Super Size My Penis: Which Male Enhancement Methods Work and Don't Work?
Lawrence Barraclough has a three-and-a-half-inch erect penis.
While it's nothing to brag about, Barraclough's penis was the subject of two BBC3 documentaries, My Penis and I (2005) and the follow-up My Penis and Everyone Else's (2007). In both of these documentaries, Barraclough tried to come to terms with the size of his own penis while exploring perceptions about penis size.
Many men are insecure about the size of their penis. According to a 2005 study cited in My Penis and Everyone Else's, approximately 45 percent of all men are not satisfied with the size of their penis. Barraclough is quick to add, however, that 84 percent of the men who participated in the study had average-sized penises.
This desire for a larger penis has led to the development of various contraptions, supplements, and surgeries to increase penis length and girth. Not all of them work, and even those that do work may not be as effective as one would hope. Given that body consciousness has become more prevalent in men over time, it's no wonder that so many solutions are available in, if you can excuse the phrase, the battle of the bulge.
Penis on the Brain: Some Causes of Penis Size Insecurity
The average size of an erect penis is generally between five
and seven inches. Yet there are a lot of factors that make the average seem not
quite good enough.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors influencing perceptions of penis size is pornography. Major performers such as John Holmes and Ron Jeremy measured approximately 11 inches and 9.75 inches, respectively. One penis-size FAQ I stumbled upon suggested that while Holmes and Jeremy were standouts, most porn stars are only slightly larger than average but look bigger on the screen. They say the camera adds ten pounds and apparently they're right.
Since most men are more likely to see porn-star penises than their friends' penises--though this may depend on the company you keep--it's easy to develop an exaggerated sense of inadequacy. The fact is that average men will almost never measure up to standout porn stars in the same way that the Washington Generals will almost never beat the Harlem Globetrotters. (The last time this happened was on January 5, 1971.)
Beyond porn, there are images and messages pervading the media which may cause men to think about their penises more than they intend. On television, there are commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs: middle-aged men sing the praises of Viagra® to the tune of "Viva Las Vegas"; they pop a Cialis® and sit with their spouses in abandoned bathtubs; they talk to us directly about cholesterol, diabetes, ED, and Levitra®. In those Enzyte® male enhancement ads, creepy men, seemingly borne from unaired 50s sitcoms, grin uncontrollably over theremin-like whistling. On Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg sang about the best gift of all: a dick in a box. The tagline for the lackluster 1998 remake of Godzilla was "Size does matter." And when I look at the album cover of Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, something inevitably catches my eye.
There may be some aesthetic concerns involved in male body perception as well. Some of the most famous analogues to the female anatomy in art and pop culture come from the elegant flora of Georgia O'Keeffe. Conversely, perhaps the most famous analogue to the male anatomy is the H. R. Giger-designed creature from the movie Alien. Indeed, in the cult British sci-fi/comedy show Red Dwarf, they go so far to describe the penis as having "the last chicken in the shop look."
Reported in The Sun, a recent non-scientific poll found that women in Britain think that men named Dave are the most well-endowed while men named Ray are the least well-endowed. As amusing as that survey is (except to people named Ray), it goes to show just how penis-obsessed some of us are.
Penis in a Box: Penis Pumps
Penis pumps stand like sentinels in the adult toy and video
shops of the world; bright-colored, imposing, somewhat funny looking, kind of
like the Swiss Guard in Vatican City.
Hunky men and scantily clad women adorn their boxes, their faces hungry and
anxious, though on the Ron Jeremy-endorsed penis pump, he simply looks happy
(and hungry). The boxes bear names like "Colt Buckshot Penis Pump",
"Special Ops Ammo Pump", "Head Coach Erection Pump", and
"Hard Man's Tool Kit."
A penis pump consists of a cylinder and a manual or motorized pump. The cylinder fits over the penis and the pump is used to create vacuum suction which causes the penis to become engorged with blood.
On May 24, 2007, The Mayo Clinic issued an article regarding penis enlargement techniques and noted that while penis pumps can help in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, the enlargement results are rarely permanent. The article also noted that repeated use of penis pumps can cause damage to the elastic tissue in the penis. Adding irony to injury, damage to the elastic tissue in the penis can result in less firm erections.
A number of other injuries may be caused by excessive use of a penis pump. If someone overpumps or pumps too quickly, it could result in a burst blood vessel or even blisters. Some serious injuries may also be caused if the testicles are pulled into the cylinder or if the rim of the cylinder cuts into the skin surrounding the penis.
Based on the claims of The Mayo Clinic and the potential for serious injury, it appears that penis pumps should only be used to help men suffering from impotence. In terms of providing permanent penis enlargement, penis pumps really do suck.
Penis in Traction: Penis Stretching Devices
Apart from penis pumps, there are also penis extender systems
such as the SizeGenetics system and FastSize® system. Such devices look like
bizarre orthodontic headgear. All of these systems work like the plates the
Mursi women of Ethiopia
use to stretch their lips and earlobes. It's all a matter of traction.
