronie’s disease, where there is a curvature of the penis, or prostate cancer.

In most of these trials, participants wore the devices for 4–6 hours a day. In one, they wore the devices for 9 hours a day.

The evidence concerning traction devices is, however, limited. Determining their safety and effectiveness will require more research, and the Urology Care Foundation currently does not support their use.

Vacuum devices

A vacuum device, also known as a penis pump, contains a tube that fits over the penis. Pumping out air creates a vacuum that draws blood into the penis, causing it to swell.

People usually use vacuum devices to treat erectile dysfunction. No scientific evidence suggests that they can increase penis size.

A 2020 review concluded that vacuum devices do not increase penis size.

Learn about the best pumps for erectile dysfunction.

Pills and lotions

Various pills and creams promise to increase penis size. They usually contain vitamins, minerals, herbs, or hormones.

However, there is no scientific evidence that any of these products can increase the size of the penis.

In fact, tests have shown that some of them contain harmful substances such as pesticides, lead, animal feces, and E. coli.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about male enhancement products that are contaminated or contain undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients.

Learn more about if supplements can help manage erectile dysfunction.

Jelqing

Jelqing is an exercise where a person repeatedly pulls the nonerect penis with their thumb and forefinger. It aims to stimulate blood flow, which may increase penis size during an erection.

As with other methods, it may help a person feel more comfortable with their penis. However, it is unlikely to increase in size. Possible adverse effects include bruising, pain, and fibrosis, or scarring, which could shorten the penis.

Learn more about jelqing and other penis stretching exercises.

A number of surgical options can boost the appearance and possibly the size of the penis.

Injecting fat cells

Penile augmentation involves injecting fat cells from elsewhere in the body into the penis. The aim is to increase girth, or width.

This can add an average of 2.39–2.65 cm (0.94–1.04 in) after 12 months.

However, possible side effects include:

  • swelling and distortion of the penis
  • disfigurement and scarring
  • lumpiness
  • infection

The graft can also lose 20–80% of the new volume within 1 year of surgery, so people may need multiple surgeries to achieve the desired result.

A 2020 review concluded that injections may increase girth. However, this came with a high complication rate.

Biodegradable frame

Another method for increasing girth, still in the experimental stage, involves pulling back the penis skin and wrapping a biodegradable scaffold, or frame, around the shaft.

The frame, which is biodegradable, uses substances derived from tissue cells.

Ligament release

The suspensory ligament anchors the penis to the pubic area and provides support during an erection.

In this surgery, the surgeon cuts the ligament to increase the length of the penis. They may also carry out a skin graft at the base of the penis to allow for the extra length.

However, cutting the ligament can lead to a lack of support for the penis during an erection. This can make penetration difficult during sex.

On average, suspensory ligament release can increase flaccid penis length by 1–3 cm (0.4–1.2 in). However, satisfaction rates for the individual and their partner range from only 30–65%. The lack of support during an erection can make penetration difficult.

The American Urological Association considers penile augmentation surgery neither safe nor effective.

Liposuction

If a person has high levels of fat in the lower abdomen, removing fat through liposuction can reveal a buried penis or make the penis look bigger. Bariatric surgery and abdominoplasty can also have this effect.

It can increase a person’s self-esteem. However, they will need to follow dietary and exercise recommendations to prevent the fat from returning.

Who should have surgery?

The medical community only deems surgery necessary if a person has a condition called micropenis. This is when an adult has a penis of 9.3 cm or shorter when stretched.

Micropenis usually results from hormonal factors, and it can occur with some genetic conditions.

A doctor will start by prescribing hormonal treatment. If this is not effective, they may suggest penile reconstruction surgery.

Learn more about penis enlargement surgery.

Scientists say that most men believe the average size of an erect penis is over 6 in.

