Penis Enlargement: Is There Anything That Works?

Options for penis enlargement range from sketchy to overly invasive. Losing weight can shrink the pubic fat pad, making the penis look longer, but aside from that, most men are best off learning to appreciate what nature gave them. 


Humans have been fascinated with male genitalia since at least the Upper Paleolithic era of roughly 10,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Cave paintings from this era have been found that depict penises in various states of arousal, and so have phalluses carved from materials like ivory. Archaeologists believe that the Upper Paleolithic was the time when procreation and sexuality began to be differentiated by humans, and that sexual activity during that era may have taken place for more than just reproductive purposes.

Men are far from immune to insecurities about their bodies, and penis size can be a major source of anxiety. In fact, psychiatrists have reported that for some men, reassurance that they fall well within the range of “normal” size makes no difference to their self-concept, because they have decided that they are somehow “inferior.”

What Are the Real Numbers?

So, what is average, in terms of size? Results of a survey were published in the British Journal of Urology International earlier this year. The survey covered over 15,000 men, from ages 17 to 91 from all over the world. Average erect penis length is 5.16 inches (13.12 cm), with an average circumference of 4.6 inches around (11.66 cm). In its flaccid state, average penis length was 3.6 inches (9.16 cm), and average circumference was 3.7 inches (9.31 cm).

According to researchers, only 2.28% of the male population has an abnormally small penis. An equal percentage has an unusually large one. The researchers even made a percentile graph so men can readily see where they fall in the range of sizes (both length and circumference). Yet there are countless products advertised online for helping men enlarge their equipment. Do they work?

Avoid Pills, Lotions, and Vacuum Pumps

You’ve probably seen ads for pills and lotions that supposedly enlarge the penis, but not one has been shown to work. Best case scenario is that you’ll lose some money on a worthless product. But keep in mind that “supplements” don’t always disclose what’s in them, and you could unknowingly ingest something that you have a bad reaction to. The same is true with lotions and creams. A cream that does nothing isn’t so bad, but a cream that causes an allergic reaction could result in significant discomfort.

Vacuum pumps are sometimes used as an assistive device for men who have erectile dysfunction (ED). You can buy a vacuum pump off Amazon for a few hundred dollars, and indeed they will temporarily make your penis look larger. After all, they’re designed to produce erections. However, using one too often, or for too long can actually damage elastic tissue in the penis, with the potential for less firm erections over time.

Phalloplasty for Length

Yes, there is such a thing as cosmetic surgery for the penis. A significant portion of the penis is inside the body, attached to the pubic bone by a ligament called the suspensory ligament. Cutting the suspensory ligament, and stretching the skin to accommodate added length can result in gains of up to 2.5 inches. Additionally, some men have liposuction on the pubic fat pad to make the penis appear larger by contrast. Though the suspensory ligament procedure has been performed for a long time, it’s not always easy to find a surgeon with the level of experience you would want before trusting them with your sex organs.

Surgical methods of enlarging the penis are not for the squeamish.


Phalloplasty for Girth

Adding circumference can be done too, but it’s trickier. One popular method uses “dermal matrix grafts” made from a substance called Belladerm. This is a human allograft skin that preserves the extracellular matrix without epidermal and dermal cells, and it’s provided by a tissue bank called the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, which has been around since 1987.

Belladerm grafts are inserted through pubic incisions, where they’re wrapped around the penis shaft under the skin and secured with sutures. Within a few weeks, new tissue grows onto the grafts, and typical gains generally range from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches in circumference. The procedure works best on circumcised penises.

The “Traction Method”

There’s a nonsurgical penis lengthening technique called the “traction method” that supposedly can add 0.7 to 0.9 inches. It’s not simple or quick, though. Users have to be in traction, with their penis inside a metal stretching device, for four to six hours a day for four to six months. Two Italian urologists at the University of Turin studied surgical versus non-surgical lengthening on 121 and 109 men respectively and found modest gains in length for traction patients. Traction does not affect circumference however.

How Losing Excess Weight Can Help

Men who are overweight have another option that, while it won’t actually increase the size of the penis, can make it look larger. It turns out that losing excess weight can reduce the size of the pubic fat pad and make the penis appear proportionally larger. Another tromp l’oeil technique that works for a lot of men is trimming back excess pubic hair that can hide part of the shaft of the penis. Overweight men who lose excess weight through healthy diet and exercise may find that as their cardiac health improves, erections become firmer as well.

Remember: There Are Plenty of Con Artists Who Would Love to Take Your Money

Probably as long as men have had insecurities about penis size, there have been people ready to prey on these insecurities in order to separate them from their money. It’s the perfect ploy: let men know they’re not alone in wishing their equipment was bigger, then offer an “all-natural” or “guaranteed” product to make it bigger. When the product turns out to be completely worthless, how many men are going to come forward and complain, drawing even more attention to their insecurity?

For men who are insecure about the quality of erections, fortunately there’s real medical help. PDE-5 inhibitor drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are designed to increase blood flow to the penis so men can have stronger erections, and they’ve helped tens of millions of men worldwide in the 15 years or so that they’ve been available.


It’s not uncommon for men to have occasional insecurities about penis size, particularly if they watch pornography and get the idea that the men in those videos are how they are “supposed” to look. Very few men have penises that are considered abnormally small, and loving partners tend not to care about a man’s measurements anyway. Options exist for enlarging penises, but they’re expensive, time-consuming, or both.

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