The claim is that by harnessing your penis and consistently stretching it out, the cells in the chambers of the penis will divide and multiply, thus adding tissue mass. The SizeGenetics system claims that it can increase penis length and girth by approximately 30 percent. The FastSize® system traces its methodology back to ancient Egypt, where pharaohs (apparently with nothing better to do) hung weights from their penises to increase length. Like a warped version of The World's Strongest Man competition, the site continues:
"The practice is likewise evident in certain African tribes such as the Karamojong of the northeastern Uganda. At puberty, a Karamojong boy was said to hang stone disks from the tip of his penis. More and more disks are added until it reaches to about 20 pounds by the time he is a teenager. By then, his penis could measure up to 18 inches or longer."
The efficacy of these penis extender systems is suspect, however. While it's easy to find positive customer reviews of these systems, it's difficult to find ones that read like legitimate reviews. Most read like blatant advertising. And, as with penis pumps, the Mayo Clinic doubts the effectiveness of these traction devices, noting that there are no scientific studies that can back up the claims of such stretching techniques.
Penis in Hand: Penis Enlargement Exercises
Some believe that squeezing exercises are a frugal penis
enlargement alternative to pumps and traction systems. Known as milking or jelquing,
this act of manual manipulation involves the use of hand-over-hand motions to
push blood from the base of a semi-erect penis into the tip. In some sense, it's
like getting the last bit of toothpaste out of your penis.
According to one source, a standard jelquing workout lasts 20 to 30 minutes and should be performed daily after a sufficient warm-up period with a warm, damp bath towel. While the Surgeon General calls for adults to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue a statement on jelquing. The Mayo Clinic, however, says it does not work.
As far as penis enlargement goes, a hands-off approach is usually more discreet, especially in public. In all seriousness, though, the stigma of owning a penis pump or other physical devices may account for the rise in popularity of herbal supplements and pills.
Penis in a Bottle: Penis Enlargement Pills, Creams, and Patches
In the bulk folder of one of my email accounts, one in five
spam emails includes an offer for erectile dysfunction or penis enlargement
drugs. There are numerous companies that offer such miracle pills and creams. These
supplements can cost $40 to $100 a bottle and sometimes more. Some of the
ingredients of said pills and creams include ginseng, yohimbe bark, oyster meat
extract, sarsaparilla root, and ginkgo biloba. One assumes that the proper
combination of such ingredients can both enlarge your penis and duplicate the
flavor of Colonel Sander's special blend of 11 herbs and spices.
While some pills can purportedly raise libido (though perhaps only through a placebo effect), none of the pills or creams available have shown any scientific evidence of permanent enlargement. Enzyte®, manufactured by Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, has been one of the most high-profile of these penis enlargement pills thanks to the aforementioned television ad campaign. Originally claiming to increase penis size, the company changed its claims, this time stating that Enzyte® would promote longer-lasting erections. This change in advertising came after several lawsuits were filed against the company for false advertising and dubious refund policies. As of this writing, the company is not out of legal trouble by a long shot (see Penis in the Cookie Jar).
In an ABC News report from June 2, 2005, New York-based urologist Dr. Franklin Lowe offered the following assessment of Enzyte®: "It's very enticing. It's good marketing. But to my knowledge, there's no clinical evidence that supports any of those claims."
Unfortunately, the makers of herbal penis enlargement supplements have no obligation to ensure the effectiveness or safety of their products. This is thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Passed in 1994, the DSHEA allowed herbal supplement and dietary supplement makers to bypass pre-market safety evaluations that the Food and Drug Administration applies to new food products.
More worrisome, however, is that some of these pills may contain harmful substances. In Julia Angwin's Wall Street Journal story titled "Some Male 'Enlargement' Pills Contain a Variety of Impurities," it was found that various male enhancement pills contained "significant levels of E. coli, yeast, mold, lead, and pesticide residues." Citing Angwin's article in his sex-advice column, Savage Love, Dan Savage noted, "I fail to see how anyone could fall for an e-mail pitch selling a bigger dick in a bottle."
The strangest member of the herbal supplements family is the penis enlargement patch. These patches essentially contain the same pixie dust of other herbal supplements but deliver these substances through the skin much like a nicotine patch. You can wear the patch on your arm rather than on your penis, but given the ridiculous nature of the product, you might as well use penis enlargement patches as bandages if you cut yourself shaving.
Penis in the Operating Room: Penis Enlargement Surgery
While the other products on the market make little
difference, penis enlargement surgery seems more likely to achieve results. The
Mayo Clinic notes, however, that the American Urological Association, the
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the American Society of
Plastic Surgeons have all issued statements against cosmetic penis enlargement
To increase penis girth, surgeons can inject silicone, fat tissue, or other filler agents into the penis and scrotum. To increase length, surgeons may cut the suspensory ligament to cause the penis to extend further out from the body. Penile implants can be placed as well, though those are generally used to overcome erectile dysfunction.
According to a study by St. Peter's Andrology Centre and Institute of Urology, only 35 percent of patients were satisfied with the final results of their penis lengthening surgery. The study observed 42 men who underwent penis-lengthening surgeries from September 1998 to January 2005. Patients who underwent surgery to enhance girth were generally more pleased with their results than those who underwent penis-lengthening surgery.
