Penis stretching involves using techniques or devices to increase the size of the penis. Popular methods include stretching exercises, such as “jelqing,” and the use of traction devices or vacuum pumps.

There is little evidence to suggest that penis stretching methods work. If people do achieve results, these tend to be modest and temporary.

In this article, we look at the different methods of penis stretching and discuss the research behind them.

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Results from penis stretching exercises are usually modest and temporary.

The evidence for the use of stretching exercises is purely anecdotal. Scientific studies do not support manual penis stretching as an effective technique for increasing penile length or girth.

However, penis stretching exercises are noninvasive, inexpensive, and low risk. They may even help a person feel more comfortable with their body. As a result, some people may wish to try the following techniques:

Penis stretching

  1. Hold the penis head and pull the penis upward. Hold it stretched for 10 seconds.
  2. Pull it to the right and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Pull it to the left and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat up to twice daily.

Jelqing massage

  1. Form a circle shape around the base of the penis with the index finger and the thumb.
  2. Slowly tighten the circle until it exerts gentle pressure on the shaft of the penis.
  3. Then, move the circle gradually toward the head of the penis. The entire motion should take approximately 3–5 seconds. If it causes pain at any point, reduce the pressure.
  4. Repeat daily for up to 20 minutes.

Gentle pressure on the base

  1. Hold the penis head and pull the penis upward. Apply gentle but firm pressure to the area around the base of the penis. Hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Pull the penis to the left and apply pressure to the area to the right of the base. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Pull the penis to the right and apply pressure to the area to the left of the base. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat once daily for up to 2 minutes.

Exercise tips

Although penis stretching exercises are low risk, there are steps that a person can take to stay comfortable while trying them:

  • Avoid stretching the penis when erect — it should always be flaccid or semi-erect.
  • Apply lubrication, such as petroleum jelly or a natural oil, to the penis before trying any of the exercises.
  • Do not perform these exercises more than once or twice daily.
  • Stop immediately if an exercise causes pain or discomfort.
  • Discuss the use of these exercises with a doctor, especially if performing them regularly or for an extended period.

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A vacuum pump aims to increase blood flow to the penis.
Image credit: Bjoernnielsen, 2017.

Several penis stretching devices and other methods of enlargement are available on the market. According to the Urology Care Foundation, almost none of them work.

The evidence to support the effectiveness of each of these devices ranges from nonexistent to limited.

These devices include:

Vacuum pumps

A vacuum pump comprises a tube that fits over the penis. The user pumps air out of the tube, which causes blood to flow to the penis. Increased blood flow leads to swelling and an erection. People typically use vacuum pumps to treat erectile dysfunction.

Some people state that regular use of a vacuum pump will increase penis size, but research does not support this claim. A 2006 study reports that participants did not experience significant physical effects after 6 months of use. However, some users did gain psychological satisfaction from using the pump.

Penoscrotal rings

Penoscrotal rings fit around the base of the penis. They work by restricting blood flow to the penis to cause a stronger erection or to prolong an erection.

Some research suggests that using one of these rings while taking certain medications for erectile dysfunction — such as sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis) — may increase penis size in men with anxiety.

However, there are only two well-documented cases within current research showing these effects.

Penile extenders

Penile traction devices, or penis extenders, stretch the tissues in the penis to increase its length.

Some research indicates that these devices work. However, they require persistence and dedication to produce noticeable results.

A 2010 review of existing research suggests that penile extenders may produce effective lengthening of the penis, similar to the results that surgery can achieve. The authors say that this method may be preferable to surgery because it is effective and low risk.

One of the studies that the review included was a 2009 study that assessed the effects of one specific penile extender in 15 people. The researchers instructed the participants to use it for at least 4 hours each day for 6 months.

After this time, most people experienced a significant gain in length of 2.3 centimeters (cm) or 0.9 inches for a flaccid penis and 1.7 cm or 0.7 inches for an erect penis. Penile girth did not change significantly.

A 2011 study reports similar findings, with an average gain of 0.7 inches in length. It involved 23 participants using another specific penile extender for 3 months. They initially used the device for 4–6 hours a day for 14 days before extending their use to 9 hours a day for the remainder of the study.

Another review, from 2013, reports that traction devices may increase length and reduce deformities in those with Peyronie’s disease, a condition resulting from a buildup of scar tissue in the penis.

Individuals interested in trying a penile extender should note that most of these studies involved only small sample sizes. Other criticisms include selection bias, which means that the randomization of the study participants may not be sufficient, and researchers may select them to achieve a particular result.

More research is necessary to determine more accurately the safety and effectiveness of these devices.

According to the existing research, most penis exercises and stretching devices are relatively low risk.

However, improper techniques or overuse may result in damage to the tissues in the penis. This tissue damage could result in weaker erections.

People should always discuss the use of a stretching device with a doctor first. When using the device, it is important to follow the instructions carefully.

The side effects of exercises or devices can include:

  • broken blood vessels
  • itching, irritation, or redness
  • minor bruising
  • numbness

If side effects are severe or persist for more than a day or two, a person should see a doctor.

According to a study of more than 15,000 men from all over the world, the average penis length is:

  • 9.16 cm or 3.61 inches when flaccid
  • 13.12 cm or 5.17 inches when erect

Research shows that most people who seek treatment for a “short penis” overestimate the average penis length. The majority fall within the dimensions of the normal range of penis sizes.

Studies have also reported that most women are satisfied with the length of their partner’s penis.

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A doctor can offer advice if a person is worried about the shape or size of their penis.

People who are consistently worried about the size or shape of their penis can benefit from discussing the issue with a doctor. A doctor can offer advice and reassurance.

If a person has a physical or mental health condition, a doctor can provide a diagnosis and help put together a treatment plan.

In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people feel more comfortable about their body.

There are many techniques and devices available that people claim increase penis size. In most cases, there is no evidence to suggest that these exercises or products are effective.

With correct use, most methods of penis stretching are low risk. Some, such as exercises, may help people become more comfortable with the appearance of their penis.

Most people who have concerns about their penis size or shape fall within the normal ranges. However, anyone worried about the appearance or function of their penis should speak to a doctor.