Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more

“You’ll go blind.”

“It’ll drop off if you keep playing with it.”

“You know masturbating will summon Cthulhu and usher in centuries of inescapable darkness and sorrow, right?”

You’ve probably heard every myth (except that last one) about self-pleasuring, but is giving your penis a workout going to change its size?

The answer:

Not on a lasting basis. Yes, erections are definitely a thing. But no scientific evidence supports the idea that you’ll permanently enhance or shrink your penis through masturbating.

If you experience anxiety about your penis size, myths like this can fuel the fire. Try to avoid feeding into those feelings and to practice self-love in your brain as well as in your boxers.

We’ve lubed up the science and dimmed the lights, and we’re about to flush the resulting myth-slathered tissues away.

Humans have been explaining away the perfectly healthy act of masturbation pretty much since the day humans realized it felt good.

Just so we’re clear, jacking the johnson does not:

  • make your hair fall out
  • make your palms hairy
  • cause vision loss
  • stop your penis from working
  • make you infertile
  • directly lead to mental illness
  • change the size, shape, or moral value of your penis
  • lead to erectile dysfunction

Masturbating more isn’t going to make your wiener bigger or smaller, and wanting to masturbate does not mean you’re possessed by demons.

Many of these myths circulate to increase the sense of shame and outrage around masturbation. The popularity of Pornhub suggests that most people don’t take the myths at face value.

Does masturbation stunt penis growth?

We’ll make it easy for ya: Nope.

There’s not a scrap of scientific evidence available that you will slowly jerk the bulk of your penis away or somehow gradually push it back into your body.

However, these myths always seem to spring back to life and can, unlike your penis, sometimes be hard to shake.

Can masturbation increase penis growth?

Briefly.

  1. It’ll be bigger for a little while.
  2. Your semen will briefly say hello to the world before hitting the back of a sock, like a performing dolphin.
  3. Your meaty friend will return to storage, the same size as it was before all the excitement.

Some have argued that masturbation can increase levels of testosterone in the blood. (Testosterone is the male sex hormone that makes hair sprout, sperm work, and penises develop.) Some studies have also found that testosterone levels spike immediately after you experience sexual glee.

However, no hard evidence (must… resist…) supports long-term changes in testosterone levels after sexual activity. So these little boosts are unlikely to affect the length or girth of your penis.

It’s your genes that really shape the bulge in your jeans.

While your genes are the bread and butter of your development, downstairs neighbors included, some other factors can nudge penis size in one direction or the other.

How often you masturbate is not one of ’em.

Hormones and penis size

A couple of studies have pointed toward a link between hormones. They’re like the orchestra building your body from its first day of development. In this clunky metaphor, imagine your genes as the composer and conductor.

A 2010 study found that rats’ penises grew more after the researchers exposed them to specific levels of testosterone. But ultimately, exposure to testosterone while developing in the womb didn’t lead to a larger penis in adulthood.

The study shows that penile changes take place in the womb, long before you could take any hormone medication advertised in a poorly worded email found lurking in your spam folder. (You can cross these off your list of options immediately.)

So, unless you’re an incredibly advanced fetus reading this, hormones contributed to the sterling human being you are today and all your appendages and attachments — but they won’t increase the size of your penis now.

It’s worth noting that what happens to rats and their penises may not translate to humans. Until a human study takes place, it’s best to take these results with a pinch of rat poison. (And that’s quite enough talk about rat penises for today.)

A 2019 study examined penis length as a measurement of androgen exposure in babies. The researchers found that penis length wasn’t a useful indicator, but the length of the taint — the patch of land between your balls and your butthole — and the color of the scrotum may suggest more exposure to androgens.

In short: Hormones are the Da Vinci of your genitals in utero. Learn to love how your package looks as an adult. It’s not likely to change.

Other factors

As you advance toward your twilight years, your body will go through changes that might switch up how your penis looks rather than its actual size.

A 2018 study on, well, boners found that younger people are more likely than older adults to have a penis that gets bigger when standing to attention.

In short, the effects of age may turn guys from “growers” into “show-ers” over time, meaning their penis may not change as much in size when moving from flaccid to erect.

There’s no expansion pack for your penis, short of surgery. And while, according to one study, surgery may lead to anything from no increase to a 4.9-centimeter boost, the complications can be devastating.

But rest assured that masturbation isn’t going to make the original installation any smaller, so you can pump away fear-free.

Penis length is no joke and can lead to serious anxiety in some men. But the raw power of genes and hormones means you’re limited to shaking what your mama and papa gave you. And there are ways to adapt your bedroom experiences to fit whatever shape your penis takes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that penis stretching exercises might be a temporary option, but there’s no indication of lasting penis growth. However, a 2019 research review found that men with Peyronie’s disease (a condition causing curvature of the penis) saw benefits from the treatment.

There’s still plenty you can do to change the appearance of your romance rod.

If you want it to look bigger, try giving the Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute act in your pants a trim. (There’s nothing wrong with a pube or two, but does a rottweiler look bigger out in the open or hiding in a hedge?)

Likewise, if you feel self-conscious about an oversized trouser snake, a bit of a bush might be just the right camouflage.

Masturbation isn’t changing the size of your penis any time soon, or ever.

But it could have some surprising benefits, including:

Take those benefits with a grain of salt. A recent study, found frequent masturbation actually led to lower sexual satisfaction. So, maybe masturbation isn’t one-size-fits-all? You do you.

Masturbation is also important for sexual development. Learning about what you whack off to, what you’re comfortable with, and what makes your penis feel just super-duper helps shape a healthy outlook on sex.

Finally, masturbation simply feels good. It can perk up your mood on a day when everything is going wrong or you’re just feeling lousy. So don’t hold back. Just don’t expect to sculpt your penis into anything different by doing it.

Masturbation isn’t going to change your penis, apart from making it happy. But it’s a healthy way to explore your sexuality and may put you in a better mood.

Loads of men think their penis is the “wrong” size, shape, or girth. However, it’s really the motion of the ocean that counts, rather than the size of the boat.

Size isn’t everything, and the penis isn’t everything either. If you think it is, you’re forgetting that you have hands, a tongue, and a personality. And confidence is your sexiest feature, regardless.

If you’re starting to find that masturbation or porn use is dictating your life a little, it might be time to step back and find some balance. (This also applies if you’ve been standing on one leg while doing it.)