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Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 11/17/22

We need to talk about size. Penis size, to be precise. It’s something that a number of men are concerned about, often with serious consequences for their body image, mental well-being and sexual performance. 

Some men may even get so anxious about penis size that it can cause or worsen issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED). However, if you look at the research, most men have no reason to worry when it comes to how they measure up below the belt.

Nevertheless, it’s often thought that bigger is better. If you have concerns about your penis size, this very thought may lead you down the path of wanting to explore penis enlargement products — specifically, penis growth pills.

Like with many other supplements promoted as boosting sexual function, most pills that promise a larger penis aren’t supported by much in the way of scientific evidence.

However, there are a few things that you can do that may improve your function in bed and give you more confidence in your abilities.

We’ve discussed these below and dug into the latest research to explain what penis growth pills are, how they claim to work and whether or not they’re worth using.

What Are Penis Growth Pills and Do They Work?

Penis growth pills, or penis enlargement pills, are exactly what they sound like — pills that claim to increase the size of your penis, either while it’s flaccid, while it’s erect, or both. 

Some of these pills make specific claims about how much your penis could grow with use, while others take a more general approach and simply claim to promote a larger penis. 

The penis enlargement pills available in the United States aren’t medications. Instead, they tend to be supplements that contain various herbal extracts, minerals, vitamins and other ingredients that aren’t approved or regulated by the FDA. 

This means that they aren’t really regulated in any significant sense, nor are they required to be supported by clinical trials and other scientific evidence. 

How Do Penis Growth Pills Claim to Work?

Penis growth pills are marketed with a range of different theories and claims about their effects and potential benefits. Some claim to boost blood flow to your penile tissue, resulting in bigger erections, while others claim to increase testosterone levels or semen volume.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at penis enhancement pills is that because they’re sold as supplements rather than medications, they don’t need to prove that they’re effective. 

For example, medications for treating sexual performance issues, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), are subject to several large-scale clinical trials before they’re available to the public.

These trials don’t just test that the medication is safe for users, but also that it’s effective for the specific condition it’s being used to treat. 

With penis growth pills that are available for sale online, in sex stores and in gas stations, these requirements don’t exist, meaning manufacturers aren’t required to provide any real information about how their products work (or whether they’re effective).

This lack of testing or regulation means that certain pills marketed as promoting a larger penis may contain ingredients that aren’t just ineffective, but are also unsafe. 

Over the years, the FDA has investigated numerous sexual enhancement pills, including some marketed as penis enlargement supplements, and found that they contained hidden ingredients that may not be safe.

For example, in 2021, the FDA published a news release warning consumers about male sexual enhancement products sold online through Amazon, eBay and other popular marketplaces.

In this warning, the FDA noted that it had identified nearly 50 male enhancement products, such as supplements for increasing penis size, improving sexual performance treating issues such as erectile dysfunction, that contained hidden ingredients that may pose a health risk.

The FDA maintains an online database of notifications about these products, many of which use hidden ingredients such as prescription PDE5 inhibitors to produce improved erections.

Risks and Side Effects of Penis Enlargement Pills

These ingredients are concerning because they’re often included in excessive doses, produced in unsafe facilities or used secretly, meaning they could cause interactions with medications that are widely used by the public.

Common side effects of sildenafil, an ingredient that’s often hidden in penis enlargement tablets, capsules and other supplements, include:

  • Headaches

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)

  • Abnormal vision

  • Flushing

  • Back pain

  • Nasal congestion

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Dizziness

  • Rash

In addition to these side effects, sildenafil and similar medications that are often hidden in penis enlargement pills can potentially cause serious drug interactions when used with blood pressure medications such as nitrates.

When sildenafil is used legally with a prescription, these side effects are still a risk, but you have the opportunity to discuss them with your healthcare provider and choose the right dose for your needs.

When it comes to unlicensed, unregulated penis enlargement pills, there’s no way to know what dosage of these hidden ingredients you’re getting.

Because of this, we recommend avoiding any unapproved, unregulated supplements that claim to enhance your penis size or promote better sexual performance.

Instead, if you’re concerned about your penis size, it’s better to talk to your healthcare provider about your options, including some of the other treatment options we’ve listed further down the page. 

A Word on Penis Size

Before we get into more detail about the science behind other options for increasing your penis size, let’s get one thing out of the way.

