A 27-year-old man recently lost R190 000 to a bogus traditional healer who promised him a bigger penis. This happened in the Pretoria CBD. Police say the victim was lured by a pamphlet that looks something like this:
And while some people might dismiss it as crazy and even careless and wonder who would fall for it, insecurities are real, and moneymakers prey well on insecurities.
Men targeted could have micropenises -- an actual medical condition -- or the insecurities could come from the man thinking that his penis is smaller than average, a condition known as small penis syndrome. Studies show that most men underestimate their penis size when it's well within normal range.
It also doesn't help that no matter how much you hear "it's not the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean", that matters, the "is it big or small" question still comes up in conversations around sexual satisfaction. And it's a sure way to create some anxiety about sexual performance.
So where do some men turn to for help? There are surgical and non-surgical methods.
But surgical methods to increase penis size can be problematic, and are costly
The surgery is called penile enlargement, and one of the ways it can done is by taking fat from one part of the body and injecting it into the penis and shaping it around the shaft. However, surgical methods have not received a lot of endorsement from the medical community, as there is no consensus on surgical techniques, and the procedures are normally risky. According to Health24, it can lead to impotence, infection, excessive bleeding, a low-hanging or even shorter penis. Surgery can also set you back a hefty R100,000, according to a South African team Men's Locker.
The non-surgical methods aren't so reliable
These may involve vacuum pumps, attaching weights to the penis to stretch it, and the famous pills, potions and creams.
Most of these techniques, however, are also not supported by any scientific evidence. Urologists in this study found that penile extenders or penis traction devices are the only evidence-based technique of penis enlargements, with some results. They recommend that extenders be proposed as the first line of treatment for patients seeking penis enlargements.
Men's Locker, the South African team behind a traction device, agrees. The team's Danny Southern told HuffPost SA that they also did not support surgery at all and other enhancers like creams and oils, but they were all for penile extenders. These devices "essentially cause your body to create new cells, thereby increasing the size of the penis," said Southern.
The University of Minnesota's urological surgery chair, Dr Jon Pryor, told Men's Health: "It's like a tissue expander, which plastic surgeons use. I'll bet the penis does get longer."
This is how it works:
Penis traction devices usually consist of a ring-shaped base that fits over the root of the penis and rests on the pubic bone, one or two adjustable and calibrated rods extending from the base, and a flexible band that slips over the head of the penis. To add length you put your penis on the rack, a plastic ring sits at the base, a silicone holder grabs the penis head, and extender bars apply pressure.
Some compelling conditions for penile surgery
Surgery may be recommended for men who have lost all or part of their penis because of injury or other reason. Just earlier this year, a team of doctors successfully completed South Africa's second penile transplant. The 40-year-old recipient had been without a penis for 17 years after a botched traditional circumcision.
But these are only exceptions, caution doctors.