Overview: Jelqing is a regimen of penis-stretching exercises that supposedly originated in the Middle East. It has not been scientifically proven to have any effects, but it also doesn’t appear to have any negative ones if done correctly.
Jelqing: What Is It?
- The name is supposedly a corruption of the Persian term “jalq zadan” where “jelq” means “to masturbate” and “zadan” means to strike, hit, or throb.
- Also called “milking,” generally the technique involves applying lubricant, forming a strong ring with finger and thumb around the base of a half-erect penis and pulling the ring to the corona, just under the glans, firmly but gently. Hold it there while you begin repeating the process with the other hand.
- Usually this is done for five to 20 minutes, two to five days a week. Claims of results can range from weeks to months to even years.
- There’s no scientific evidence that jelqing, or any other penis enlargement technique, works, although there are many anecdotal reports claiming it does.
Is Jelqing Dangerous?
Jelqing advocates note that it’s not dangerous if done correctly, but there is risk of bruising, fibrosis, and other injuries it’s does too hard, too long, too often, or with a fully erect penis. Practitioners recommend starting with a manageable schedule, giving your body rest breaks, and stopping if you become fully erect.
There may be some temporary symptoms that aren’t painful but can be unnerving. One of these is the “donut,” where fluid is retained by the penis and forms a donut shape underneath the glans. But by and large, the anecdotal reports offer no concerns.
How Does Jelqing Work?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to possible mechanisms of action with jelqing. The first is that by stretching the penis, you’re stimulating its cells to grow, which is scientifically questionable. While some cells can, in fact, divide under tension, the penis consists of multiple different parts, and not all of them would be stretched by the technique. This is especially true of the deeper structures like the urethra, which would necessarily need to stretch as well.
Furthermore, for all the anecdotal reports, there are plenty of others claiming the exact opposite. Stretching out the penis has supposedly long been practiced by monastic and ascetic orders. The idea was to prevent erections by damaging the penis without castration. These are generally just as unconfirmed as other anecdotal reports, however impressive videos of holy men dragging around heavy objects with their genitals might be. (Gentlemen, we DO NOT recommend trying this at home!)
The second is that jelqing encourages more blood flow to the penis. The theory is that by trapping blood in the penis, it opens up the blood vessels, expanding them over time. This is similar to other penis enlargement devices such as vacuum pumps that pull blood into the penis, just with less equipment.
Does it work? Once again, the jury is still out. It may work temporarily, as forcing more blood into the penis can expand its size. But once the blood leaves, so does the increase in size.
It also should be noted that anything that will generally improve your circulation could likely achieve the same effect. Quitting smoking, regular exercise, a diet heavier in vegetables and lean proteins, reducing alcohol consumption, and weight loss will improve your circulation, and will have other health benefits.
Is Jelqing A Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Again, this leaves us in the realm of the untested. It’s fair to note that many ED medications, such as Viagra, are PDE5 inhibitors. They block an enzyme that acts to constrict blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow into the penis.
In theory, jelqing would function the same way, although it should be noted that it’s not recommended to have sex after a jelqing session, and performing it may be inconvenient for spontaneous lovemaking.
This, in turn, brings us to the placebo effect. While ED can and does have physical causes, there will also be an emotional component, and jelqing may work simply by giving men the feeling a sense of power. Actively feeling like you’re working towards solving the issue can help, regardless of the evidence. And there is some evidence, which still needs further study, that traditional medicine has a place alongside modern approaches.
Perhaps the most extreme example of this is a subset of body dysmorphic disorder called penis dysmorphic disorder (PDD), known colloquially as “small penis syndrome.” Despite the name, this is a psychological condition where men believe they have an unusually small penis and can’t be convinced otherwise.
There are many, many theories about where PDD comes from, ranging from men comparing themselves to other penises they see, such as in pornography, to it being a manifestation of deeper fears and concerns around masculinity.
In this scenario, jelqing might help patients learn to accept their penis size, or, despite gains being only temporary, encourage them to believe that it’s grown when it hasn’t.
Should I Try Jelqing?
Whether you should try this technique really depends on your goals and what you care about. Unless it’s done incorrectly, it’s non-invasive, low-cost, and low-risk, so medically speaking, there’s no particular reason not to. That said there are a few caveats:
- You should avoid the technique if you’re prone to bruising or take medication such as blood thinners that makes you bruise more easily or if your ED has a known medical issue, such as nerve damage from prostate surgery.
- You shouldn’t start with the technique until you’ve mitigated other risk factors for cardiovascular-related ED as much as possible, as those have proven benefits for your overall health.
- Emotional health is also important and should be cared for, as well. Jelqing may bring up issues of masculinity you’ll want to talk over with a professional or a support group.
- You should discuss jelqing with your doctor before you start to ensure there are no other issues or concerns.
But if you’re changing your lifestyle, working with your doctor, and getting the support you need, there’s no harm in trying the technique. Remember, you are your own best advocate as a patient.
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Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.