It’s been said that men are obsessed with size. Unlike most stereotypes, this actually appears to be true: in fact, according to a 2015 survey, penis enlargement surgery is still one of the most desired cosmetic procedures among American men, second only to fat reduction.
Unfortunately, however, the scalpel doesn’t always deliver. Penis surgery, a.k.a. penoplasty, comes with some serious risks, including (but not limited to) infection, blood clotting, weaker erections, and penile “leaking.” That frightening little disclaimer has led some men down a different path towards penile perfection. It’s non-invasive, and it’s free. It’s known as “jelqing.”
What Is Jelqing?
According to jelqing enthusiasts, jelqing can be traced back to ancient Arabic civilization, though cynics say it was introduced more recently by online intermediaries looking to turn a buck. The practice revolves around a series of stretching exercises designed to add length and girth.
Most guides suggest waiting until you’re almost erect. Once there, it’s time to lube up and grab the base of the penis, using just the thumb and index finger. Apply pressure, and slide your hand down the shaft, as if “milking the organ.” Release, and repeat. (Most jelqing guides recommend tapping out after around 20 minutes of exercise.)
There appear to be two leading principles behind the purported “science” of jelqing. Some claim the exercises can help increase the amount of blood the penis can accommodate during an erection, causing an increase in size. Others believe that the force administered by jelqing creates microtears in the penile tissue. New cells then grow to repair the tears, leading to an increase in size. The idea is that it’s essentially bodybuilding for your penis.
There is one legitimate medical philosophy that appears to support the concept of organic penile enhancement. It’s called “tissue remodelling,” and it revolves around the reorganisation of existing tissue. Dr. Paul Turek, a leader in men’s reproductive and sexual healthcare and research, suggests we look to dental braces to demonstrate the power of remodelling. “The physics of time and pressure can lead to change in almost anything on this good earth,” he tells Men’s Health, with emphasis on that “time” part: it would take months of pressure applied for hours per day for this principle to actually work.
OK, But Does Jelqing Actually Work?
Sorry, but most members of the medical community say no. “The fundamental flaw with jelqing is a poor understanding of penile anatomy by its proponents,” says Dr. Jesse N. Mills, a urologist specialising in male reproductive medicine and surgery. “When a guy jelqs, he is squeezing blood into the erectile chambers and fluffing his penis. If there’s any growth going on, it’s just taking a soft penis into a semi-erection.”
Furthermore, jelqing might actually do more harm than good.
“Jelqing may lead to too much force applied for too little time to produce real change. Like pushing on your teeth really hard for several minutes a day to move them around, instead of just getting braces,” says Turek.
Perhaps more concerning is that applying too much pressure on the penis can cause vascular damage, scarring and erectile dysfunction. Some urologists have suggested that aggressive jelqing might even lead to a curvature of the penis.
So What Can Actually Lead to a Larger Penis?
First of all, your penis is probably fine just the way it is. In fact, according to one British survey, most women care a lot less about penis size than you probably think. That hasn’t stopped men from obsessing about their penises, though: according to one survey, more than 45 percent of men wish they were packing more below the belt, and this issue has become so pervasive that psychotherapists have started diagnosing patients with small penis anxiety or penile dysmorphic disorder.
That said, if you’re really set on looking bigger, there are safer methods of modification than jelqing out there. Losing weight is one of them: the less fat you have around the pubic area, the larger your penis will appear. Manscaping can also help make the shaft more visible.
If that doesn’t help resolve insecurities surrounding size, remember: in the context of heterosexual sex, intercourse isn’t typically what leads to orgasm. Men are much more likely to help their partners reach climax by performing other sexual acts, like oral sex, than by plumping up their penis. So if you want to be better in bed, here’s a tip: try improving your swing before looking for a bigger bat.
*This article was originally published on menshealth.com