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If you’re seeking ways to increase your penis size or libido, you may be interested in taking male enhancement pills. But while these products often advertise penis enlargement and enhanced performance, there’s limited research supporting these claims.
A 2017 study found that the average erect penis is about 5.5 inches, or 14.15 centimeters. Typically, a penis is only considered abnormally small if it measures less than 3 inches when erect. This is known as a micropenis.
If you’re interested in male enhancement pills because you’re having difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection that you consider satisfactory, you should talk with your primary care doctor or a urologist to determine if erectile dysfunction (ED) could be the reason.
While ED is most common among older men, a 2013 study found that 26 percent of men seeking treatment for newly diagnosed ED were under 40 years old.
The male enhancement pills that are available on the market today are often labeled as dietary supplements. They claim to increase blood flow to the penis in order to increase the duration of an erection. They also claim to boost overall arousal, stamina, and performance.
Many male enhancement pills use a combination of natural ingredients, which can include:
Individually, popular belief claims the efficacy of these ingredients. For example, a 2016 study found that black ginger extract increased physical fitness performance and muscular endurance, though it was performed on mice. So, there isn’t a ton of research that supports how effective they really are.
But there’s no data to directly support the effectiveness of male enhancement pills.
“I always caution patients about these medications, as many of them haven’t been studied in a controlled manner,” says E. Charles Osterberg, MD, FACS, a board-certified urologist.
Because most male enhancement pills are not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there’s no scientific evidence to back up their claims.
While there have been studies on similar ingredients and their effectiveness on ED, the research doesn’t support the effectiveness that male enhancement pills claim to have.
A slightly older 2011 study on the effectiveness of ashwagandha in treating psychogenic ED found that the medicinal herb was not effective.
According to Osterberg, psychogenic ED is when the erectile tissue and properties work just fine, “but there may be some other reason why that individual’s having trouble with erections, whether it be performance anxiety, stress, or situation related.”
Even in the case of psychogenic ED, it’s best to consult a doctor who can advise the best next steps.
The FDA released a warning about nearly 50 male enhancement and weight loss products (which are not FDA approved) available to purchase through online marketplaces that contain hidden ingredients. Of those products, 80 percent contained undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The FDA also maintains an updated list of tainted sexual enhancement products on their website.
The risks of taking male enhancement pills are high. Many male enhancement pills aren’t transparent about their ingredients. Taking pills with unknown ingredients could result in serious side effects, especially if they interact with other medications or supplements you’re taking.
Before trying any new supplements or herbal medicines, you should talk with a doctor to determine what ingredients are in them and how they could potentially affect you — especially if you’re taking other medications.
If you’re experiencing difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection, talk with a doctor about getting a prescription for an ED medication, like Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra.
These medications are proven to be effective in the treatment of ED. In an older but widely cited 2002 study on the efficacy of sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), 95 percent of patients reported it improved their ability to engage in sexual activity.
Hims offers several ED medications, including pills for one-time use and those for daily use. Hims carries brand names, like Viagra and Cialis, and the generic versions — sildenafil and tadalafil.
After completing an evaluation and connecting with one of their medical professionals, your treatment will be delivered directly to you.
Lemonaid offers Viagra, Cialis, and Cialis Daily, as well as generic sildenafil and tadalafil to treat ED. After choosing which medication you’re interested in getting prescribed, you’ll need to answer a health questionnaire and fill out your blood pressure reading.
Lemonaid’s medical team will review your info, and you may be required to meet over video, depending on your state.
Roman offers both brand name and generic versions of Viagra, Cialis, and Cialis Daily.
After a free online evaluation, users will receive a follow-up message in a secure portal from a medical professional to prescribe treatment. Ongoing follow-ups and treatment adjustments are free.
If you’re looking for a noninvasive option, consider a wearable device like Eddie by Giddy.
Eddie is an FDA-registered Class II medical device. The tension band is designed to trap blood flow in the penis to maintain a longer erection. It should be removed after 30 minutes of wear.
The band comes in four sizes, and the open-bottom design is designed to protect the urethra and avoid injuries.
Vacuum pumps, also known as penis pumps, are tubes that fit over the penis and remove air, which increases blood flow to achieve an erection. This device can temporarily make your penis appear larger, as it causes swelling.
But if it’s not used correctly or used too frequently, the vacuum pump runs the risk of damaging the elastic tissue. This can affect erections long term.
An extender, or penile traction device, is noninvasive and designed to stretch the penis. A 2011 study reported participants saw an increase of 1.3 centimeters after 3 months of using a penile extender.
But not enough research has been done around the safety of these devices. Long-term use could potentially cause bruising or nerve damage from too much stretching.
Male enhancement lotions and creams often contain similar ingredients as male enhancement pills, like herbs and vitamins.
There’s no evidence to prove these lotions are effective. Depending on the ingredients, they may even be harmful, and they could potentially result in serious side effects or skin reactions.
Penile surgery is only recommended for functional reasons, like correcting a defect or treating an injury. Surgery is not recommended for lengthening or cosmetic purposes.
In fact, there’s no surgical way to truly lengthen the penis. There’s a procedure that involves cutting the suspensory ligament of the penis. This can lead to an apparent increase in length, but without this ligament, the penis is no longer tethered to the pubic bone and has no anchor, so to speak.
Penile prosthesis surgery is sometimes done for severe cases of ED, but this doesn’t lengthen the penis and will leave the head of the penis flaccid. In many cases, a penile prosthesis can actually result in some penile shortening, although newer models have tried to address this issue.
Penile surgery for correction of severe curvature can actually lead to penile shortening.
Since there’s a large risk involved when taking male enhancement pills, we do not recommend adding any new supplements into your diet without consulting a doctor or primary care practitioner first. There are safer alternatives to male enhancement pills, like doctor-prescribed ED medications and wearable devices.
There’s no evidence to prove that male enhancement pills work to increase size or improve performance. Many pills can actually be harmful since many brands aren’t fully transparent about their ingredients.
If you’re experiencing issues with achieving or maintaining an erection, you may be experiencing ED and should speak with a medical professional to determine treatment options. There are several ED medications available, but they all require a prescription.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your primary care physician or a urologist before trying new medications or if you feel like you may be experiencing ED. ED can be an indication of an underlying medical condition.
Sam Lauron is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Austin, TX. When she’s not writing about wellness, creativity, or personal development, she spends her time reading, listening to true crime podcasts, and soaking up the sunny Austin weather with her partner and their dog. Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter, or by visiting her website.
Last medically reviewed on November 12, 2021



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