A penile traction device is an external therapeutic device used for penis extender in men who are mildly lengthened and experience erectile dysfunction. The name was derived from the Greek word “troglodyse” which means “to stretch”. It functions as a mechanized traction device that stretches the penile size in both the erect and flaccid condition to make it bigger. Although there has been some clinical use of these products in certain conditions, traction devices are not scientifically proven and their claims cannot be accepted at face value. Therefore, their use is not recommended by medical professionals.
In a recent study published in JAMA, a group of researchers led by Dr. Steven Teitelbaum of the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City reported their findings of a random controlled trial. Their report specifically pointed out the dangers of using a penile traction device as opposed to simple exercises and stretching: “our analysis showed that there was no statistically significant difference in the magnitude of improvement or worsening in either patients’ satisfaction with the treatment or with their sexual function.” Furthermore, the researchers emphasized that there was a lack of evidence that traction devices can prevent or reduce the likelihood of erectile dysfunction or PE. They concluded that further studies should be conducted on large groups of men with different penile traction device needs to ensure that there is not just a trend towards increased risk but actual improvements in either function or sexual satisfaction as evidenced by the present data.
The device was designed for use in patients who experience ED with erection problems as evidenced by a need for traction. However, it is being used more frequently as a result of the media attention directed at its effectiveness. Its manufacturer claims that its penile traction device allows men to achieve rock-hard erections, even when the penile size is small. But based on the data of a trial, published in 2021 in BMJ, of 6 trials conducted on a sample of patients, the device was found to have limited benefits in terms of improved erection length or increase in libido.
This study was performed by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The purpose of the study was to assess the safety and the effectiveness of penile traction devices with respect to deformity. The device was divided into three categories based on the degree of penile traction (thickness, length or girth). While there was no significant difference in terms of the mean values for each category, the difference in mean deformities was not significant (d = -0.15). Also, while there were no significant differences between the devices, there was a trend for more severely deformed penises for those in the thickest traction devices and those in the shortest.
Based on the aforementioned data, Dr. Ziegelmann and his colleagues conducted a well-designed and well-conducted randomized controlled trial. Thirty-two men with penile curvature problems were randomly assigned to use one of the three different traction devices. The men used a penile traction device for 6 months. The subjects also had their penile curvature measured before and after the 6 month period.
The study found that although there was an increase in mean erectile length (range -3 to 6 inches), there was no significant difference in mean libido or erectile dysfunction severity (range -2 to -4). There were no cases of infection or suspensory loss and there were no reports of adverse sexual side effects. The authors concluded that the results of this study reinforce the need for further studies on the safety and the efficiency of penile traction therapy (ptt).