What is jelqing?

Jelqing is a penis stretching exercise. It involves massaging your penis tissues, stretching the skin to create “micro-tears” that look engorged when they heal.

This supposedly makes your penis look longer or thicker — but does it actually make a difference? Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the point?

The whole point of jelqing is to make your penis larger.

But most of the “evidence” for jelqing is anecdotal. No research exists on how successful this practice is (or isn’t).

According to some of the more dubious claims out there, consistent jelqing can help:

  • increase the girth of your penis when you’re flaccid and erect
  • increase the length of your penis when you’re flaccid and erect
  • make your erections last longer

Does it actually work?

The short answer? Not really, but maybe.

There’s not enough science or research to say for sure either way.

Here’s a short overview of some science that suggests what’s possible with similar (but more rigorous) stretching techniques using traction devices:

  • 2011 study found that using traction devices could increase penis length up to an inch if worn at least 9 hours a day for 3 months.
  • 2011 review of penile lengthening literature found that traction devices produced comparable results to surgery, recommending traction devices as a first-line treatment.
  • 2013 review of studies done on traction devices only found that traction devices were effective in treating penis deformities, not making the penis longer or thicker.
  • 2016 report found no significant effects of traction devices on penis length or girth, noting that more, larger studies are needed.

Are there any side effects to consider?

Jelqing is pretty safe as long as you’re not squeezing your penis too hard, too often, or too aggressively.

Being too aggressive can tear tissue or cause damage to the ligaments that connect your penis to your pelvis.

In the worst cases, this kind of damage can permanently affect your ability to get or stay hard.

Other potential side effects include:

  • bruising on the penis
  • pain or soreness along the shaft
  • skin irritation from rubbing
  • scar tissue resulting from rubbing too hard
  • erectile dysfunction (ED)

What precautions can you take to minimize side effects?

If you’re still interested in trying it out, taking a few precautions can help reduce the likelihood of pain, discomfort, or damage to your penis:

  • Lube up your penis. Use something to make your penis wet and slippery so that you don’t create too much friction or chafing between your hand and penis. Regular oil’ Vaseline will do, but you can also use a gentle, unscented lotion, baby oil, or any number of food oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil if you’re in a pinch.
  • Don’t get all the way hard. Instead, get about two-thirds of the way there. The key to jelqing is to gently massage and move blood throughout your tissues. If you’re fully erect, blood is already pumping through the spongy penile tissue at full blast, and the tissue’s completely filled with blood.

And some other tips for jelqing and any other stretching exercises you try:

  • Stop if doing the exercise is painful or uncomfortable.
  • Sit down or lean against a table or wall while doing them.
  • Don’t do these exercises more than two times a day, at most, so that you don’t injure yourself.
  • Talk to your doctor if you plan to do these exercises for longer periods of time each day, do them more frequently, or do them over the long term.

How do you do it?

Alright, let’s teach you how to “jelq”:

  1. Put your index finger and thumb in an O shape, like the “okay” hand signal.
  2. Place the O-shaped gesture at the base of your penis.
  3. Make the O smaller until you put mild pressure on your penis shaft.
  4. Slowly move your finger and thumb toward the head of your penis until you reach the tip. Reduce the pressure if this feels painful.
  5. Loosen your grip at the tip. It should take you about 3 to 5 seconds from base to tip.
  6. Repeat this once per day for about 20 minutes.

Here are some tips in case you want to switch up your technique:

  • Experiment with grips, like the pincer. To do this, put your thumb underneath your shaft, your index finger on the top of the shaft, and squeeze gently with both facing down (like you’re trying to pinch something).
  • Try it without lube. Using lube is a good safety precaution, but you may want to skip it if you find that it’s making you super hard or overstimulating your nerve endings. Just be careful that you don’t chafe or irritate your skin.

How long should you continue this practice to see results?

How soon you see any results likely depends on how consistently you jelq and what your individual technique is.

It’s not clear from any existing research how long it usually takes to see results from jelqing or other stretching exercises.

Even devices that do have documented success in penis lengthening or thickening, such as penile traction devices, take months before having any effects.

At what point should you discontinue this and seek out other options?

You should discontinue the practice if you experience any of the following during or after a jelqing session:

  • pain or discomfort
  • itchiness
  • bruising or discoloration
  • red spots on your shaft
  • numbness or tingling
  • vein rupture

What else can you try?

Here are some other options — some with a little bit more research and success behind them — to help make your penis longer, harder, or more erect:

  • Penis pump. For this technique, you place your penis in a long tube filled with air, and a pump mechanism sucks all the air out. This causes blood to rush into your penis and give you an erection. Once you’re erect, you put a clamp at the base of your penis to keep it hard (for up to 30 minutes) while you have sex or masturbate.
  • Traction device. These are intended to stretch out your penis over time. To use one, you insert your penis into one end of the device, secure that end to your penis and the other end to your pelvic area, and pull the device so that the penis is stretched out. Then, you leave it stretched (not enough to cause pain or discomfort) for about 4 to 6 hours a day for a few months.

When should you see a doctor or other healthcare provider?

See your doctor if you aren’t seeing any results after a few months or just aren’t happy with your erections.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you seek medical or surgical treatment:

  • The average length of an erect penis is 5 to 7 inches. If you’re in that range, you may be underestimating just how long your penis really is.
  • Mental or emotional stress can affect your ability to get or stay erect. Your doctor may recommend seeing a sexual health counselor or therapist if there’s nothing physiologically wrong with your penis.
  • Having a sharply curved penis or pain when erect could be a sign of Peyronie’s disease (PD). It results from scar tissue in the penis. It can be treated successfully with some of the same procedures used for penis lengthening and thickening.

One possible clinical option (with documented success) that your doctor might recommend to treat PD or take that extra step to increase your penis size is a penile implant device.

This involves surgically inserting a silicone block or sleeve around the tissues in your shaft to make your penis longer or thicker.

The bottom line

Try jelqing if you want, but don’t expect your penis to grow overnight.

There’s not much out there to support any results from this exercise — and if you’re truly invested in increasing your penis size, there are much better options.