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Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 10/10/2021

Updated 01/10/2024

We need to talk about size. It’s normal to occasionally think about how your penis compares to others. In fact, we’d wager that just about every guy has wondered how their penis size stacks up to the average at least once in their life.

Enter: penis enlargement pills. Often marketed as the solution to your every sex-related problem, many penis growth pills promise not just a larger member, but also better sexual confidence and performance. 

There’s just one catch. Like with many other supplements promoted as boosting sexual function, herbal supplements and other pills that claim to give you a larger penis aren’t supported by much in the way of scientific evidence.

Below, we’ve explained what penis enlargement pills are, as well as why penis pills probably aren’t worth the money.

We’ve also shared what you can do to improve your penis size and sexual self-confidence, from healthy habits to options such as vacuum erection devices. 

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Penis growth pills, or penis enlargement pills, are exactly what they sound like — pills that claim to make your penis bigger, either while it’s flaccid, while it’s erect, or both. 

Some of these pills make specific claims about how much your penis could grow with use, while others take a more general approach and simply claim to promote natural penis growth. 

Before we go into more detail, let’s get this out of the way: penis growth pills don’t work. They’re not supported by any scientific evidence, and while they might lighten your wallet, there isn’t any plausible way that they can give you a bigger penis. 

The penis enlargement pills available in the United States aren’t medications. Instead, they tend to be supplements that contain various herbal extracts, minerals, vitamins and other ingredients that aren’t approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way that medications are.

Penis growth pills are marketed using a range of different theories and claims about their effects and potential benefits. Common claims include that these pills can:

  • Boost blood flow to your erectile tissue

  • Increase your testosterone levels

  • Improve your sexual stamina

  • Physically increase penile size

  • Boost your semen volume

  • Stimulate your sex drive

  • Shorten your refractory period after sex

  • Make you more attractive to other people

  • Improve your sex life and make sexual activity more fulfilling

When it comes to how these supposed effects are achieved, most penis enlargement supplements point to exotic-sounding ingredients like horny goat weed, ginkgo biloba, I-arginine and maca root.

Penis Enlargement Pills and FDA Warnings

One thing to keep in mind when looking at penis enhancement pills is that because they’re sold as dietary supplements rather than as medications, they don’t need to prove that they’re safe or effective. 

For example, medications for treating sexual performance issues, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), are subject to several phases of large-scale clinical trials before they’re available to the public.

These trials don’t just test that the medication is safe for users, but also that it’s effective for the specific condition it’s being approved to treat. 

With penis growth pills available for sale online, in sex stores and in gas stations, these requirements don’t exist, meaning manufacturers aren’t required to provide any real information about how their products work (or whether they’re effective).

This relative lack of testing or regulation means that certain pills marketed as promoting a larger penis may contain ingredients that aren’t just ineffective, but are also unsafe. 

Over the years, the FDA has investigated numerous sexual enhancement pills, including some marketed as penis enlargement supplements, and found that they contained hidden ingredients that may be unsafe.

For example, in 2021, the FDA published a news release warning consumers about male sexual enhancement products sold online through Amazon, eBay and other popular marketplaces.

In this warning, the FDA noted that it had identified nearly 50 male enhancement products, such as supplements for increasing penis size, enhancing sexual performance and improving erectile function, that contained hidden ingredients that may pose a health risk.

These ingredients are concerning because they can be included in excessive doses, produced in unsafe facilities or used secretly, meaning they could cause interactions with medications that are widely used by the public.

The FDA maintains an online database of notifications about these products, some of which use hidden ingredients such as prescription PDE5 inhibitors to produce improved erections.

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One of the hidden ingredients in penis enlargement pills is sildenafil — a common PDE5 inhibitor medication that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction. 

Sildenafil is generally a safe and effective medication when it’s used as prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. However, it can cause side effects, as well as potentially severe interactions when it’s used with certain other medications.

Common side effects of sildenafil, an ingredient that’s sometimes hidden in penis enlargement tablets, capsules and other supplements, include:

  • Headaches

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)

  • Abnormal vision

  • Flushing

  • Back pain

  • Nasal congestion

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Dizziness

  • Rash

In addition to these side effects, sildenafil and similar medications that may be hidden in penis enlargement pills can potentially cause serious drug interactions when used with blood pressure medications such as nitrates.

