Updated November 14, 2014.
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.
If women can undergo breast augmentation surgery to improve the size of their breasts, it's only fair for men to increase their penis size, right? Wrong. There is no surgical equivalent in men that will make their penises larger. Bummer. But good to know before you find a surgeon willing to try, right? The history of penis enlargement probably goes back to ancient Egypt. There are basically 3 ways a guy can pursue penis enlargement.
Surgery, pills and traction. Let's talk a little anatomy and then break down all these methods.
There are two structures that make the penis. The first structure is the urethra, the channel that carries urine out of the bladder. The urethra is part of the corpus spongiosum which turns into the glans penis, or the helmet of the penis. The second part of the penis is the erectile body, the corpus cavernosum. This is one giant blood sponge that quickly fills with blood to achieve erection. The corpus cavernosum surrounds the corpus spongiosum like a hot dog bun around the hot dog of the spongiosum. The corpos cavernosum travels all the way from just behind the glans into the pelvis and splits into 2 chambers that attach to the right and left ischial tuberosity, the bones that men sit on. As boys turn to men, the penis chambers grow throughout puberty in response to a testosterone hormone called DHT. The male continues to make DHT throughout his life but the penis stops growing toward the end of puberty--bad news for guys that are unhappy with how big their penis gets.
Since this is a common problem, and in my 15 years in Urology, no one has ever asked me to make his penis smaller, the penis enlargement market is booming. In fact, in a recent medical journal, researches found that only 55% of men were satisfied with their penises. Thankfully, 85% of women surveyed were happy with their partner's penis size ( Does size matter? Men's and women's views on penis size across the lifespan. Lever, Janet; Frederick, David A.; Peplau, Letitia Anne Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 7(3), Jul 2006, 129-143.)
1. Supplements: Wouldn't it be great to take an all natural supplement and enlarge your penis until it was the size you always wanted? There are thousands of companies trying to sell you such a pill. At best, it won't help but won't hurt you. At worst, some of these supplements contain real medicine such as sildenafil which can be dangerous in men with heart disease taking nitrates. Most supplements will have substances that increase nitric oxide levels such as l-citrullene or l-arginine that may improve blood flow to the penis. So this could give a guy a little more plumpness or partial erection that could make the flaccid penis look fuller but won't actually lengthen the penis.
2. Surgery: This is where it can get really ugly. There are no FDA approved surgical treatments for penis enlargement. Surgeons have tried cutting off the ligaments that keep the penis anchored to the pubic bone. This procedure will cause the flaccid penis to drop lower but won't actually lengthen the overall penis--just improve the dangle. That gives a guy a better locker room penis but makes the penis less stable during intercourse--so who are you really trying to please? Surgeons have also tried skinning the penis back and wrapping artificial or biologic tissue around it to girth it up a bit. This can get really rough because these men will get severe scarring that constricts the penis and makes intercourse difficult as well. Some men get injections of their own fat or synthetic material to chub up the shaft but again, this won't improve the function of the penis. What about a penile implant? These are great options for men with impotence but it's not going to make the penis any bigger. Implant surgeons are limited by the stretched length of the penis and really can't go much bigger. Here's where our anatomy lessons helps again. Surgeons have tried to lengthen the corpora cavernosa to place a bigger implant but we can't make the urethra and spongiosum any longer.
3. Penile traction: Men have attached weights to their penises for at least a hundred years in hopes of stretching out a couple more inches. There has never been an FDA approved device for penile extension. There is a company that makes a medical device for Peyronie's Disease called the Extender that has medical literature describing improved penile length for men with Peyronie's Disease but this device has not been studied in men without Peyronie's.
So what's a guy to do? How about lose weight? There was a study years ago out of Northwestern University by Dr. Kevin McVary that showed that men who lose 30 pounds will gain an inch back of exposed penile length. The bottom line is, do your research, don't believe any statements that sound too good to be true, and seek out a sexual medicine specialist in your area to discuss further.