Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/16/2022
"Jelqing." Is it the hottest new social media trend? Nope. Cool new slang the young people are using? No, not even a little.
Jelqing is actually the name of a penis stretching exercise that involves creating micro-tears in the skin tissue to allegedly give your penis additional length and a larger appearance. Yes, you read that correctly.
If you’re self conscious about your penis size, you’re not alone. It’s totally common and normal to occasionally wonder if you’re “big enough,” or to want some extra length and girth -- in fact, a lot of guys do.
A 2018 survey found that while most men (66 percent) rated their penis as average, 12 percent said they had a small penis.
Interestingly, research suggests that penis size is far more of a concern for men than for most women. Although 85 percent of women surveyed stated that they were satisfied with the penis size of their partner, just 55 percent of men were satisfied with their own.
Furthermore, almost half of the men that participated in the survey (45 percent) said that they’d like a larger penis.
So what does all of this mean? A few things:
Many men believe their penis is smaller than average.
Most women are satisfied with the size of their man’s penis.
More than half of men, however, are unsatisfied with the size of their own penis.
In other words, it’s normal to want a bigger unit, though as far as women are concerned, it’s not that necessary.
Despite this difference in male and female opinion, there are numerous companies that prey on our lack of penis confidence. There are countless pills and devices designed to help you make it bigger (or at least claim to make it bigger) -- and it seems a new drug or fad pops up every day.
Penis stretching, or jelqing, is just one technique that’s available. And its non-invasive approach to increasing penis size (it requires no surgery, or even medication) has made it an increasingly popular option.
But the big question is: does it do any good? More specifically, is jelqing an effective way to get a bigger penis, or is it a potentially harmful technique that could damage your penis and have a negative effect on your sexual performance?
Below, we’ve explained what jelqing is, as well as how it claims to work as a technique for penis enlargement.
We’ve also discussed the current research on jelqing’s effectiveness, as well as the safety risks involved in using a technique like jelqing for penis enlargement.
Just about everyone wants to know if they’re “normal” -- the way they think, the way they look, and yes, the size of their junk.
Penises, like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. So, defining what “normal” looks like can be difficult.
In a study published in the journal BJU International in 2014, a group of researchers attempted to put some numbers to it by analyzing the measurements of thousands of penises, then using the collected data to determine how large a typical penis really is.
They found that the average flaccid length measured in at 9.16 cm, or 3.6 inches The average stretched flaccid penis was 13.24 cm, or 5.2 inches. The average erect penis was longer and wider, with a length of 13.12 cm (5.2 inches) and a circumference of 11.66 cm (4.6 inches).
These measurements are averages, and if you remember anything from middle school math, you know that the real measurements of penises in the test group were both higher and lower than the average.
So, somewhat smaller than the average could still be considered “normal,” as could somewhat bigger.
Still, sometimes how you feel about your penis doesn’t reflect reality. Urologists often see male patients who are concerned about their “small” penis, despite the fact that penis actually falls in the normal range when it comes to length and girth.
There’s even a diagnosis of “small penis anxiety” or “small penis syndrome,” to accompany this feeling. Experts aren’t aware of precisely why it occurs in many men, although it may be linked to existing anxiety disorders or popular, porn-induced misconceptions about penis size.
So, whether you fall within the normal range or not, it’s quite normal and far from uncommon to want a bigger package. The question is: is jelqing a safe, reliable way to get one?
Penis stretching is exactly what it sounds like -- the use of exercises or devices to stretch your penis and increase its length. Jelqing is another name for manual stretching exercises that are used to supposedly provide additional length by extending the tissue inside your penis.
Jelqing isn’t an established medical treatment, meaning it’s not a technique your doctor will tell you to do. However, it’s grown in popularity over the last few decades, particularly as an online recommendation for supposedly extending your penis.
So, how does one jelq? Most jelqing techniques involve stretching your penis with your fingers while it’s in a semi-erect state, generally by repeatedly massaging along your penis using your thumb and index finger in an “OK” hand position.
The process can be broken down into the following steps (provided for reference only):
Warm up your penis using a compress or warm bath. This may help to improve blood flow and get your penis into a semi-erect state.
Apply lubricant to your penis to reduce friction. Using lubricant may reduce your risk of developing soreness or skin inflammation from the jelqing motion.
Make the “OK” sign with your thumb and index finger, then hold the base of your penis in this position (using your thumb and index finger to encircle your penis).
Keeping your thumb and index finger wrapped around your penis, slowly pull away from your body until you reach the head of your penis, applying light and consistent pressure throughout the entire movement.
Once you reach the end of your penis, move your thumb and finger back to the base of your penis and repeat the movement.
Most resources on jelqing caution that it shouldn’t be done when your penis is erect, and that it should be stopped if you begin to experience discomfort.
Most medical treatments fit into one of two categories. The first is made up of evidence-based treatments that are backed up by real, thorough scientific research, from case reports to larger studies and clinical trials.