When sildenafil is used legally with a prescription, these side effects are still a risk, but you have the opportunity to discuss them with your healthcare provider and choose the right dose for your needs.

When it comes to unlicensed, underregulated penis enlargement pills, there’s no way to know what dosage of these hidden ingredients you’re getting.

Because of this, we recommend avoiding any unapproved, underregulated supplements that claim to enhance your penis size or promote better sexual performance.

We also recommend following the FDA’s advice and throwing away any gas station sex pills or other male enhancement supplements if you already have some in your home. 

Instead, if you’re concerned about your penis size, it’s better to talk to your healthcare provider about your options, including some of the other treatment options we’ve listed further down the page. 

While penis pills might look appealing, the cold, hard truth is that there’s no evidence that they do anything for your penis size. The even tougher truth is that outside of surgery, which has its own set of disadvantages, there isn’t that much you can do to make your penis larger.

Pharmaceutical companies have yet to produce any form of penis enlargement medicine, and there’s no evidence that any type of lotion or cream has any real size-increasing effects. 

In other words, when it comes to how to make your penis larger, there aren’t any good options, at least in terms of supplements or over-the-counter medications. 

However, there are several things that you can do to increase the perceived size of your penis and boost your sexual self-confidence. These range from lifestyle changes to medications that you can use to maintain firmer, more consistent erections. 

Good options for improving your perceived penis size and sexual function include:

  • Losing excess weight. If you have overweight or obesity, extra fat around your midsection could make your penis look smaller than it actually is. Research has found that a higher body mass index, or BMI, is associated with a reduced penis length.
    Try to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a BMI in the healthy range for better well-being and sexual health. You may notice that as your waist shrinks, your penis appears larger in relation to your upper body and legs.

  • Talk to your partner. If you’re worried about how your partner views your penis, talk to them about it! It may feel uncomfortable to get this conversation started, but you’ll likely feel better getting it out in the open.
    You may find that your partner is totally satisfied with your penis size and doesn’t need, or even want, you to make any effort to make your penis larger.

  • Consider trying ED medication. Medications such as sildenafil (Viagra®) and tadalafil (Cialis®) won’t actually make your penis physically bigger, but they can help you to get and maintain an erection more easily during sex.
    This may be helpful if you find it difficult to stay completely hard during sex and feel like your penis isn’t quite as firm as it could be.

  • Try wearing a penis sleeve. A penis sleeve, or penis extender, is a support device that you can wear on your penis during sex to enhance sensation and pleasure, both for you and for your sexual partner.
    Using a penis sleeve can make your penis look and feel bigger during sex, which could be helpful if you’re worried about your partner’s sexual experience.

  • Talk to a healthcare professional. If you still have concerns about your penis, let your healthcare provider know. They may be able to advise you about your options and help you make the most effective decision for your sexual health and performance.

  • Consider talking to a therapist. If worries about your penis size are beginning to affect your self-confidence and mental well-being, consider talking to a sex therapist or mental health provider about how you’re feeling.
    We offer online counseling as part of our range of mental health services, allowing you to connect with a licensed therapist from your home. 

Choose your chew

So, you're still not convinced. Well, there are some alternative enlargement options to consider, but be warned: most of these options come with significant downsides and might not be worth the risk for a small and often negligible increase in penis size.

These options include: 

  • Penile traction devices

  • Penis enlargement surgery

  • Vacuum erection devices

We’ve discussed these treatment options in more detail below, including how each treatment works and the potential benefits it might offer for your penis size.

Traction Devices for Penile Enlargement

Penile traction therapy devices, or traction devices, are physical devices that are worn on your penis. They claim to work by straightening your penis — an effect that may help with Peyronie’s disease — and stretching the tissue to increase its length.

When it comes to scientific evidence, some research shows that traction devices may work for increasing penis length, albeit at a cost.  

For example, a small study involving 15 men looked at a specific penile traction device named the Andro-Penis®.

This study found that the device could add 0.9 inches to flaccid penis length after six months of daily use. The device was worn by the men for at least four hours per day, adding up to at least 720 hours of wear over the course of six months.

That’s a long time to spend with your penis in an uncomfortable-looking device, all for a modest increase in length. The study did not find any increase in penile girth, and the participants were not followed for the long term to check if their results were long-lasting.

A different penile traction device, called RestorX®, was tested in a six-month clinical trial, with a total of 110 men. The men that took part in this study all had Peyronie disease — a condition that involves the development of plaques in the penile tissue, causing a curved penis shape.

