Should you be exercising your penis?
Rumours relating to hacking your sex life with the likes of ‘penis gyms’ and ‘penis training programs’ have been doing the rounds in recent weeks. So far so curious. But are these practices really a thing and if so, who is doing them and do they actually work?
Are penis workouts going to be incorporated into your normal gym routine? / Jesper Aggergaard
21 January 2020
This article is a repost which originally appeared on Evening Standard
You are by now probably familiar with the concept of biohacking, namely the self-improvement trend started by a handful of individuals who, venturing into the unknown, made it their mission to find whatever means, from microdosing to eccentric exercise trends and extraordinary diets to enhance their physical, cerebral and even spiritual function.
Five or so years later Silicon Valley caught on with the likes of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and former Facebook president Sean Parker joining the brigade and forking out tens of thousands of dollars to improve everything from their productivity to muscle condition. Often they turned to the world’s biohacking ‘gurus’, self-experimenting guinea pigs and lifestyle enhancers such as Ben Greenfield, Tim Ferriss and Gwern, as their guides, eschewing traditional medical professionals, presumably preferring the more macho and unconventional approach. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that approximately 90% of biohackers are men…
Washington State based Greenfield is an elite biohacker who says he has a biological age of nine and makes a successful living documenting his quest for the world’s most effective means of physical and cerebral enhancement. While his practice is vast and varied, covering everything from microdosing LSD to supplementation and a process described as a ‘full-body stem-cell local’ whereby every joint in the body is injected with stem cells, it is arguably his reporting on sexual performance technologies and comments on penis gyms (he wrote a blog post entitled ‘how to make your penis stronger with a Private Gym’), which have garnered most attention. On day one of the 30-day Private Gym program Greenfield wrote, ‘I start round one of my training: contract, relax, contract, relax, five rounds done. 20 rapid flexes, done. 20 second hold, done. My penis quivers (oh geez, did I just write that?) under the weight towards the end.’ It’s undeniably attention-grabbing stuff.
And before those of you with a better-than-average anatomical knowledge flag – correctly – that contrary to popular belief the so-called love muscle contains no muscle and therefore can’t be trained, we know. And so does Greenfield. What he colloquially refers to in this way is in fact – less thrillingly – known as pelvic floor training.
Long considered a woman’s work, pelvic floor exercises tone the muscles that support the uterus. Done daily they can ease childbirth, prevent incontinence and even improve your sex life. Now however, experts are keen to flag that men have the same network of muscles as women. Extending like a hammock from the tailbone to the pubic bone they support the back, abdomen, bladder and bowel helping to maintain faecal and urinary continence. In male bodies these muscles also surround the base of the penis and are activated during erection, orgasm and ejaculation, as well as being responsible for the surge of blood flow to the penis.
Medical evidence suggests that done correctly male pelvic floor exercises taught by the likes of Professor Grace Dorey a professor emeritus of physiotherapy and urology at The University of West England can improve pelvic floor control, urinary function (particularly after radical prostatectomy surgery to treat prostate cancer) and sometimes even sexual function. Doctors explain that like all muscles, pelvic ones weaken with age, but can be strengthened by tightening the muscles used to cut off a flow of urine midstream. Held for a few seconds this contraction is then released and the motion repeated 10 to 15 times.
There is unsurprisingly, a budding market of systems to aid men with such ‘exercises’. Greenfield’s preferred Private Gym for example, includes an instructional DVD and small, ultralight weights on a silicone band that fits around the penis and is intended for men who want to add a little resistance training to their routines. The KegelPad meanwhile is another tool designed to aid good practice. Of the former Professor Dorey, has gone as far as to say ‘ It’s as good as Viagra, without the costs and the side effects…the pelvic floor muscles provide the base for the erection — for the penis to sit on, if you will.”
That said Karl Monahan of London’s The Pelvic Pain Clinic recommends that patients practice due diligence when purchasing such items, taking the time to identify companies that are legitimate and well intentioned. ‘Choose those which offer sound, medically supported programs and clinical trials,’ he says. Moreover, many of the symptoms associated with poor pelvic health actually have separate root causes that should be professionally diagnosed and treated. ‘Working with an experienced specialist is the best way for men suffering with pelvic floor related symptoms,’ he explains. ‘Unguided programs can also lead to patients overdoing their pelvic floor exercises, which can in turn, have dramatic effects on their pelvic health.’
Greenfield too warns against seeing biohacking and hacking technologies as quick fix. ‘A negative implication of the proliferation of these self-improvement methods is that people are inherently lazy and so in many cases [think] these biohacks can be used as a shortcut,’ he tells us. ‘But biohacking is not a shortcut. It’s the use of science or technology to enhance human biology, but always needs to be paired with actual hard work and dedication.’