It's reputed to be a centuries-old Middle Eastern secret passed from fathers to sons. Does it work, and is it safe?
[Mike has been JackinWorld's Assistant Editor since 1997.]
Don't we all want bigger manhood? Haven't we all seen ourselves as lacking critical penile mass in those "locker-room checks" that we all seem to carry out? You may have seen recent spam ads that say things like, "Have a penis like a baseball bat!" or, "Add inches to your penis!" or, "This natural method of penis enlargement really works!" If you ever followed a link to one of these Web sites, you may have seen mentions of an "ancient, secret method" of milking the penis that Arabic men would practice on their sons before their marriage. The object of the activity was to increase the length and girth of the son's penis so he would be more pleasing to his new wife. "And for an investment of only $40," the site continues, "you can be just weeks away from adding one to three inches to the length and girth of your penis -- safely, naturally, and in the privacy of your own home!"
Sound too good to be true? Maybe. Besides, what do you really get for your $40? This JackInsider article will explain how to do "the jelq," and we got this information from Web sites that provide it for free.
"Jelqing" refers to stroking the semi-erect penis in such a way that blood is forced from the base of the penis to the end, supposedly "stretching" the cavities in the organ's spongy tissue -- the ones that fill with blood to give you an erection. According to the theory, these cavities then become larger, accommodating more blood, thus giving you a larger erect penis. The stroking method requires you to place your thumb and forefinger around the base of your penis so they make a circle. Tighten the circle to create a firm (but not too firm!) pressure, and stroke up to the ridge that marks the beginning of your penis head, the glans. As the first hand nears the glans, place your other hand at the base of your penis in similar manner and stroke while your original hand returns to the base. In this way, you create a continuous base-to-head stroking motion on your semi-erect penis. Oh, by the way -- don't get a full erection, and don't let yourself ejaculate. The method is touted as a completely safe and natural way to add between one and three inches to the length of your penis, if you persist for several months.
So, what man wouldn't like to have a bigger penis? Okay -- there was the guy in a New Yorker cartoon who sat down with his laptop and carefully typed, "Gentlemen: Thank you for your recent e-mail. I appreciate your concern. However, as of this time, I am completely satisfied with the size of my penis." But most of us can recall at least one time in our lives when we sincerely wished for a bigger penis. In JackinWorld Survey #2, two-thirds of males between ages 11 and 21 said they would like their penis to be an inch longer (or more). Before you start jelqing, though, it might be a good idea to look a little more closely at this "bigger is better" notion regarding penises -- especially yours.
The Myth Of The Big Penis
In our culture, it seems to be widely accepted that most men have penises larger than our own, and that larger penises give more pleasure to their owners than do smaller ones. (And every man wants more pleasure from his penis, right?) The pornography industry has fostered the idea that a bigger penis means more sexual fun -- more intense feelings both for its owner and for the lucky recipient of such a magnificent specimen of manhood (not to mention the undying admiration of less-well-endowed male friends). The porn industry does tend to hire models that, indeed, have penises on the high end of the size range. Plus, these guys are photographed at angles that tend to magnify their penises even more in relation to the rest of their bodies. Moreover, pornographic stories are full of men with penises that measure anywhere from 7 1/2 to 12 inches and beyond.
Another source of the myth might also lie in a physiological fact: There is greater variation in length of soft penises than of hard ones. This means that if your penis is only a couple of inches when soft (flaccid), it will gain more length when it gets hard than will a man whose penis is 4 1/2 inches when flaccid. So when you were in the high school showers envying the guys that were really "hung," you were seeing this greater variation of length in the flaccid penis. The shorter ones grow more; the longer ones grow less. This is the reality: The average length of the erect penis is between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 inches. Said another way, between 2/3 and 3/4 of adult men have penises that are between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 inches when erect.
Does Jelqing Really Work?
