23 Hard Truths About Penis Size

Everything you need to know about how you measure up.

Ah, the penis. An organ that is only possessed by about half of all people in the world but still continues to draw interest from almost every corner. To be fair, its evolution is somewhat fascinating, and the variety it exhibits is nothing short of impressive. Still, there's one detail that seems to generate the most discussion, and that detail has to do with size. So, let's get down to it. Does penis size matter? And just what is the ideal penis size percentile to be in for sexual performance? Read on to learn more, because we've compiled everything you need to know about what's going on below the belt.

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23 Facts About Penis Size You Don't Want to Miss

1. This is the average penis size.

Traffic sign saying "length" and "girth"
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The average erect penis length measures 5.1 and 5.5 inches. That actually reflects an increase of about 25 percent as compared to almost 30 years ago. Flaccid penis length hovers around 3.4 inches, leaving a growth window of about an inch and a half.

That's at least what a group of Italian researchers determined after performing a systematic review and meta-analysis using papers from PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library from inception to April 2022. The results were later published in The World Journal of Men's Health. Remember that these studies only took into account penises that have been measured by a medical professional. As we all know, anecdotal evidence would not exactly be trustworthy here.

2. Yes, there's a correct way to measure an erect penis.

man holding a tape measure up to his groin
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The proper way to measure a penis is to start from the top—or dorsal—side of the penis, where it meets the body (the pubo-penile junction). Get the proper—and more flattering—measurement by pushing the ruler into the pubic bone. Now, when it comes to circumference, measure at the base or midshaft, but not at the corona (the ridge of the penis head).

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3. Extra large penises are a very, very small minority.

phallus shaped vegetables
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Only one out of a hundred people with penises have one measuring longer than seven inches. If it's bigger than eight inches, then congratulations. You can officially say you're one out of one thousand. As far as penis comparisons go, you should be proud of being in this top-tier penis size percentile!

4. Some people have a preference for larger-than-average penises.

close-up of woman biting her lip
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Researchers from the University of California and the University of New Mexico gave women 33 different-sized 3D penis models that were made of rigid, odorless, blue plastic to choose from. Then, they asked the 75 study participants, aged 18 to 65, to choose the model which represented their preferred penis size in a long-term partner.

The average response was 6.3 inches (16cm) in length and 4.8 inches (12.2cm) around. Interestingly, for a one-time sexual experience, the average plastic penis chosen was slightly larger at 6.4 inches (16.3 cm) long and 5.0 inches (12.7cm) in circumference.

5. Size matters for the female orgasm (in some cases).

close up of man and woman's hands grasping sheets in bed
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A 2014 study presented at the meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco found that girth—not length—matters for one-time partners, but not for long-term ones. Scientists discovered that larger girths tend to bring the clitoris closer to the vagina during sex, which is believed to help people achieve orgasm. However, a 2012 study found those who frequently experienced vaginal orgasms were more likely to prefer longer penises.

RELATED: 100 Sexting Ideas So Hot They'll Melt Your Phone.

6. Bigger is better—but not in the long term.

baby banana compare size with big banana on male underwear
RealPeopleStudio/Shutterstock

Individual size preferences are actually different for flings and long-term partners. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that, in the last two studies, differing penis-size preferences existed for one-night stands and long-term partners. Authors of the USC/UNM study theorized as to why: "[Women] might prefer a larger penis for short-term sex partly so the increased physical sensation compensates for the reduced psychological connection."

They added that bigger may not always be better in the long term because "vaginal intercourse always causes tears in the vaginal mucosa, so women might prefer a smaller penis less likely to stress their physiology for regular, long-term mates."

7. Gay people have larger penises—reportedly.

Rainbow flag proudly waving
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A study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that erect penises among gay individuals tend to be a third-of-an-inch longer than those of their heterosexual counterparts. Scientists suspect it might have something to do with prenatal hormones that affect the structure and size of genitalia, and certain structures of the brain that affect sexual orientation. Here's the grain of salt to take with these results: the penis size was self-reported.

8. Smoking can reduce penile length by nearly a half inch.

Hand holding a burning cigarette.
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If the prospect of lung cancer hasn't caused you to give up those cigarettes, maybe this will. A study found that smokers' penises are significantly smaller than those of nonsmokers. This is partly due to the damage wreaked on blood vessels by smoking. But Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, says that smoking "may cause damage to penile tissue itself, making it less elastic and preventing it from stretching." So cut it out, man!

9. Foot size is not a good predictor of penis size.

two feet isolated on white background.
TaniaKitura/Shutterstock

Sorry, size 13s. Scientists have determined that the so-called association between average penis length and shoe size has zero scientific basis. Other characteristics that have been studied include BMI, foot size, index finger length, and testicle size in relation to penis length. The strongest and most consistent correlation with penis size—though no guarantee—was height.

10. Penile length can be increased.

Stretching latex gloves
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If you want a longer penis and can deal with the reality of having your penis stretched for four to six hours per day for four months or more, you're in luck. You can always try the "traction method," in which a penile extender stretches the penis. One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that this somewhat medieval method of penis enlargement resulted in an average increase of 0.9 in. (2.3 cm) in length while flaccid and 0.67 in. (1.7 cm) while erect.

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11. Oral Sex Brings Out Greater Size.

banana covered in red lipstick
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If you want a longer penis but don't want to subject your penis to hours on the rack, you may be interested in a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine which found that during oral sex, individuals reported larger penis measurements compared to amid other methods of arousal.