The second category consists of unproven “treatments” that are mostly shared in online groups, blog posts and, perhaps, between friends after a drink or two.
Jelqing very much fits into the second category. Currently, there’s no scientific evidence that it’s effective at increasing penis length or girth, or that it produces any real improvements in sexual function or performance.
In fact, the scientific research on jelqing that does exist largely suggests that in addition to being ineffective, it may also be harmful.
In an article published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology, researchers looked at the effects of a variety of treatments for erectile dysfunction and other male sexual issues.
They noted that research on jelqing is extremely limited, but reports suggest that it may lead to bruising, pain and fibrosis -- the formation of fibrotic scarring throughout your penis in response to injury.
Put simply, there’s no good evidence that jelqing works, and the limited amount of information about its effectiveness generally suggests that it’s more likely to cause problems than provide any real benefits.
With this said, there is a small amount of scientific evidence that some penis stretching devices may offer benefits for penis size.
Devices designed to manually or mechanically increase penis size generally work by one of two mechanisms: a vacuum or traction.
In one small-scale study, researchers studied the penis size of men who used a vacuum device three times a week for 20 minutes each over a period of six months. A total of 37 men took part in the study, with a group average penis length of 7.6 cm (approximately three inches).
After six months of treatment, the average penis size for men in the group had increased to 7.9 cm (3.11 inches). Only 30 percent of the men that took part in the study reported that they felt satisfied with the results of the treatment.
The evidence for penile-lengthening traction devices is only somewhat better. One study found the use of a penis stretcher called the Andro-Penis® could add 0.7 inches to the length of a soft penis after six months of all-day use (or at least four to six hours per day).
Yes, you read that right -- four to six hours each day. That’s approximately 720 hours of having your penis in traction for a gain of about half an inch in length. So, maybe if you have no plans to go anywhere or do anything for a long while, this method of penis enlargement could work.
There’s very little research on jelqing, meaning we don’t yet have the long list of potential side effects that generally accompanies a new medical treatment. However, the research that does exist doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture about jelqing’s safety.
As we mentioned above, existing research suggests that jelqing may cause bruising, pain and the development of fibrosis, or scar tissue.
Studies of similar techniques for penis enlargement have also involved complications, including hematoma and numbness around the glans penis (the tip of the penis, and the area that’s most sensitive during sex).
According to Weill Cornell Medicine, some penis stretching techniques can also cause damage to the nerves inside your penis, which may affect your ability to have pleasurable sex.
Overall, it’s important to understand that jelqing and other do-it-yourself techniques for enlarging your penis can have significant risks, including some that may affect your ability to have sex with your partner.
When it comes to increasing penis size, there unfortunately aren’t very many reliable options out there.
Currently, the most effective methods for increasing penis size are surgical procedures. One is a process that involves cutting the penile suspensory ligament, which holds your penis against the pubic bone and supports it when it’s erect.
This type of procedure can produce a small increase in the length of your penis, but it comes at a cost. Because the penile suspensory ligament is responsible for holding your penis up during an erection, cutting it may cause your penis to “hang” even when it’s hard.
The second procedure for increasing penis size is fat transfer, which can provide the penis with extra girth. Since the penis isn’t very fatty, injecting fat into this area can often result in a lumpy, uneven appearance that is far from natural.
If undergoing surgery for a mild increase in penis length or girth isn’t for you, there are several options that you may want to consider.
The first is to make the most of the size that you have now and instead focus on keeping your penis as erect as possible during sex. This can often have far more of a positive effect on your level of sexual satisfaction (as well as your partner’s satisfaction) than another inch of length.
ED medications like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) and avanafil (Stendra®) can all help you to maintain firmer, stronger erections, especially if you’re prone to issues such as erectile dysfunction.
The second option is to accept your penis size and focus on improving your sexual confidence in other ways.
As we discussed above, although it’s often something us guys worry about, penis size just isn’t that much of a deal for most women. Get the other stuff down -- namely confidence and sexual stamina -- and the size of your penis isn’t like to be a problem.
If you need help overcoming worries about your penis size or other parts of your body, talking to a therapist may help.
Using penis exercises or devices for stretching may be fun, for a little while. They may even get you off. But the evidence for them actually working to make your penis longer, wider or produce any real improvements in size is seriously lacking.
The good news is that you may not need it anyway. As we pointed out, many men with perfectly average penises believe them to be small. And women are far more likely to rate their partner’s penises as satisfactory than men themselves.
If you’re measuring yourself against the guys you see in porn, whether in terms of penis size or anything else related to sex, stop. Learn to appreciate what you have, and remember that porn is more often the product of studio lighting, camera lenses and editing than reality.
If you’re concerned about her satisfaction, don’t assume it would be fixed with a slightly bigger member. Instead, focus on the aspects of sex you can improve -- your confidence, your sexual technique and your ability to get and maintain an erection.
Need help with any of these? Browse our complete range of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation treatments online, or learn more about keeping yourself and your partner satisfied in bed with our guide to having better sex.