Think you're smaller than average? You're probably not.
The typical erect penis is usually 5 to 6 inches long with a circumference of 4 to 5 inches. There's more variation in the size of flaccid penises.
Some guys are genuinely smaller than that. In rare cases, genetics and hormone problems cause a condition called micropenis -- an erect penis of under 3 inches. Sometimes Peyronie's disease or prostate cancer surgery can reduce a guy's size.
But studies show that most of the guys seeking penis enlargement are average-sized. They just think they're below average.
Why? Part of it is perspective. It's very hard to gauge the size of your own penis -- looking down, you've got a bad angle.
Psychology plays a role, too. Some average-sized guys become obsessed with the idea that they're too small. There's even a psychiatric diagnosis: penile dysmorphic disorder. It's similar to the perceptual distortion of anorexics who think they're fat no matter how thin they get.
According to one study, the majority of men who get penis enlargement surgery have this condition. They're also the least satisfied with the results.
The internet is awash with websites selling everything from pills to penis extenders that claim to increase the length and girth of your manhood. But do these treatments work?
Men's anxiety about penis size has spawned a multi-million-pound global industry in clinically unproven "male enhancement products".
While many men worry their penis is too small, research shows that most men's penises are normal and they needn't be concerned. Professor Kevan Wylie, a sexual medicine consultant, says men with concerns about their penis size should consider talking to a health professional before experimenting with treatments, which are mostly ineffective, expensive and potentially harmful.
"Many men who worry about the size of their penis generally have overall body image issues," he says. "What happens is that they tend to focus their poor body image on their penis.
"Often, counselling can make a real difference to the patient by building self-esteem, correcting distorted views about body image and learning more about what makes people attractive."
While you can't do much to safely enlarge your penis, men can do several things to make them feel more confident about their body.
Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta assesses the evidence, effectiveness and safety of different types of penis enlargement products and treatments on the market.
These products usually contain vitamins, minerals, herbs or hormones that claim to enlarge the penis. Despite their impressive claims, there's absolutely no clinical evidence that these products work and some may even be harmful. The University of Maryland in the US carried out an analysis on some of these and found traces of lead, pesticides, E. coli bacteria and animal faeces.
"They're a complete waste of time," says Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta. “Pills and lotions have no proven benefit. If they were effective, they would be on sale at chemists. Using a lotion may help a man become more familiar with his penis, which some men shy away from. So lotions can help a man become more comfortable with his penis but they certainly won't make it any bigger.”
Penis pumps involve placing a tube over the penis and then pumping out the air to create a vacuum. The vacuum draws blood into the penis and makes it swell. Vacuum devices are sometimes used in the short-term treatment of impotence. But overusing a penis pump can damage the tissue of the penis, leading to weaker erections.
"There is very little evidence that these devices cause any significant long-term gain in size," says Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta. "Using a pump for a few minutes a day won't do anything to increase penis size."
This technique involves placing a weight or a small extending frame, sometimes called a traction device, on the flaccid penis to stretch it. Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta says there is no clinical evidence that using weights will extend the penis, and they may cause permanent damage to the penis. However, better results have been reported with traction devices.
"There is some evidence that traction devices can have some impact, particularly with men who are smaller in size," he says. "Some patients using traction devices for six months have noticed a gain in size of 1-2cm. However, such treatments should not be started without the supervision of a doctor."
Jelqing is an exercise involving repeatedly pulling the flaccid penis using the thumb and index finger, with the aim of increasing erection size. The idea is that the pulling exercises will increase the blood capacity of the penis' erectile tissue, allegedly resulting in increased length and girth of the penis.
“Just like using lotions, this technique can help some men better appreciate the considerable difference in size between a flaccid penis and an erect one, which helps them become more comfortable with their body,” says Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta. “But there is no scientific evidence to suggest jelqing can increase penis size.”