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Many men live in fear that their penis suffers from Wizard of Oz syndrome—when it’s time to pull back the curtain, they’ll be revealed as rather…unimpressive. The reality is, most men who worry about their penis size are well within the normal range. The average penis is 5.16 inches erect. Nearly 90% of guys have a penis between 4 and 6 inches.
In a survey of 52,031 heterosexual men and women, researchers reported that 85% of women — 85%! — said they were satisfied with their partner’s penis size, but only 55% of men were satisfied with the size of their penis (Lever, 2006).
- When erect, the average penis is 5.16 inches. Nearly 90% of men have a penis between 4 and 6 inches.
- Research has shown that only 55% of men were satisfied with the size of their penis.
- Pornography and pop culture have caused some men to develop unrealistic expectations and disordered thinking about wanting a larger penis.
- Psychologists term this “small penis anxiety” or “penis dysmorphic disorder” (PDD).
- Many purported methods of enlarging the penis are risky and/or have significant drawbacks.
Seth Cohen, MD, a urologist with NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, frequently sees patients expressing concern about their size and asking about penis enlargements. “At the end of the day, what I really want to do is ask them, ‘Is this what your partner asked for, or is this something you thought they wanted?'” he says. “Oftentimes, it’s something we falsely believe our partner wants, but in actuality, they don’t give a shit. They just want sex.”
But if you insist: These are the most common procedures used, or touted, to increase penis size.
1. Penis enlargement surgery: length
In this procedure to increase penis size, the suspensory ligament, which fixes the penis to the pubic bone, is cut, increasing the perceived length of the penis. “The suspensory ligament suspends the penis just like the suspension on a bridge. If you cut the suspensory posts on a bridge, the bridge will lag lower,” says Cohen. “But I really don’t recommend it, because your erection will never point north again.”
2. Penis enlargement surgery: girth
Some doctors offer surgery in which the patient’s own fat is injected into the penis, or a substance like Alloderm — sterilized tissue harvested from cadavers — is wrapped under the skin of the penis like seaweed in a sushi roll, resulting in a girth increase. This is called “off-label use” — Alloderm is approved for burn therapy and reconstructive surgery, not penis enlargement, and there are reports in the medical literature (Solomon, 2013) of complications like infection and skin necrosis (Bruno, 2007).
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3. Penis injections
To enhance girth, some doctors inject temporary cosmetic fillers into the penis, similar to the fillers used on lips, brows and smile lines to plump them up. “I’ve never done this, but I’ve seen them done a few times,” says Cohen. “It really depends on the substances you use. Restylane and Juvederm are tried-and-true substances we use as fillers, on cheeks, chins and different areas in the body. They usually last around six months, and they get absorbed into the body. They’re not really tried-and-true tested on the penis. We just don’t have any data to say it works long-term.”
There is a significant potential downside to shooting fillers into your dick. “The penis is a very vascular organ, full of smooth muscle and spaces that hold blood,” says Cohen. “If you fill one area, it may look very blotchy in another area. So you get this sort of lumpy, bumpy effect that is probably not what people are looking for.”
4. Penis implants
Permanent implants placed under the skin of the penis have been available for decades for men with intractable ED. But in 2004, the FDA approved a silicone sleeve called Penuma for cosmetic enhancement. It costs $13,000. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at 400 men who had gotten Penuma implants; they experienced an 56.7% increase in girth, on average, and two years later, 81% of them reported “high” or “very high” satisfaction (Elist, 2018).
But you won’t find too many urologists who’ll recommend a penis implant for enlargement. “Penile implants are appropriate in men who have erectile dysfunction that doesn’t respond to more conservative therapies,” says Landon Trost, MD, a urologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “The issue with penile fillers or implants is that they have many side effects. Fillers and Penuma are generally not recommended by the far majority of sexual medicine specialists.”
5. Penile extenders
Penile extenders are traction devices that you strap to your flaccid penis and wear an extended time, usually several hours a day. This can result in penile lengthening, although it might take months to see results. “Nearly anything can be stretched in the body, including the penis, and that has been done for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years,” says Trost, who developed a traction device called RestoreX to help men with Peyronie’s Disease, a condition in which the penis becomes unnaturally bent.
In three randomized, controlled trials, nearly all men who used RestoreX experienced penile lengthening, says Trost. “Regarding penile girth, that is less well established,” he says. “There are no known therapies which have consistently shown an ability to increase penile girth outside of penile injections (fillers) or surgery.”
There’s plenty of info online about jelqing, or stretching exercises in which the flaccid penis is pulled and massaged with the fingers or a specially designed device. But results aren’t permanent, and jelqing comes with no small risk of injury. “I’ve had plenty of patients come to see me, post-jelqing, with neurological tears, so now they have a numb penis, or tearing and overstretching of the arteries and veins, so they have permanent ED,” says Cohen. “If you tear the microvasculature or microneurological input to the penis, no one can correct that.”
7. Penis pumps
Penis pumps — or vacuum devices that coax blood flow into the penis — will cause an erection, but they won’t permanently make your penis bigger. In a study published in the journal BJU International, 37 men used penis pumps for 20 minutes, three times a week, for six months. Researchers found that the participants’ mean penis length increased by only .3 cm (which was not statistically significant), the treatment was only 10% effective, and only 30% of the patients were satisfied (Aghamir, 2006).
Trost doesn’t even recommend them for ED treatment, because they might cause the disorder they’re being used to correct. “There is a question as to whether use of a vacuum device in younger men, who are trying to augment the penile girth, may result in some degree of erectile dysfunction,” says Trost. “In general, men who try vacuum devices for ED use them a few times and then put them on the shelf.”
8. Male enhancement pills
No matter how sweet the siren song of those “male enhancement pills” behind the bodega counter or in Google ads, they won’t make your penis bigger, science says. “There are no supplements out there that are going to grow the size of your penis,” says Cohen.
9. Losing weight
An easy way to make your penis look larger might be to lose weight — in overweight men, fat in the pubic area can protrude over the penis, making it look smaller. Extreme cases have earned the phenomenon a name: “buried penis syndrome.” See your health provider to discuss whether losing weight, improving your diet or getting more exercise can benefit your sexual health. All three have been associated with an improvement in erection quality and erectile dysfunction (ED).
10. Manscaping for a larger penis
An even easier way to make your penis look bigger is to trim your pubic hair. Cutting your pubes a bit closer to the base of the penis can make it appear to have more length. Naturally, you’ll want to exercise caution in this area. There are several “bodygrooming” shavers on the market; they include guards and attachments that can help you get a more even result and avoid any undesirable nicks and cuts in an extremely sensitive area.
Do you have penis dysmorphia?
The penis-enlargement industry, such as it is, has sprung up and continues to grow — so to speak — largely because porn and pop culture have caused some men to develop unrealistic expectations and disordered thinking about wanting a bigger penis. Psychologists term this “small penis anxiety” or “penis dysmorphic disorder” (PDD) — the irrational, unshakable belief that your size isn’t satisfactory (Veale, 2015). “This is something that gets stuck in our heads — you watch too much porn, and all the porn stars have these massive penises. But those are often also augmented or injected with different substances to give them an artificial erection,” says Cohen. “So don’t believe what you see on TV.”