20 Hard Truths About Penis Size
Everything you need to know about how you measure up.
Why are we here? Does God exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Truth be told, I spend very little time thinking about these larger existential questions because, as a man, I'm continually stuck on a different one of arguably equal importance: Does penis size matter? And what is the ideal penis size percentile to be in for sexual performance? Well, read on, brother, because we've compiled everything you need to know about what's going on below the belt.
1. This is the average penis size.
Let's get straight to it. The average penis size is 5.17 inches (14.2 centimeters) long when erect, and 4.9 inches in circumference when erect, according to a 2015 meta-analysis of 20 different studies published in the journal BJU International. That same study found that an erect penis of 6.3 inches is in the 95th penis size percentile; meaning that out of 100 men, only five would have a penis longer than 6.3 inches. Remember that these studies only took into account penises that have been measured by a medical professional. As we all know, we wouldn't trust anecdotal evidence here.
2. Yes, there's a correct way to measure a penis.
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).
3. Extra large penises are a very, very small minority.
Only nine percent of men have a penis clocking in at longer than seven inches. If you have a seven-incher, the percentage of the population with a smaller penis than you is a whopping 91.3276667638 percent. If it's bigger than eight inches, your penis is more sizable than 99.4963792682 percent of people on planet earth. As far as penis comparisons go, you should be proud of being in this top-tier penis size percentile!
4. Women have a preference for larger than average penises.
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 female 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 the women chose 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).
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 women achieve orgasm. However, a 2012 study found that women who frequently experienced vaginal orgasms were more likely to prefer longer penises.
6. Bigger is better—but not in the long-term.
Women's size preferences are actually different for flings and long-term partners. Eagled-eyed readers will have noticed that, in the last two studies, women had differing penis-size preferences 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. The penises of gay men are larger—reportedly.
A study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that erect gay penises tend to be a third-of-an-inch longer than those of their heterosexual counterparts. Scientists and 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.
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 nonsmokers. This is partly due to the damage wreaked on blood vessels by smoking. But Irwin Goldstein, M.D., 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.
In the aforementioned meta-analysis, characteristics such as BMI, foot size, index finger length, and testicle size were investigated in relation to penis length. The strongest and most consistent correlation with penis size—though no guarantee—was height.
11. Penile length can be increased.
If you want a longer penis and can deal with the reality of having your penis stretched for 4-6 hours per day for 4 months or more, you're in luck. You can always try the "traction method," where a penile extender stretches the penis. One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that this somewhat medieval method 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.
12. Oral Sex Brings Out Greater Size.
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, men reported larger penis measurements compared to other methods of arousal.
13. You can make your penis look larger by losing weight.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine has it that between the ages of 25 and 44 both men put on an average of 3.4 percent of weight per year. This means if you are a 160 lb man you can expect to put on 5 lb annually. That gain can seem like a loss when you look in your drawers, because the pre-pubic pad of fat only is making 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.
14. The penises in porn are outliers.
The large penis is ubiquitous in porn. 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 heterosexual males who may seldom encounter an IRL erection besides their own. 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 makes them a truly extraordinary bunch. Why do you think you keep seeing the same handful of dudes show up in porn so often?
15. And their size is often beefed up.
Yes, porn penises are usually (but not always) larger than the five to seven-inch category that the super majority of men find themselves in. But don't put too much stock in 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: 7 inches equals 9 inches, eight inches equals ten inches and nine inches equals 12 inches. When asked about penises above 10 inches, he replied, "I've never seen one."
16. Porn is warping our idea of normal.
Okay, so all that big-penis porn and exaggerated measuring is probably not helping a very common type of male body dysmorphia. Most men who seek treatment for the condition called "short penis" (smaller than 1.6 in. when flaccid 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 men who sought treatment for short penis, researchers found that none qualified for the syndrome. When researchers looked at more than 50 studies spanning the course of 60 years, they found that 85 percent of women were satisfied with their partner's penis size while only 55 percent of men felt good about their penises.
17. Micropenises are quite rare.
A micropenis is one that measures less than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean average when stretched. We're talking less than around 2.75 inches. Only 0.6 percent of the population can boast of having a micropenis.
18. Anxiety about penis size is not correlated with actual size.
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found even men who were average or above-average expressed feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness when it came to their member. Penis anxiety was highest among gay, bisexual, and older men. It's believed the prevalence of penis shame among gay and bisexual men could be attributed to the opportunities to compare body parts. In older men, that anxiety can be traced to the fact that…
19. Penises shrink over time.
It may be that case that, as you get older, your penis and testicles will become slightly smaller as you age. 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.
20. A large penis wasn't always desirable.
There's a reason that statues of the great men 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. And for more information on how to be great in bed, check out the 12 Things Men Should Always Do After Sex.