Penis-enlargement products: Do they work?

Tempted by products that claim to increase penis size? Get the facts about what to expect from male-enhancement pills, pumps, exercises and surgeries.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Ads for penis-enlargement products and procedures are everywhere. A plethora of pumps, pills, weights, exercises and surgeries claim to increase the length and width of your penis.

However, there's little scientific support for nonsurgical methods to enlarge the penis. And no reputable medical organization endorses penis surgery for purely cosmetic reasons.

Most of the techniques you see advertised are ineffective, and some can damage your penis. Think twice before trying any of them.

Penis size: What's normal, what's not?

The fear that your penis looks too small or is too small to satisfy your partner during sex is common. But studies have shown that most men who think their penises are too small actually have normal-sized penises. Similarly, studies suggest than many men have an exaggerated idea of what constitutes "normal" penis size.

Here are the facts:

  • The average penis measures somewhere between 3 and 5 inches (about 8 to 13 centimeters) when not erect, and between 5 and 7 inches (13 to 18 centimeters) when erect.
  • A penis is considered abnormally small only if it measures less than 3 inches (about 8 centimeters) when erect, a condition called micropenis.

How partners view penis size

Advertisers would have you believe that your partner cares deeply about penis size. If you're concerned, talk to your partner. Keep in mind that understanding your partner's needs and desires is more likely to improve your sexual relationship than changing the size of your penis.

Don't believe the hype

Companies offer many types of nonsurgical penis-enlargement treatments, and often promote them with serious-looking advertisements that include endorsements from "scientific" researchers. Look closely — you'll see that claims of safety and effectiveness haven't been proved.

Marketers rely on testimonials, skewed data and questionable before-and-after photos. Dietary supplements don't require approval by the Food and Drug Administration, so manufacturers don't have to prove safety or effectiveness.

Penis-enlargement products

Most advertised penis-enlargement methods are ineffective, and some can cause permanent damage to your penis. Here are some of the most widely promoted products and techniques:

  • Pills and lotions. These usually contain vitamins, minerals, herbs or hormones that manufacturers claim enlarge the penis. None of these products has been proved to work, and some may be harmful.
  • Vacuum pumps. Because pumps draw blood into the penis, making it swell, they're sometimes used to treat erectile dysfunction. A vacuum pump can make a penis look larger temporarily. But using one too often or too long can damage elastic tissue in the penis, leading to less firm erections.
  • Exercises. Sometimes called jelqing, these exercises use a hand-over-hand motion to push blood from the base to the head of your penis. Although this technique appears safer than other methods, there's no scientific proof it works, and it can lead to scar formation, pain and disfigurement.
  • Stretching. Stretching involves attaching a stretcher or extender device to the penis to exert traction. A few small studies have reported length increases of half an inch to almost an inch (about 1 to 2 centimeters) with these devices. However, the studies are not high quality. More rigorous research is needed to establish safety and effectiveness.
May. 28, 2014 See more In-depth