“Increase your size” – “Gain inches in weeks” – “Why settle for a small or average penis?” These are just some of the claims made by the many new products advertised to enlarge men’s penises. Anyone who has email has probably received hundreds of ads for these products, promising “proven” and “guaranteed” results to increase size, stamina, and virility. Who hasn’t seen all those ads with “Bob” and his smiling wife?

Unfortunately, we live in a society that is, in many ways, genitally obsessed. Men often measure themselves by the size of their penis and become insecure if they don’t measure up to a (mis)perceived expectation. Although most men may feel that their penis is smaller than average, the truth is that only about 1 in 250 men actually have a significantly sub-average penis. Because this insecurity is so easily exploited, men are often too quick to purchase any number of these products in the desperate hope of having a bigger penis. Here is an overview of each method.

Creams: In addition to pills, there are several companies who are also hawking various “natural” and herbal “development” creams specifically for the penis. The more common claims are that rubbing these compounds into the penis will stimulate firmer, stronger and longer erections by creating vein expansion and tissue enlargement. In much the same way that breast-enlargement creams were being sold in the 1950s and ’60s (as well as today), these products are completely ineffective and are pure hype. Since these creams are rubbed in with one’s hands, I’m still waiting to see both men and women with really large hands!

Pumps: All penis enlargement pumps operate on essentially the same principle. If you increase blood flow to the shaft and tip of the penis and maintain continuous flow to the area for a period of time, the penis will remain erect. It is a method frequently used for men with erection problems and the ones referred to as “medical vacuum devices” are actually approved by the FDA. This method is a temporary “fix” for men with erection problems to be able to have intercourse and will not increase penis size in non-functional men.

Jelqing: This method (pronounced “jelking) is often referred to as “natural penis enhancement” and is believed to have originated in ancient Arabic cultures. Jelqing is a type of penile massage that is often used in addition to stretching and Kegel-like exercises. There are even jelqing devices that are sold (imagine a variation on a pasta maker!). While there is no shortage of claims and testimonials, the fact is that there is no real evidence to support the idea of stretching the penis to make it bigger.

Surgery: Penis enlargement surgery (also called penile augmentation or phalloplasty) generally consists of one procedure to increase the length and a separate procedure to increase the width of the penis. More often than not, it is recommended that men have both in order to retain some symmetry to the penis. The procedure used to increase width is usually a method called “fat transfer,” where fatty tissue is taken from the abdomen and injected into the shaft of the penis. Length is obtained by cutting the suspensory ligaments, which anchor the shaft to the abdomen, moving the penis up and forward to increase length. Needless to say there are many inherent complications and high costs associated with these procedures. They do, however, offer the only permanent penis enhancement available.

It is also important for men to remember one very basic sexual fact: We are far more than just a penis. Being a better lover has little to do with the size of one’s penis.