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Men are eternal optimists, at least when it comes to the idea of penis enlargement. We believe that something, somewhere, can permanently increase the size of our natural endowment, as easy as popping a pill. History is littered with penis enlargement pills that shriveled in the glare of scientific scrutiny. But what about Viagra, the time-tested, highly legitimate prescription ED medication? Can it make the penis bigger?
- Sildenafil (brand name Viagra) is a medication for erectile dysfunction (ED).
- It works by enabling blood flow to the penis by inhibiting an enzyme that causes an erection to deflate.
- Viagra can make your erection seem firmer and therefore bigger. But it won’t increase the size of your penis permanently.
- No pill or supplement is capable of permanent penis enlargement.
Does Viagra make you bigger?
Sildenafil (brand name Viagra, nickname “the little blue pill”) is a highly effective medication, but there is one thing it can’t do: Make your penis bigger. No pill can.
What it can do is make your erection as firm as it can possibly be, so your penis might seem bigger. Put another way, sildenafil and other ED medications make the most of what you’ve got—they won’t magically endow you with more length or girth permanently.
What is Viagra, and how does it work?
Sildenafil (brand name Viagra) is an oral ED medication that’s part of a class known as PDE5 inhibitors. These drugs work by suppressing an enzyme in the body called PDE5, which you can think of like an erection’s off switch.
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During an erection, a natural chemical called cGMP signals blood vessels in the penis to dilate and fill with blood. PDE5 breaks down cGMP, causing those vessels to contract and making blood flow out of the penis. When PDE5 is inhibited, the blood vessels stay dilated. This can make it easier for you to get an erection (as long as you’re turned on; you need to be sexually aroused for Viagra to work), and it can make an erection last longer.
Penis enlargement pills
It’s worth repeating. No pill can permanently enlarge your penis. Here’s why that is: The penis has two tubes of spongy tissue running down its sides called the corpus cavernosa and one surrounding the urethra known as the corpus spongiosum. When you’re sexually aroused, these tubes fill with blood, producing an erection. The size of your corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum are determined at puberty; when that process is done, your penis size is set. No pill can make it bigger.
Approach any supplement that claims to enlarge the penis with extreme caution. These unregulated substances—sometimes also labeled “male enhancement pills”—can be extremely dangerous. And they don’t work.
Read more about penis enlargement pills here.
For example, Extenze is an herbal supplement marketed for “natural male enhancement” (including penis enlargement and better sex). The product’s website once claimed it provides “bigger, harder, more frequent erections,” increased sexual endurance, and “massively intense and electrifying orgasms.”
The company has been sued multiple times for making false claims, and in 2018 the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to use Extenze (FDA, 2018). The FDA’s lab tests found that Extenze contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. That undeclared ingredient can dangerously interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, causing a serious or even fatal drop in blood pressure.
What is ED?
Now, if you find that your erections aren’t as firm as you like, that’s a different story. That could be a condition called erectile dysfunction (ED).
ED happens when you can’t get or keep an erection sufficient for satisfying sex. That can mean erections that are less frequent, don’t last as long as they used to, or aren’t as hard as you like.
If that’s happening to you, know that you’re not alone. ED is the most common sexual dysfunction there is—by age 40, about 40% of men have experienced it at least once, and that increases by 10% for each successive decade of life (Ferrini, 2017). Whatever your age, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Effective treatments are available.
Effective treatments for ED
Oral medications for ED are highly effective. Besides sildenafil, they include tadalafil (brand name Cialis), vardenafil (brand names Levitra and Staxyn).
Non-oral medications for ED include alprostadil, BiMix, and TriMix, which are injected into the penis, causing an erection.
Sometimes simple lifestyle changes to improve overall health can improve erections. These include eating better, getting more exercise, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and losing weight.
There’s another good reason to talk with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing ED: It could be a sign of a serious medical problem such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, or depression. Sometimes ED is the only sign of these conditions. ED can also occur as a side effect of certain medications, including antidepressants. Be sure to tell a healthcare provider about all the medications you’re taking. They might be able to adjust your dose or substitute another medication.
If you’re experiencing ED, talk with a healthcare provider about whether you might benefit from an ED medication or another strategy.