Penis enlargement surgery is not covered by insurance, and the cost will vary depending on what type of procedure performed. The average cost of penis enlargement surgery is approximately $6,000 to $7,000, which is the equivalent Kelley Blue Book value of a 2001 Mazda 626 in good condition. Additional corrective surgeries may result in additional costs over time.
On top of the financial investment, however, are the potential side effects associated with surgery. According to The Mayo Clinic, some of these side effects include loss of sensation, infection, excessive bleeding, and even loss of penile function. The Mayo Clinic also noted that the results of fat injections may not last. Once the body absorbs fat injected into the penis, it can lead to an irregular shape--one worse than "the last chicken in the shop look."
When pills, pumps, and consistent jelquing don't work, and when surgery is not an option given cost and risk, some men turn to other alternatives to increase the size of their penis. Some of them are bizarre.
Penis on Your iPod: Penis Enlargement with Hypnosis
One of the stranger male enhancement options out there is
hypnotherapy. Yes, the claim is that you can the increase the size of your
penis through hypnosis. There is a soothing six-disc set available on one
hypnotherapy website that also comes in MP3 format. Another site provides penis
enhancing CDs and MP3s as well. That site also provides hypnotherapy to increase
sex drive, virility, and testosterone levels.
The site with the six-disc penis enhancement set features a sample of one of these hypnotherapy sessions. It sounds like the least enthusiastic dirty phone call I've ever received.
These hypnotherapy programs cost $20 to $99. Surprisingly they don't try to sell people bridges or bad stocks on either of these websites.
Penis in the Cookie Jar: Lawsuits Against Penis Enlargement Scams
The only thing stranger than penile enlargement through
hypnosis is penis enlargement through magnets. Well, technically it's a
combination of magnets, tourmaline, and germanium. Essentially an adjustable
magnetic cock ring, the comically named peloopTM looks like a mustard-yellow
hospital bracelet. The sole peloopTM testimonial comes from a man named George,
because apparently even Ray is not that gullible or desperate.
Occasionally the purveyors of such male enhancement scams are caught with their pants down and their hands in the cookie jar. While the peloopTM will live on like a bad roadside attraction, the fates of some herbal supplement companies are not as bright.
In 2002, the Arizona attorney general's office seized more than $30 million in assets from the main officers of C.P. Direct. The company sold more than $74 million in Longitude penis enlargement pills and Full and Firm breast enlargement pills. Both were scam products. Geraldine Consoli, her son Michael Consoli, and Vincent J. Passafiume were each charged with fraud, theft, conspiracy, money laundering, and for violating a previous court order that barred them from doing business through the mail and the Internet.
Another lawsuit in 2004 was levied against the male enhancement supplement VigRx for fraud, theft, and money-laundering. In January 2005, a man filed a lawsuit against Alzare LLC for false advertising of their male enhancement supplement.
Sure to elicit wide grins and bouts of whistling from defrauded customers, litigation is currently underway against Enzyte®. While previous legal action led the company to change its product claims, the current case is much more serious. On September 21, 2006, six individuals from Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, including owner and president Steven Warshak, were issued a federal indictment on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and mail, wire, and bank fraud. The federal trial began on January 8, 2008 and is still in progress as of this writing.
My Penis and I: Coming to Terms with Penis Size and Body Image
When I told a friend of mine that I was writing a 3,200-word
article on penis enlargement, he said, "That many words, huh? You think
the article may be overcompensating for something?"
One thing I realized in the research and writing of this piece was that in exploring male body image and concerns about penis size, I suddenly felt more comfortable thinking about my own body image. That's not to say that I'll be discussing my penis in front of strangers like Lawrence Barraclough--in My Penis and Everyone Else's, Barraclough hits the streets with a sandwich board sign that reads "I want to talk about penises"--but if the topic ever does come up, I know I won't feel so uptight or insecure about it anymore. There's a great sense of comfort in that.
But getting back to Barraclough, by the end of My Penis and I he comes to terms with the size of his penis and, though he admits it's small, he does achieve some level of acceptance with his body image. The first documentary was obviously cathartic, and it seems that both My Penis and I and My Penis and Everyone Else's have helped Barraclough overcome the embarrassing memories that have plagued him since the gym class locker room.
The Mayo Clinic supports the idea of discussing male body image issues and suggests that communication with your partner about penis size may help overcome body image issues. Discussing penis size with a doctor or counselor may also be ideal. This can help reassure men that they are of normal size or that size is not the most important thing to consider. The Mayo Clinic also suggests getting in shape to improve overall body appearance, and that this can be particularly helpful if one's abdomen falls over the penis.
Given the uncertain, expensive, or poor options for male enhancement, learning to accept one's penis size and body image may be the best thing to do. And, in the end, regardless of penis size, the ability to accept one's body is more important than pills and pumps. Accepting yourself shows that you've got a lot of self-confidence and, most importantly, enormous balls.
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