Jelqing: Is Penis Stretching a Winner or a Big Waste?

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Updated 22/03/2023

"Jelqing." Is it the hottest new social media trend? Nope. Cool new slang the young people are using? No, not even a little. 

Jelqing is actually the name of a penis stretching exercise that involves creating micro-tears in the skin tissue to allegedly give your penis additional length and a larger appearance. Yes, you read that correctly. 

If you’re self-conscious about your penis size, you’re not alone. It’s totally common and normal to occasionally wonder if you’re “big enough,” or to want some extra length and girth — in fact, lots of guys do.

However, there’s no real scientific evidence to suggest that jelqing or other penis exercises are effective at increasing size.

Below, we’ve explained what jelqing is, as well as how the jelqing process supposedly works to stretch your penis and provide additional length.

We’ve also discussed what’s “normal” when it comes to penis size, as well as options you may want to consider if you’re worried about your penis’s length, girth or ability to stay hard. 

What is Jelqing (Penis Stretching)? 

Jelqing, or penile stretching, is exactly what it sounds like — the use of exercises or devices to stretch your penis and increase your penile length. 

The theory behind jelqing is that manually stretching your penis can create micro-tears in your skin tissue. As these tears heal, your penis supposedly becomes larger, eventually resulting in extra penis length. 

Jelqing isn’t an evidence-based, conventional medical treatment, meaning it’s not the type of technique your healthcare provider will tell you to do. 

However, it’s grown in popularity over the last few decades as a result of videos, forum posts and guides that claim to explain how to make your penis longer. 

Most jelqing techniques involve stretching your penis with your fingers while it’s in a semi-erect state, typically by repeatedly massaging along your penis using your thumb and index finger.

The process of how to jelq can be broken down into the following steps (provided for reference only):

  1. Warm up your penis using a compress or warm bath. This may help to improve blood flow and get your penis into a semi-erect state.

  2. Apply lubricant to your penis to reduce friction. Using lubricant may reduce your risk of developing soreness or skin inflammation from the jelqing motion.

  3. Make the “OK”  sign with your thumb and index finger, then hold the base of the penis in this position (using your thumb and index finger to encircle your penis).

  4. Keeping your thumb and index finger wrapped around your penis, slowly pull away from your body until you reach the head of your penis, applying light and consistent pressure throughout the entire movement.

  5. Once you reach the end of your penis, move your thumb and finger back to the base of your penis and repeat the movement. 

If you’re planning to give jelqing a go, you should know that you shouldn’t do it if your penis is erect, and you should stop doing it if you begin to experience discomfort. 

You should also know that your penis size is probably more normal than you think. 

In a study published in the journal BJU International in 2014, a group of researchers used penis size data from 15,521 men, then analyzed the data to determine how large a typical penis really is.

They found that the average erect penis length was 13.12 cm (approximately 5.2 inches), with a circumference of 11.66 cm (4.6 inches). The average flaccid penis length was 9.16 cm, or about 3.6 inches.

These measurements are average penis sizes. And if you remember middle school math, you’ll know that this means true "normal" can fall well below or above 5.2 inches.

Still, sometimes how you feel about your penis doesn’t reflect reality. There’s even a diagnosis of “small penis anxiety” or “small penis syndrome” to accompany this feeling.

So, whether you fall within the normal range or not, it’s quite normal and far from uncommon to want a bigger package. The question is: is jelqing a safe, reliable way to get one?

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Does Jelqing Work?

Currently, there’s no scientific evidence that suggests that jelqing is effective at increasing penis length or girth, or that it produces any real improvements in sexual function or performance.

Most medical treatments fit into one of two categories. The first is made up of evidence-based treatments that are backed up by real, thorough scientific research, from case reports to larger studies and clinical trials. 

The second category consists of unproven “treatments” that are mostly shared in online groups, blog posts and, perhaps, between friends after a drink or two. 

Jelqing very much fits into the second category. There’s no high-quality evidence that it works in any meaningful way or that it provides any noticeable sex-related benefits. 

In fact, the scientific research on jelqing that does exist largely suggests that in addition to being ineffective, it may also be harmful.

Over the years, researchers have looked into the effectiveness of penis stretching for men who feel unsatisfied with their penile size. 

In the only worthwhile study we could find on mechanical penis stretching, one “penile extender” device called the AndroPenis® was tested in a group of 15 men.

The men’s penile measurements were taken prior to the start of the study, then again after one, three, six and 12 months of treatment.

After six months of treatment with the device for four to six hours a day, the average soft penis size of the participants had increased by 0.7 inches.

Yes, you read that right — four to six hours per day. That’s approximately 720 hours of having your penis in a traction device for a gain of about half an inch in length. 

So, maybe if you have no plans to go anywhere or do anything for a long while, this method of penis enlargement may be worth considering. 

Risks of Penis Stretching

Based on the limited research we currently have, jelqing doesn’t exactly seem to have the best safety record. 

