Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty
Written by Our Editorial Team
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, most 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 most penis pills 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.
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).
This means that they aren’t really regulated in any significant sense, nor are they required to be supported by clinical trials and other scientific evidence.
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
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 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’re often 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.
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.
Myalgia (muscle pain)
In addition to these side effects, sildenafil and similar medications that are often 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, unregulated 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, unregulated 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 over-the-counter supplements or 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:
Consider 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.
Talk 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.
Talk with 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.
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.
Losing excess weight. If you’re overweight or obese, 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 normal 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.
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.
The same active ingredients as Viagra®. Starts working in 30 minutes and lasts up to 6 hours.
Same active ingredient as Cialis®. Starts working in 1 hour and lasts up to 24 hours.
Exclusively at Hims, starts working in 15 minutes and lasts up to 6 hours. Same active ingredients as Levitra®.
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.
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 pretty significant 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.
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 your 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, or penis pumps, are devices that are used to pull blood into the penis and 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 maintaining it requires a commitment of 20 minutes almost every other day.
In other words, it’s a fair amount of daily work for an increase in penis size that’s so small most people won’t ever notice.
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.
At first glance, penis enlargement pills can look like a modern miracle. They 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 in any meaningful way, they aren’t subject to the same checks as medications, which are carefully tested to make sure their ingredients match what’s on the label.
Second, they often 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.
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.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.