It's a tale as old as time. For centuries now, men have been unhappy about the size of their penises and seeking to enlarge them – no matter the means or cost.

The fascination (or rather obsession) with the male member actually stretches back thousands of years. In 3300 BC, the Egyptians produced a statue for one of their gods, Min, who is portrayed with a sizeable erect penis in his hand. The British Museum in London has a sculpture on display from the Neolithic era, about 11,000 years ago, that depicts two lovers with phallic heads (which is part of its LGBTQ Trail).

Some say that rapid social changes following World War II and the general liberalization that occurred during that time accelerated Western society’s obsession with large, or rather not big enough, penises.

While many men worry about their penises being too small, research shows that most penises are average-sized, functioning adequately for sexual intercourse and urination. In numerous studies, the combined mean length of erect penises was 5.36 inches (13.61 cm), while for stretched/non-erect penises, it was approximately 5.11 inches (12.98 cm). Some volunteers may have overreported their measurements, so the average length is probably even lower. So, if you fall close to average, your penis is considered perfectly normal.

Why Men Want a Larger Penis

Psychological Reasons, Penile Dysmorphic Disorder

Societal pressure and pop culture’s glorification of huge penises may lead men to believe that their penis is smaller than average. As a matter of fact, the same study we referenced above points out that several oft-cited studies rely on self-reported measurements and incorrectly claim an average erect penis of 6.2 inches (15.75 cm) or more. No wonder why so many men are so insecure!

But a little insecurity is different from a penis size obsession that interferes with quality of life. These men are typically diagnosed with Penile Dysmorphic Disorder (PDD), also known as ‘small-penis syndrome.’ PDD is a type of body dysmorphic disorder that refers to a gross worry over “one’s penis size within normal range,” with patients usually exhibiting “repetitive and compulsive behaviors,” such as seeking and receiving medical procedures. Counseling has proven effective for many people suffering from PDD and aims to help patients understand that their penis size is normal and does not require medical attention.

Physical Reasons

In stark contrast with the psychological reasons mentioned above, some men are indeed born with smaller-than-usual penises and sometimes abnormally small penises. A penis that measures less than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean for age when on full stretch is considered to be a micropenis or microphallus. In adult men, that means a stretched penile length of 3.67 inches or less. Having a micropenis may cause issues with urination, sexual intercourse, and the ability to conceive naturally. According to certain medical associations, such as the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), penis enlargement surgery is only considered necessary and appropriate if a person has a micropenis.

Other physical conditions may require medical attention. These include Buried Penis (a normal-sized penis that is ‘buried’ in pelvic fat), hypospadias (a condition where the urethral opening is not located at the tip of the penis), Peyronie’s Disease (a condition where plaques form within the penis causing pain and curvature), and reduced penis size caused by radical prostatectomies when the prostate gland is removed for cancer.

Penis Stretching: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Manual penis stretching refers to several techniques of massaging the tissues along the length of your penis in order to stretch the skin and essentially cause micro-tears. As the tissues heal, they may appear swollen, making your penis look longer. Other manual exercises that involve a tissue massage are intended to increase the girth of your penis, often called “jelqing.”

The most common technique involves pulling your penis upward and stretching it for about 10 seconds and then doing the same while pulling it to the left and then to the right. These steps are repeated once or twice every day for about 5 minutes. Men who “jelq” their penis will place their index finger and thumb in an O shape around the base of their penis and then put mild pressure on their shaft while moving their fingers to the tip. This is supposed to be done once a day for roughly 30 minutes.

But remember – there is no evidence that these techniques make your penis longer or thicker. If you’re not careful, you may (permanently) damage it (e.g., impacting your ability to get an erection).

Also, remember – there are plenty of penis stretching devices on the market that essentially mirror the concept outlined above but are a lot more powerful and potentially dangerous. Therefore, we advocate against their use. These include penile clamps and rings, which may cut off blood flow, cause nerve damage, or lead to hematomas and bruises.

Penile Traction Therapy and Peyronie’s Disease

Penile traction therapy is sometimes used to treat Peyronie’s Disease (PD). As we mentioned before, PD is a condition where plaques form within the penis, which often leads to pain, penile curvature, penile shortening, and sexual dysfunction. Interestingly, PD can affect men of all ages. Penile traction therapy – which must be prescribed and monitored by a urologist – requires patients to wear a medical-grade traction device for a set amount of time every day, often for several months. The force essentially kicks off a biomechanical process that remodels the scar tissue and can improve both curvature and length. It is considered the only non-surgical method that can potentially increase penile length.

Vacuums and Penis Pumps

Vacuums and penis pumps are essentially the same thing and are used to help induce or maintain an erection. The device is placed over the penis to create a vacuum to increase blood flow to the penis. Once engorged, a penis ring is sometimes used to keep the blood in place. Some also use these devices in an attempt to increase penile length.

While pumps may make your penis appear thicker/fuller, they won’t increase the length. It’s important to be careful with these because they can cause injury if used too long or if the suction is too powerful. An injury can lead to erectile dysfunction and reduced sensitivity.

Penile Implants

There are a few different types of penile implants: the two main ones are Inflatable Penile Prosthesis (IPP) and silicone implants.

IPPs are used to treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Peyronie’s Disease (PD). They allow men to regain full sexual function but will not increase penile length. A surgeon will place two cylinders inside the penis, a pump inside the scrotum, and a saline-filled reservoir in the lower abdomen during this relatively quick procedure. To get an erection, you would squeeze the pump to move the saline into the two cylinders, which will result in a very natural-feeling erection. A button on the pump will deflate the device, letting the saline solution flow back into the reservoir.

Silicone implants are considered cosmetic penis enhancements and are not used to treat ED or PD. The only FDA-approved procedure is the Penuma procedure, which involves a surgeon placing a crescent-shaped piece of silicone under the skin of the penis to increase girth.

At Peak Men’s Health, our lead urologist Dr. Philip Cheng is a skilled surgeon who can counsel you on effective ways to treat your ED or PD and advise you on safe ways to increase the size of your penis.

Penis Enhancing Supplements (Over-the-Counter, or OTC, Therapies)

Countless over-the-counter pills, supplements, creams, and lotions claim to enlarge your penis, enhance your sexual performance, or promote an erection. It’s important to remember that there is no clinical evidence that they work – and in the worst case, they contain untested substances, contaminants, or traces of prescription drugs that can make you sick. We strongly recommend against their use.

If you are interested in medication for erectile dysfunction, there are prescription drugs that can help you get and keep an erection, but these do not make your penis larger. A doctor can help you choose the proper treatment for you.

Natural and Herbal Remedies

“All-natural” and herbal supplements are not FDA-approved for treating ED or enhancing your penis. Popular herbs include Panax ginseng, maca, yohimbine, ginkgo, and mondia whitei. Similar to OTC therapies, these treatments are unregulated and can lead to adverse reactions and side effects, such as low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and interactions with other medications you may be taking.

If you’re looking for proven ED treatments, the best route is to avoid the gas station sex pill aisle, avoid the sensationalist claims you find online, and avoid anything that seems too good to be true – instead, make an appointment with a urologist, who can provide safe and effective treatment in a short amount of time.

Your friend down under will thank you for it.