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Penis Enlargement: Does It Work?

Every guy knows pumps, pills, exercises, and surgery won’t build bigger penises -- Or do they?
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WebMD Feature

Guys, be honest: Do you wish you were bigger? Almost certainly, the answer is yes.

"I think there isn't a guy in the world who hasn't wished his penis were an inch or two longer," says Michael O'Leary, MD, professor of urologic surgery at Harvard Medical School and a urologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

However, after more than a century of generally dubious and sometimes lunatic penis enlargement attempts, there's still not much you can do. Sure, there are lots and lots of supposed options out there -- penis pills, creams, brutal stretching exercises, horrific-looking devices, and penis surgery. Almost none of it works. The few approaches that can work often have modest benefits and serious side effects. How serious? In some cases, erectile dysfunction-serious.

"Trust me, if I knew of a way to safely and effectively increase penis size, I'd be a billionaire," O'Leary tells WebMD. "But I don't. Nobody does."

Still, common sense doesn't stop size-obsessed guys from trying very sketchy treatments on a vital part of their anatomy -- and risking a lot in the process.

How Small Is a Small Penis?

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.

What Works: Weight Loss

There is one safe and effective method for getting a larger-looking penis: weight loss.

"A lot of men who think that they have a small penis are overweight," says Jennifer Berman, MD, a urologist in Beverly Hills and co-author of Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied Woman.

Losing weight will reveal more of that hidden shaft that's buried beneath belly fat. It doesn't actually increase your size, but it will look that way.

For guys who would rather have a surgical procedure than eat less, liposuction of the fat pad around the penis can work. Still, the effects aren't permanent -- if you don't change your eating habits, your penis will once again sink into your belly, like a pier at high tide.

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