TIME Sex

Add Inches!! (No, Really, Men Can Make It Longer)

Don’t worry, you didn’t just accidentally click on spam e-mail. Though most advertised penis-enlargement methods are bogus, a new review of 10 existing studies suggests that some nonsurgical techniques really can increase the length of a man’s organ.

Two urological researchers, Marco Ordera and Paolo Gontero of the University of Turin in Italy, examined outcomes from both surgical and nonsurgical procedures for “male enhancement” in previous studies. Half of the studies involved surgical procedures performed on 121 men; the other half involved nonsurgical enhancement techniques used by 109 men.

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The surgical treatments, the researchers found, were dangerous and had “unacceptably high rate of complications.” But among the nonsurgical methods, at least one appeared to help grow a man’s member: the “traction method,” in which a penile extender stretched the phallus daily, resulted in average growth of 0.7 in., or 1.8 cm, of the flaccid penis in one study. In another study of the same method, men reported an average increase of 0.9 in. (2.3 cm) in length while flaccid and 0.67 in. (1.7 cm) while erect.

These gains were hard-earned: in the first study, participants had to be in traction for four to six hours each day for a total of four months, and in the second study, the daily treatment lasted for six months.

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In another study of two erectile-dysfunction patients, researchers found that the use of penoscrotal rings, which fit around the scrotum and base of the penis, helped beef up size and maintain erection. But given the tiny sample size of the study, the results were inconclusive.

Reviewed data also suggested that a six-month regimen of daily penis pumping — using a pump to create a vacuum inside a cylinder to stretch the penis (think Austin Powers) — while painful, was not effective.

No matter the procedure, penis girth remained unchanged.

So it’s worth asking, guys, do you really need a bigger penis? Most men who seek treatment for the condition called “short penis” actually fall within normal penis size, the researchers found; their sense of what’s normal is simply warped. To qualify for the clinical definition of short-penis syndrome, a man must be smaller than 1.6 in. (4 cm) when limp and under 3 in. (7.6 cm) when erect. In a 2005 study of 92 men who sought treatment for short penis, researchers found that none qualified for the syndrome.

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Ironically, the problem may be associated with the same source of so many women’s feelings of inadequacy: porn. And, in the end, men seem to care about it a lot more than women do. According to sex counselor Ian Kerner, who posts on CNN’s The Chart blog:

If penis size really is an issue, it seems to matter more to men than to women. According to the British Journal of Urology, when researchers looked at more than 50 studies spanning the course of 60 years, they found that 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size — yet only 55% of men felt good about their penises!

That’s a big difference in perception, and in my personal opinion, this sense of male insecurity is only likely to increase in the wake of Internet porn. That’s because research shows that more than a third of men who incorrectly believe their penises are too small say their insecurity began by viewing erotic images during their teen years.

That’s not to say that size doesn’t matter at all. Kerner reports that “when pressed, the majority of women [according to a 2001 survey in BMC Women's Health] say that penis circumference is more important for pleasure than penis length.” Unfortunately, there’s no pump or extender that can help you in that department.

Like they say, it’s the size of your skills not your sex organ that matters. The current study was published in the journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

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