According to Weill Cornell Medicine, penis stretching techniques have the potential to damage the nerves inside your penis, cause vein thrombosis (the development of blood clots) and lead to bruising.

Jelqing is also associated with an increased risk of bruising, pain and fibrotic scarring, which is the development of scar tissue in the penis.

Studies of similar techniques for penis enlargement have also involved complications, including hematoma and numbness around the glans penis (the tip of the penis, and the most sensitive area during sex).

Overall, it’s important to understand that jelqing and other do-it-yourself techniques for enlarging your penis can have significant risks, including some that may affect your ability to have sex with your partner. 

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Alternatives to Jelqing

When it comes to increasing penis size, there unfortunately aren’t very many reliable options out there. Currently, the best alternatives to jelqing are:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications

  • Surgical procedures to lengthen your penis

  • Improving your sexual confidence

  • Vacuum erectile devices (VEDs)

  • Penis sleeves and other sex toys

  • Fat transfer procedures to improve penile girth

These alternatives vary in effectiveness, results and potential to cause side effects. We’ve discussed each option below, including how it works and what you can expect in terms of penis size and sexual function.

Penis Enlargement Surgery

Penis enlargement surgery, or penile elongation surgery, involves cutting the penile suspensory ligament — a ligament at the top of your penis that holds your penis against the pubic bone and supports it when it’s erect.

This type of procedure can produce a small increase in the length of your penis, but it comes at a cost. Because the penile suspensory ligament is responsible for holding your penis up during an erection, cutting it may cause your penis to “hang” even when it’s hard.

This type of surgery also has a considerable complication rate and recovery time, meaning you might be out of action for some time afterward as your penis heals. 

Fat Transfer to the Penis

This procedure involves removing fat from other areas of your body via liposuction, then transferring the fat to your penis. This extra fat can give you a little more girth.

However, since the penis isn’t very fatty, injecting fat into this area can often result in an uneven, lumpy appearance that’s far from natural. It’s also common for the fat graft to lose some or all of its volume, with a 20 to 80 percent loss of fat typical in one year after this type of procedure.

Vacuum Erectile Devices (VEDs)

If undergoing surgery for a mild increase in penis length or girth isn’t for you, you might want to consider using a vacuum pump — also referred to as a vacuum erectile device, or VED.

VEDs work by creating negative pressure around your penis, which can improve blood flow and make it easier to get an erection. While research suggests that these devices don’t actually give you a bigger penis, many men report finding them psychologically helpful.

You can learn more about VEDs and their effects on your penis in our detailed guide to vacuum erection devices

Erectile Dysfunction Medications

ED medications like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) and avanafil (Stendra®) can help you to maintain firmer, more reliable erections, especially if you’re prone to issues such as erectile dysfunction. 

These medications don’t physically enlarge your penis, but the improvements in blood flow and firmness they provide might make your penis look and feel slightly larger during sex.

They’re also helpful for improving your confidence if you have sexual performance anxiety as a result of your penis size or erectile dysfunction. 

Improving Your Sexual Confidence

Another option is to accept your penis size, then focus on improving your sexual confidence in other ways. 

Although it’s often something us guys worry about, penis size really isn’t that much of a deal for most women. Get the other stuff down — namely your confidence in bed and sexual stamina — and the size of your penis isn’t likely to be a problem. 

If you need help overcoming worries about your penis size or other parts of your body, talking to a therapy provider may help.

Using our online mental health services, you can take part in individual therapy from the privacy and comfort of your home. 

Penis Sleeves & Other Sex Toys

If you’re concerned that your partner isn’t satisfied during sex, you may want to consider trying a penis sleeve. 

A penis sleeve is a hollow support device that you wear over your penis. It increases your length and girth, which may result in more pleasurable sex for you and your partner.

Adding other sex toys into the mix may also help to increase your confidence in bed and create a more pleasurable experience

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The Bottom Line on Penis Stretching

It’s far from uncommon to feel anxious about your penis size. In fact, we’d wager that just about every guy has at some point in life wondered if they’re bigger or smaller than average below the belt. 

If you’re concerned about your penis size and think jelqing could be a good way to improve your sexual confidence, there are a few things you should remember:

  • First, there’s no evidence that jelqing is effective. Studies are few and small in scale, and most research suggests that jelqing and other manual stretching techniques have little to no effect on your penis size in the long term.

  • Second, there is evidence that jelqing could hurt you. Any penile lengthening technique that involves applying pressure to your penis can cause harm, including bruising, nerve damage and the development of scar tissue.

  • Finally, you probably don’t need jelqing anyway. Most guys don’t have a penis like the ones you see in porn. Learn to appreciate what you have, and remember that porn is more often the product of studio lighting, camera lenses and editing than reality.

If you’re concerned about her satisfaction, don’t assume it would be fixed with a bigger member. Instead, focus on the aspects of sex you can improve — your confidence, your sexual technique and your ability to get and maintain an erection.

Need help with any of these? Browse our complete range of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation treatments online, or learn more about keeping yourself and your partner satisfied in bed with our guide to having better sex

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 or medication.

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