Q&A: Is Bigger Better? Can You Enlarge A Penis?

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QUESTION: I know it has been asked a million times, but is bigger better? Do medical male enhancement products such as traction devices and extenders really provide the stated benefits? It is hard to find any real information on this other than from the manufacturer, but these products claimed to be designed by doctors, clinically tested, and certified.

Just because a question has been asked a million times does not mean that it shouldn’t be asked again. Times changes, products and their marketing change, and so does our scientific understanding.

That said, it is still true that there is no scientifically tested method of enlarging a man’s penis that is considered “safe and effective” by most major medical or scientific groups. Just because a product is marketed as being designed by a doctor or clinically tested does not mean that the claims or real. In fact, we once learned of a web site that claimed our research team had tested and approved a penis enlargement product – and that was definitely not true. As for being certified, by whom? We know of no scientific organization that certifies such products, and there are certainly no FDA-approved penis enlargement products.

Penis pumps are sometimes used to enlarge a man’s penis. Although they may provide some temporary swelling or inflammation, and the process of pumping may feel pleasurable as part of masturbation, we are not aware of any research suggesting that they safely or effectively enlarge a man’s penis. In fact, some men experience damage to their penis as a result of using penis pumps.

Surgeries are sometimes used to enlarge a man’s penis. Those surgeries that work to provide more length, for example, typically involve severing a suspensory ligament, causing the penis to hang lower from the body (which can create an unusual placement of the pubic hair in relation the base of the penis). Also, scar tissue may develop which can result in a shorter erection than a man originally had, or it may cause painful erections. Other procedures involve injecting fat into a man’s penis in order to cause an increase in perceived girth but this can cause a lumpy texture and, as the fat is absorbed into the body, it is likely that any added girth will likely disappear within a few months. As such, these procedures are generally not recommended.

Plus, to answer you first question, bigger is not necessarily better. In fact, sometimes men who have much larger than average penises report that they have trouble finding a partner who can comfortably have oral, vaginal or anal sex with them.

Much of a man or woman’s sexual skills involve learning about one’s own and one’s partner’s bodies, as well as being able to be intimate with another human being. When two partners are able to explore each other’s bodies, and to feel comfortable communicating with each other about likes and dislikes (both physically and emotionally), as well as expectations for a sexual experience, there are more possibilities for pleasure and satisfaction. You can’t get that just by adding an extra inch or two to a man’s penis.

You can learn more about a range of topics related to male and female sexuality on our web site (kinseyconfidential.org). You can also learn more about penis size, as well as men’s questions and curiosities related to size and performance issues, in A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis by David Friedman and The New Male Sexuality by Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld.

Originally published February 13, 2008.

Kinsey Confidential

is a service of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Sexual health experts answer your questions and provide newspaper columns and weekly podcasts.
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