I'm afraid there is no definitive answer to this question. All of the "proof" offered on the many Web sites that promote penis enlargement consists of testimonials, some with pictures. Often, the site's owner claims to have had success with the method. It is obvious that some of the "before and after" photographs have been graphically altered to make the penis appear to be huge. Other photos show the "after" shot from a different angle than the "before" shot. Some show the penis against a ruler in "before and after" shots -- but we all know that depending upon our mood and activity, a penis can vary continuously from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches flaccid, and from 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches erect. It's not always obvious in a photo whether the "before" version is just a photo of the man's flaccid or semi-erect penis supported by his own hand. Without independent studies of the question, done using an accepted scientific method, it's questionable whether jelqing actually works.
There are some logical questions here as well. I can't imagine myself at age 16, or even 26, being able to stroke my semi-erect penis for any extended time without becoming fully erect and feeling compelled to continue to ejaculation. Also, the idea of many Arabian fathers passing this method on to their sons does not square with the fact that many resources on Islam consistently describe very strict constraints on sexual behavior. Finally, I could find *no* source in print or on the Web that refers to the term "jelq" -- not in dictionaries, not even in the International Encyclopedia of Sex, owned by a colleague of mine who has taught in a Human Sexuality Ph.D. program for many years. He had never heard of the term, either.
Any Safety Concerns?
I found several Web pages posted by a urologist that discuss the risks of jelqing. A few just say, "Don't do it!" Others go into greater depth to explain the dangers. A summary: First, you need to understand a little bit about how "vacuum therapy" has been used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED -- that is, difficulty in getting or keeping an erection long enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse). The jelq method seems quite similar to vacuum therapy. A man places a plastic cylinder over his flaccid penis, seals the chamber at the base of the penis with petroleum jelly, and then pumps air out of the cylinder to create a partial vacuum. This difference in pressure causes blood to flow into the penis's erectile tissues, causing the organ to become at least semi-erect. A latex band is then rolled off the end of the cylinder onto the base of the penis so blood becomes trapped in the penis.
Both with jelqing and vacuum therapy, blood is forced into the penis under unnatural circumstances, with a risk of rupturing tender blood vessels and causing bleeding within the penis. The blood vessels in the penis nourish all tissues in the organ -- erectile tissue, nerves, and the blood vessels themselves. If the nourishing capacity of the blood is impaired in any way, not only is the erectile tissue damaged, but also possibly the nerves that send us all those good feelings. Further, as these ruptures heal, scarring can occur, which may result in permanent damage to the blood vessel. If this damage occurs repeatedly, the penis can permanently lose its ability to become erect, as well as to transmit all the wonderful sensations of sex to the brain. Urologists work with men who have erectile dysfunction to help them keep the use of the vacuum pump within safe limits -- usually, no more than 30 to 45 minutes of continuous use once a day. More expensive models of the pump have pressure gauges so men can keep the pressure in the cylinder within safe limits; cheaper models don't, so the user has to rely on guesswork.
The same thing applies to jelqing. How do you know how much pressure to use or for how long to do it? You don't. How can you tell when you have damaged a small blood vessel (about the size of one of the hairs on your head)? You can't. If your penis becomes damaged, you can see the results only after it happens -- a bruise or a red mark or a bump, or unusual soreness.
Some Web sites promote jelqing as a safe, natural method to enlarge your penis. But there are few or no references to the term in historical or anthropological literature, no scientific studies to support or refute its effectiveness, and the very real possibility that you could damage your penis by engaging in the practice. The Web sites that sell information about the practice are really selling memberships in chat rooms or discussion groups, and access to online tutorials, with the promise of some kind of "professional" support. People are probably able to sell penis-enlargement methods easily because so many men view their penis as being too small, and see having a larger penis as the path to greater sexual fulfillment for them and their partners. In most cases, that's just foolish and misinformed. It therefore seems wise to avoid the practice and instead be happy with your penis as it is. Larger penises don't feel any better than smaller ones.
(Please be skeptical of any ads for penis-enlargement products that may appear on these sites!)
Better Penis: www.betterpenis.co.uk/index.htm
Ask the Sex Doc, page 16 (search on "jelq"): www.sexdoc.com/quess16.html
Web MD, Penile Enlargement: Fact or Phallacy? my.webmd.com/content/article/1685.50002