Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/17/2020
"Jelqing." Is it the hottest 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, done to create what micro-tears in the skin tissue and allegedly give your penis a larger appearance. Yes, you read that correctly.
You’re self-conscious of your penis size and you’re not alone. It’s completely normal to wonder if you’re “big enough” or to want more length and girth — 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.
But while 85 percent of women surveyed said they were satisfied with their partner’s penis size, just 55 percent of men were satisfied with their own.
Almost half (45 percent) said they wanted 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 likely unnecessary.
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 — and it seems a new medication or fad pops up every day.
Penis stretching is just one technique available. And its non-invasive approach makes it a popular entry-level option.
But the big question is: does it do any good?
“Average” sized penises run the gamut (generally averaging 3.6 inches in length when flaccid and 5.2 inches when erect ).
Many men with average penises erroneously believe them to be small.
Jelqing, or manually stretching the penis with exercises, is one approach offered as a solution, though there’s no evidence it works.
The evidence for penis enlargement using penis pumps (vacuums) or traction is mixed and underwhelming.
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.
A 2014 study attempted to put some numbers to it, analyzing the measurements of thousands of penises.
Among these penises from around the world: the average flaccid length was 9.16 cm, or 3.6 inches. The average stretched, flaccid length was 13.24 cm or 5.2 inches. The average erect length was 13.12 cm or 5.2 inches. And the average erect girth was 11.66 cm or 4.6 inches.
These measurements are averages, and if you remember anything from middle school math, you know that the actual measurements of penises in the test group fell both higher and lower than the average.
So, somewhat smaller than the average could also 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 their penis actually falling within the normal range.
There’s even a diagnosis, “small penis anxiety” or “small penis syndrome,” to go with this feeling. So, whether you fall within a normal range or not, it’s quite normal to want a bigger package.
Penis stretching typically refers to the use of exercises or devices to increase the length of your penis. “Jelqing” is another name for the manual stretching exercises targeted at penis length.
Students from the University of California at Santa Barbara explain the technique as follows. However, we want to remind readers that this information isn’t clinical (as you can imagine, finding real information about jelqing proved difficult), and should be used for reference only:
Warm up the penis with compresses or a warm bath to increase blood flow.
Apply a lubricant to reduce friction.
Make the OK sign with your thumb and index finger and encircle the base of your penis.
Slowly pull away from your body until you reach the head of your penis, applying light and consistent pressure.
Once you reach the end of your penis, restart the movement.
The website cautions that the exercises should not be done on an erect penis and should be immediately stopped if you become erect or experience pain. They suggest five- to 10-minute sessions, working up to greater frequency and duration.
Another reference can be found at the Weill Cornell Medical College and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which also specifically notes that, “There are no good medical studies evaluating the effectiveness of either jelqing or the penile pump to increase girth of the penis.”
The actual scientific evidence on penis stretching to show whether it works or not is extremely limited. Most of what you’ll find online related to manual stretching (without a device) is anecdotal, meaning personal accounts from men who have tried it.
The Mayo Clinic concludes that while jelqing appears safe, it can lead to “scar formation, pain, and disfigurement.” Not exactly a good end for your penis. Also, they say, “there’s no scientific proof it works.”
The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) cautions that, “in general, the practice is not considered effective and may even be harmful.”
A search of the scientific literature finds most research done on penis stretching has involved various stretching devices and tools. And even then, the evidence is limited.
Devices designed to manually or mechanically increase penis size generally work by one of two mechanisms: a vacuum or traction.
Vacuum devices. One small-scale study analyzed the penis size of men who used a vacuum device three times a week for 20 minutes each over a period of six months. The jelqing results were unimpressive.
The average penis length increased from 7.6cm to 7.9cm (or 2.99 inches to 3.11 inches), an increase of “no statistical significance,” and just 30 percent of participants were satisfied with the results of their work.
Traction devices. 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 a day).
Yes, you read that right. That’s roughly 720 hours of having your penis in traction for a gain of about one-half an inch. So, maybe if you’re not going anywhere for a long while, this could work.
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 dick bigger is lacking.
The good news is: you might 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. (So don’t blame her for your big penis quest.)
The Mayo Clinic kindly points out that a rotund belly can make your penis look smaller.
So, if you need more incentive to drop a few bounds, a bigger looking penis is certainly alluring. Aside from that, you may need to get real with yourself about your penis and why you think it needs to be bigger.
If you’re measuring yourself against the guys you see in porn, stop. Learn to appreciate what you have.
If you’re concerned about her satisfaction, don’t assume it would be “fixed” with a bigger member. Instead, focus on the things you can improve — your confidence and your technique.