If you’re worried about your penis size, taking a brief look at the research may calm your nerves and make you feel better, and most of the science on penis size and preference suggests that a big penis isn’t as much of an advantage as many people think.

Overall, women report preferring a penis that’s pretty close to the average in terms of length and girth. 

In a study published in the British Journal of Urology International (BJUI), researchers found that the average flaccid penis measured in at a smidge over 3.6 inches. The average erect penis, on the other hand, measured just over five inches in length. 

In other words, the average penis size is far from what you might expect if you form an estimate based on porn, magazine articles and popular media in general.

Wondering what women think about penis size? In one small study, researchers asked 75 adult women to choose their preferred penis size from a selection of 3D models.

They found that women selected a penis of 6.4 inches in length and 5.0 inches in circumference for one-time sexual activity, and a slightly smaller (but still slightly larger-than-average) penis for their partner in a long-term relationship.

In other words, women generally report that they prefer a slightly larger-than-average penis, but not a penis that’s far above the average size for adult men. 

Even with this information in mind, it’s far from uncommon to experience occasional feelings of anxiety or inadequacy about your penis size. In fact, there’s even a diagnosis centered around this anxiety called small penis syndrome. 

For some men, these feelings of anxiety or worry about penis size could lead down the road of wanting to explore penis growth pills. 

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Other Options for Penis Enlargement

In addition to the various penis enlargement tablets, capsules and solutions sold online and in sex stores, there are several other treatments that claim to offer penile enlargement.

These include devices that physically stretch your penis, vacuum devices that stimulate blood flow, and surgical procedures that involve adding length to your penis by cutting ligaments. 

There are also medications for erectile dysfunction that may add a small amount of additional size to your penis when it’s erect. 

We’ve talked about these options below and explained which are worth considering, as well as which are best avoided.

Traction Devices for Penile Enlargement

Penile traction therapy devices, or traction devices, are physical devices that are worn on your penis. They work by straightening your penis (an effect that may help with Peyronie’s disease) and stretching the tissue to increase its length.

When it comes to scientific evidence, some research shows that traction devices may work for increasing penis length, albeit at a pretty significant cost.  

For example, a small study involving 15 men looked at a specific penile traction device named the Andro-Penis®.

This study found that the device could add 0.9 inches to flaccid penis length after six months of daily use. The device was worn by the men for at least four hours per day, adding up to at least 720 hours of wear over the course of six months.

That’s a long time to spend with your penis in an uncomfortable-looking device, all for a modest increase in length. The study did not find any increase in penile girth, and the participants were not followed for the long term to check if their results were long-lasting.

A different penile traction device, called RestorX®, was tested in a six-month clinical trial, with a total of 110 men. The men that took part in this study all had Peyronie disease — a condition in which the penis curves due to the development of plaques inside the penile tissue.

After six months, the men that used the RestorX® device showed an average increase in penis length of 0.79 to 0.87 inches. They also had improvements in penile curvature and reported higher scores on a survey of erectile function and Peyronie’s disease symptoms.

While this study is certainly promising, it’s important to keep in mind that the results may differ in men without Peyronie’s disease.

Surgery for a Bigger Penis

Another option for men seeking a larger penis — albeit one that’s more invasive and higher-risk — is penis enlargement surgery. 

This type of surgical procedure involves suspending the suspensory ligament that attaches the penis to your pubic bone. By doing this, the penis hangs lower. Skin from your abdomen is then placed onto the shaft of the penis to make up for the new length.

We know what you’re thinking — ouch.

Research suggests that most men who seek this type of surgery have normal penis lengths, but tend to perceive their penis size as below average. Many of these men decide against getting this surgery after understanding the potential risks and complications. 

Vacuum Erection Devices for Penis Size

Vacuum erection devices, or penis pumps, are devices that are used to pull blood into the penis and treat erectile dysfunction. They’re often used by men who don’t respond to ED medications, such as sildenafil or tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis®).

Research on vacuum devices shows that they may produce a small increase in penis size over the course of a few months. However, the increase is small (just over one-tenth of an inch) and maintaining it requires a commitment of 20 minutes almost every other day. 

Our guide to vacuum erection devices goes into more detail about how these products work, as well as their potential benefits for erectile health and sexual function. 

