Our email inboxes fill up every day with advertisements for pills, ointments, supplements, and contraptions aimed at enhancing penis size, sexual stamina, or libido. It's a testimony to men's abiding insecurities about sexual performance. The question is, do any of these "male enhancement" techniques really work?
Richard, a mechanic from upstate New York, is a muscular, athletic guy. He has a loving wife who has always enjoyed their sex life. But ever since he was a young boy, Richard couldn't get over the feeling that his penis was too small. In public bathrooms, he'd use the handicapped stall. He felt embarrassed in gym locker rooms and when standing naked before his wife. "I didn't feel manly enough," he tells WebMD.
As a child, I never would have guessed I'd one day be paid to type the phrase "jock itch."
Actually, I'm sort of surprised now as an adult to find that jock itch, and its southerly cousin athlete's foot, still exist. There's something sort of quaint about these and other minor locker room infections — they seem to belong in the moldering realm of short shorts and tube socks that marked our fathers' Saturday mornings at the Y. Surely today's athletes, with their x-treme cross trainers and x-treme...
Then, in the back of a weightlifting magazine, he saw an ad for the FastSize Extender, a device that claims to make the penis longer and fatter through traction. Richard began wearing the device almost eight hours a day, every day. He was shocked to notice a difference within a few days. After four months of wearing the device, he says his flaccid penis has stretched from 3 inches to over 5 inches; erect, he has gone from less than 6 inches to over 7 inches. The device cost $298, but Richard says the effect on his self-confidence has been priceless: "It made a world of difference to me."
The FastSize Extender, though not extensively tested, has received some validation from mainstream medical sources. But that makes it a true rarity among the nonprescription methods of male enhancement. Most are a waste of money, and some are downright dangerous, doctors say.
Instead of furtively turning to untested methods, men with persistent concerns should consider opening up about them with their doctors. That's because performance problems sometimes act as an early warning signal for serious health problems. Your doctor might be able to prescribe something that can really help, or least provide a valuable dose of perspective about what constitutes "normal" sexual performance.
Links Between Sexual and Overall Health
Sexual performance declines naturally as men age, doctors say. But a rapid or severe decrease in performance or libido can be a red flag. Most importantly, erectile dysfunction may be an early predictor of heart disease.