After six months, the men that used the RestorX® device showed an average increase in penis length of 0.79 to 0.87 inches. They also showed improvements in penile curvature and reported higher scores on a survey of erectile function and Peyronie’s disease symptoms.

While this study is certainly promising, it’s important to keep in mind that the results may differ in men without Peyronie’s disease.

Surgery for a Bigger Penis

Another option for men seeking a larger penis — albeit one that’s more invasive and higher-risk — is penis enlargement surgery, or penile elongation surgery. 

One type of surgical procedure involves cutting the suspensory ligament that attaches your penis to your pubic bone. By doing this, the penis will hang lower than before. A fat graft from another part of your body is then placed onto the shaft of the penis to make up for the new length.

We know what you’re thinking — ouch.

Research suggests that most men who seek this type of surgery have normal penis lengths, but tend to perceive their penis size as below average. Many of these men decide not to go ahead with this surgery after understanding the potential risks and complications.

Vacuum Erection Devices for Penis Size

Vacuum erection devices, or penis pumps, are devices that are used to pull blood into the penis and may help treat erectile dysfunction. They’re often used by men who don’t respond to ED medications, such as sildenafil or tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis®).

Research on vacuum devices shows that they may produce a small increase in penis size over the course of six months. However, the increase is small (just over one-tenth of an inch) and was not significant, and maintaining it requires a commitment of 20 minutes almost every other day.

In other words, it’s a fair amount of daily work for a potential increase in penis size that’s small, if there’s an increase at all.

Our guide to vacuum erection devices goes into more detail about how these products work, as well as their potential benefits for erectile health and sexual function. 

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At first glance, penis enlargement pills can look like a modern miracle. They claim to enlarge your penis, boost your stamina and even make your erections harder. And they’re available from your local gas station, at any time of day, all without any need for a prescription. 

If it all seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Penis enlargement pills don’t really work, and there are several reasons you should avoid them:

  • First, we don’t know what’s in them. Since these products aren’t approved by the FDA or regulated like medications are, they aren’t subject to the same checks as medications, which need to pass clinical trials showing they are safe and effective.

  • Second, they may contain hidden ingredients, including prescription drugs. This can be a serious safety issue, especially if you currently use prescription medications that have the potential to cause drug interactions. 

  • Third, even the “natural” ingredients inside can be harmful. Natural doesn’t always mean safe, and many of the herbal ingredients in penis enlargement pills have the potential to cause side effects if they’re used too frequently or taken in excessive doses. 

If you’re concerned about your sexual performance, you’ll get far better results by talking with a healthcare provider than by relying on sketchy pills sold on eBay or in your local gas station.

We offer a range of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation medications online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider.

You can learn more about your options for improving your sexual performance and feeling better about yourself in bed by taking part in an online ED consultation

If you’re worried about your penis size, you can also find out more about what’s actually average (as well as what most women prefer) in our guides to average penis size and the penis size that women report preferring the most

Related Articles

7 Sources

  1. FDA Warns Consumers to Avoid Certain Male Enhancement and Weight Loss Products Sold Through Amazon, eBay and Other Retailers Due to Hidden, Potentially Dangerous Drug Ingredients. (2020, December 17). Retrieved from
  2. Di Mauro, M., et al. (2021, July). Penile length and circumference dimensions: A large study in young Italian men. Andrologia. 53 (6), e14053. Retrieved from
  3. Peyronie's Disease. (2020, September). Retrieved from
  4. Gontero, P., et al. (2009, March). A pilot phase-II prospective study to test the ‘efficacy’ and tolerability of a penile-extender device in the treatment of ‘short penis’. BJU International. 103 (6), 793-797. Retrieved from
  5. Joseph, J., et al. (2020, December). Outcomes of RestoreX Penile Traction Therapy in Men With Peyronie's Disease: Results From Open Label and Follow-up Phases. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 17 (12), 2462-2471. Retrieved from
  6. Campbell, J. & Gillis, J. (2017, February). A review of penile elongation surgery. Translational Andrology and Urology. 6 (1), 69-78. Retrieved from
  7. Aghamir, M.K., Hosseini, R. & Alizadeh, F. (2006). A vacuum device for penile elongation: fact or fiction?. BJU International. 97 (4), 777-778. Retrieved from
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.


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  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570.

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675.

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