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What Else Can Help With Penis Enlargement?

Other ways to increase the perceived size of your penis and improve your sexual performance include:

  • Losing excess weight. If you’re overweight or obese, extra fat around your midsection could make your penis look smaller than it actually is. Research has found that a higher body mass index, or BMI, is associated with a reduced penis length.
    Try to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a BMI in the normal range for better well-being and optimal penis length. 

  • Talk to your partner. If you’re worried about how your partner views your penis, talk to them about it! It may feel uncomfortable to get this conversation started, but you’ll likely feel better getting it out in the open.
    You may find that your partner is totally satisfied with your penis size and doesn’t need, or even want, you to make any effort to make your penis larger. 

  • Talk to a healthcare professional. If you still have concerns about your penis, let your healthcare provider know. They may be able to advise you about your options and help you make the most effective decision for your sexual health and performance.

  • Consider talking to a therapist. If worries about your penis size are beginning to affect your self-confidence and mental well-being, consider talking to a sex therapist or mental health provider about how you’re feeling. 

We offer online counseling as part of our range of mental health services, allowing you to connect with a licensed therapist from your home. 

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Alternatives to Penis Enlargement Pills

Currently, there’s no strong, high-quality evidence to suggest that the herbal ingredients in many over-the-counter penis enlargement pills have any meaningful impact on your penis size, sexual stamina or sexual performance in general. 

More worryingly, many penis enlargement pills have been revealed to contain hidden, potentially harmful ingredients, including poorly dosed prescription drugs.

Other options, such as traction devices and penis enhancement surgery, both come with serious risks that make them far from ideal when it comes to facilitating penile growth.

If you’re worried about your sexual performance or want to maintain harder erections, you’ll get better results from erectile dysfunction medications than from over-the-counter penis size pills.

We offer several evidence-based ED medications online, including sildenafil and tadalafil, after a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

You can also learn more about performing in bed and getting over anxiety about your penis size with our list of proven tips for better sex

13 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. FDA Warns Consumers to Avoid Certain Male Enhancement and Weight Loss Products Sold Through Amazon, eBay and Other Retailers Due to Hidden, Potentially Dangerous Drug Ingredients. (2021, December 8). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-consumers-avoid-certain-male-enhancement-and-weight-loss-products-sold-through-amazon-ebay
  2. Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products. (2022, July 28). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/medication-health-fraud/tainted-sexual-enhancement-products
  3. VIAGRA- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated. (2017, August). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/spl/data/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146.xml
  4. Veale, D., Bramley, S., Muir, G. & Hodsoll, J. (2015, June). Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men. BJU International. 115 (6), 978-986. Retrieved from https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bju.13010
  5. Prause, N., Park, J., Leung, S. & Miller, G. (2015). Women's Preferences for Penis Size: A New Research Method Using Selection among 3D Models. PLoS One. 10 (9), e0133079. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133079
  6. Wylie, K.R. & Eardley, I. (2007). Penile size and the ‘small penis syndrome’. BJU International. 99 (6), 1449-1455. Retrieved from https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.06806.x
  7. Gontero, P., et al. (2009, March). A pilot phase-II prospective study to test the ‘efficacy’ and tolerability of a penile-extender device in the treatment of ‘short penis’. BJU International. 103 (6), 793-797. Retrieved from https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.08083.x
  8. Joseph, J., et al. (2020, December). Outcomes of RestoreX Penile Traction Therapy in Men With Peyronie's Disease: Results From Open Label and Follow-up Phases. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 17 (12), 2462-2471. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33223425/
  9. Campbell, J. & Gillis, J. (2017, February). A review of penile elongation surgery. Translational Andrology and Urology. 6 (1), 69-78. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313298/
  10. Dillon, B.E., Chama, N.B. & Honig, S.C. (2008). Penile size and penile enlargement surgery: a review. International Journal of Impotence Research. 20, 519-529. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/ijir200814
  11. Aghamir, M.K., Hosseini, R. & Alizadeh, F. (2006, April). A vacuum device for penile elongation: fact or fiction? BJU International. 97 (4), 777-778. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16536772/
  12. Di Mauro, M., et al. (2021, July). Penile length and circumference dimensions: A large study in young Italian men. Andrologia. 3 (6), e14053. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8243978/
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.