12. You can make your penis look larger by losing weight.

Man in oversized pants in weight loss concept
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A study in The New England Journal of Medicine has it that between the ages of 25 and 44, guys put on an average of 3.4 percent of their weight per year. This means if you are a 160-lb. person you can expect to put on 5 lb. annually. That gain can seem like a loss when you look in your drawers, as the pre-pubic pad of fat only makes the penis appear shorter because the base of the shaft is buried in the fat pad. If you've put on a few pounds and lost a little length, you could gain more of your old penis back with diet and exercise.

13. The penises in porn are outliers.

porn button on keyboard.
Melnikov Dmitriy/Shutterstock

The large penis is ubiquitous in porn. And more people are watching more porn than ever before. The net result is that porn has completely warped our concept of what's "normal," especially the perception of individuals who may seldom encounter an IRL erection besides their own. And porn stars are a self-selecting group. Their larger-than-average proportions and their ability to achieve and maintain erections in front of a production crew make them a truly extraordinary bunch. Why do you think you keep seeing the same handful of performers show up in porn so often?

14. And their size is often beefed up.

man winking and pointing at camera over a red backdrop
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Yes, porn penises are usually (but not always) larger than the five to seven-inch category that the super majority of folks find themselves in. But don't put too much stock in the stats you find when trying to surmise a performer's size. One well-known porn producer said that when it comes to cocks in porn the usual rule of thumb is: seven inches equals nine inches, eight inches equals 10 inches and nine inches equals 12 inches. When asked about penises above 10 inches, he replied, "I've never seen one."

15. Porn is warping our idea of normal.

eggplant on white background
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Okay, so all that big-penis porn and exaggerated measuring is probably not helping a very common type of body dysmorphia. Most people who seek treatment for the condition called "short penis" (a flaccid penis size of less than 1.6 in. and under 3 in. when erect) actually fall within normal penis size, according to one study. In a 2005 study published in the journal Urology of 92 patients who sought treatment for short penis, researchers found that none qualified for the syndrome. When researchers looked at more than 50 studies spanning 60 years, they found that 85 percent of women surveyed were satisfied with their partner's penis size while only 55 percent of people felt good about their penises.

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16. Micropenises are quite rare.

closeup of a young man holding a short piece of measuring tape next to his fly
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A micropenis measures less than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean average when stretched. We're talking an average length of less than around 2.75 inches. Only 0.6 percent of the population can boast of having a micropenis.

17. Anxiety about penis size is not correlated with actual size.

Portrait anxious young man biting his nails fingers freaking out
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A 2013 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that even participants who are average or above average expressed feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness when it came to their members. Penis anxiety was highest among gay, bisexual, and older people. It's believed the prevalence of penis shame among gay and bisexual individuals can be attributed to the opportunities to compare body parts. In older folks, that anxiety can be traced to the fact that…

18. Penises shrink over time.

shrinkage word in a dictionary.
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It may be the case that, as you get older, your penis and testicles will become slightly smaller. Blame it on the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries reducing blood flow to your penis. This can cause withering of the muscle cells in the spongy tubes of erectile tissue inside your penis. But there's more. Over time, scarring from repeated small injuries to your penis during sex or sports activities can cause scar tissue to build up. The buildup takes place in the formerly supple sheath that surrounds the spongy erectile tissues in your penis and may reduce the overall size and limit the size of erections.

19. A large penis wasn't always considered desirable.

Woman making a disgusted expression
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There's a reason why statues of the great figures of antiquity sport modest knobs. Large penises in ancient Greek art and literature are associated with foolish, lustful men, while the ideal Greek man was rational, intellectual, and authoritative.

20. There's more to meet the eye when it comes to penis size.

iceberg half emerged in water
Alones/Shutterstock

Although we spend most of our time worrying about what's happening outside of the body, it's important to remember that there's a whole lot going on inside. Some of you may be surprised that about half of the penis is inside the pelvic region. These bits are known as the "corpus cavernosum" and "corpus spongiosum." It's not just something unique to male genitalia, either. The majority of the clitoris also exists inside the body.

RELATED: 11 Sex Positions for Women You Can Try Tonight.

21. The "grower not a show-er" thing is a myth.

Multicolored home grown fresh organic carrots arranged in size on a light gray background
Letterberry/Shutterstock

A 2022 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that, despite one of society's most popular neologisms, there isn't any hard truth behind being a "grower." After observing male patients across four different hospitals, researchers identified a correlation between flaccid and stretched penile length, meaning that those who appear small before getting hard probably won't undergo any mind-blowing transformations once you get started.

22. Good posture can also help your penis appear larger.

man slouching on his computer
Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Don't reach for that penis pump quite yet, because there's another, less mechanical, way of making your penis appear bigger. Bad posture allows your hips to roll back and your stomach to protrude. Reversing that can actually help your penis stick out farther and look larger.

23. Penis pumps aren't actually for size-enhancement.

penis pump
begun1983/Shutterstock

Speaking of penis pumps, it's time to clear up a long-standing misconception. These devices don't actually contribute to permanent size enhancements among users. Their primary purpose is to help you achieve longer, harder, and longer-lasting erections than you could on your own.

Wrapping Up

That's it for our facts about penis size, but be sure to check back in with us soon for more amazing trivia. Sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar kinds of content, as well as the latest in wellness, lifestyle, and entertainment.

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