However, a 2014 study, which included 15,521 men from around the world, determined that:

  • The average flaccid penis was 9.16 cm (3.61 inches [in]) long and 9.31 cm (3.66 in) in girth.
  • The average erect penis was 13.12 cm (5.16 in) long and 11.66 cm (4.59 in) in girth.

The authors estimated that 5% of men have an erect penis longer than 16 cm. In another 5%, the erect penis would be shorter than around 10 cm.

In 2019, a review of data found that the average erect penis measured 12.95–13.97 cm (5.1-5.5 in). However, after adjusting for bias, they concluded that the true figure is probably nearer the lower end.

The average stretched penis measured 12.98 cm (5.11 in).

The authors of a 2015 study found that, on average, females in cisgender relationships would prefer a long-term partner to have a penis 16 cm (6.3 in) in length and 12.2 cm (4.8 in) in girth.

This is larger than average. However, the authors noted that these judgments may be based on inaccurate memories of previous sexual partners.

Other researchers have suggested that the size of a male’s penis is not the most important factor for females in determining sexual satisfaction.

Learn more about if genital size affects sexual compatibility.

The risks of penis enlargement interventions vary according to the method.

They include:

  • distortion, swelling, and infection from surgery
  • damage to penile tissue, which may lead to weaker erections
  • a need to repeat the intervention to maintain girth, in the case of fat cell injections
  • an increase in concern and stress if the person does not see improvements
  • wasting money on products that do not work

Negative feelings about penis size can inhibit a person’s enjoyment of sex and quality of life.

Most penis enlargement methods do not increase penis size. However, the following tips may help prevent anxiety or enhance a person’s sex life without increasing penis size:

  • seeking counseling to help build self-esteem and correct distorted ideas related to body image
  • trimming the pubic hair to make the penis look larger
  • exercising regularly, which can help manage body weight and boost overall well-being, and may help improve erectile function
  • managing weight
  • seeking help for health conditions — such as depression or a heart condition — that may affect libido or the physical ability to be sexually active
  • following a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods and added fat and sugar
  • sharing concerns with a partner
  • trying new ways of having sex, such as engaging in oral sex or using sex toys during foreplay

If concerns about penis size affect a person’s quality of life, it may be a good idea to see a doctor. They can help decide if there is a health issue to address.

Excessive concern about penis size can lead to feelings of depression, sexual anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. The person may have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection and experience a lack of sexual satisfaction.

Small penis anxiety

People with this condition are often so concerned that others will consider their penis to be small that they do not want to get undressed around people.

Penile dysmorphophobia disorder

A person with penile dysmorphophobia disorder (PDD) consistently underestimates the size of their penis while overestimating the sizes of those belonging to others.

PDD is a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Body dysmorphic disorder

Males with BDD are more likely to have anxiety about their penis size and to seek treatment for penis enlargement than those without the disorder, research shows.

A person should see a doctor if they notice they are doing the following, which could be signs of BDD:

  • worrying excessively about penis size
  • having a frequent urge to compare with other people’s penises
  • experiencing strong concern about a possible defect, which others may not notice
  • feeling distressed about work, social life, or other aspects of life
  • thinking about or attempting suicide

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Here are some questions people often ask about penis enlargement.

Can you really enlarge your penis?

Various methods and products claim to enlarge the penis. However, there is no scientific evidence to show they work. Some may have adverse effects.

Are penis enlargement pills safe?

The FDA warns that many male enhancement products contain unsafe ingredients. A person should check with a doctor before using any vitamins, supplements, or other products for penis enlargement.

What are the risks of penis enlargement surgery?

Surgery is unlikely to significantly increase the size of the penis unless a person has a health condition, such as micropenis. Risks include distortion of the penis, scarring, and infection.

Many males are anxious about their penis size. This has fueled a huge market for enlargement products and techniques.

However, there is no scientific evidence that any of these methods are effective, and many come with serious risks.

Anyone concerned about the size of their penis may wish to talk with a doctor or sex therapist.