Penis size erect and flaccid
Penis size is an important issue for many men. If they perceive themselves as having a small penis, they may feel that they are not masculine enough, or that they cannot satisfy their sexual partner.
Obviously such insecurities are the raison d'etre behind websites like this, and indeed have spawned the whole industry of penis enlargement.
Measuring your penis
So, assuming that you wish to know how big your penis is - just for the sake of comparison, of course! - how will you go about measuring it?
There are some problems in standardizing measurements, but the difficulties can be overcome easily. First of all, you will wish to be at your maximum size when you measure the length and girth of your penis.
In scientific studies, there are various ways of ensuring this - artificially induced erections, or measuring the stretched flaccid length seem to be the usual ones adopted by medical studies.
In fact, the stretched flaccid length is a very poor predictor of erect length, and the best way to measure is to simply attain maximum erection and then lay a piece of string along the upper surface of the penis.
Unfortunately, self-reporting is notoriously unreliable, and few studies based on self-reporting can be considered indicative of the whole population's penile dimensions.
The length of your penis is simply from the tip to the base, along the upper surface of the organ, pressing slightly into your pubic area. Measuring along the underside is less reliable and gives more scope for variation.
Penile circumference - which is the same as girth - is measured around the thickest part of the shaft.
Studies on penile size
Unfortunately, any studies which rely on men to measure their own organs tend to be somewhat unreliable - and in any event, those men with smaller penises may well be less likely to put themselves forward, or they may be disposed to exaggerate their size.
We know that studies which rely on self-measurement always show longer and thicker dimensions than those where measurement is conducted by independent experts.
A study in the September 1996 Journal of Urology reported that average erect length was 12.9 cm (5.08 in). And one in the December 2000 International Journal of Impotence Research reported that average erect penis length was 13.6 cm (5.35 in).
A famous study by LifeStyles Condoms during 2001 reported that the average length was 5.9 inches. These figures compare with self-measurement surveys where averages are consistently over 6 inches.
Similar trends are revealed in reports of the circumference of the adult fully erect penis. Once again, studies based on self-measurement usually report thicker dimensions than those where staff have done the measuring. The LifeStyles Condoms survey revealed that the average circumference was 12.6 cm (5.0 in).
As we all know, the flaccid length
is not indicative of the erect length. Smaller penises grow proportionately more
when they become erect, and the increase in volume between men varies widely. A smaller-than-average flaccid penis
can grow by as much as six times its resting volume, while a large flaccid penis
may only become stiff on erection, and not increase in volume at all.
And what does it all mean?
It's hardly surprising to hear that many men (45%, by all accounts) wish they had a larger penis. Most men think their penis is average in size or shorter. Clearly there is a major self-esteem issue here, for most men think a bigger penis is more masculine or desirable.
Of course, many men do not appreciate that their penis looks smaller than it actually is when they look down on it from above - this issue of perspective is a fascinating one, and the foreshortening effect and concealment of the base of the shaft of the penis by pubic fat combine to give an impression of a smaller penis than in fact is actually the case.
And indeed, studies have shown that most men who think their penis is shorter than average actually have an average penis - in the vast majority of cases, the issue really is one of perception.
Popular myth suggests that there are many ways in which the length of a man's penis might be estimated, including shoe size, thumb length and so on, but there is no proven connection between any other part of the body and penis size, either erect or flaccid.
Needless to say there are other studies which have tried to establish connections between penis size and race, sexual orientation, and so forth. This hasn't been a priority for investigators, but suffice it to say that there is no clear evidence for such differences in the limited studies which have been completed.
More interesting to most men,
perhaps, is what women think of
penis size. Do women select sexual partners on the basis of penis size? It
There is some evidence, published in Women's Health, that women prefer a wider penis than a long one - and another study, conducted at Groningen University Hospital, among almost 400 sexually active women, reported, rather vaguely, that a "considerable percentage" of women regarded the size of the male sexual organ as important.
Penis size and vaginal response
One of the questions that consistently arises on websites devoted to this subject is that of how penis size related to the vagina. The answer seems very simple: since the vagina is very elastic and can stretch as required during childbirth, it will have no difficulty accommodating a thick penis, and since it can hold a tampon it should easily accommodate a small thin penis. Discomfort can sometimes be expected when a very long penis is pushed deeply into the vagina, but a high level of sexual arousal produces physical changes in the orientation of the vagina which may allow it to accommodate the long penis.
The most sensitive part of the vagina is the part roughly two inches inside. All men are therefore able to reach and stimulate the G spot's nerve endings with their penis. The insensitivity of the upper reaches of the vagina is demonstrated by the fact that minor surgery without anesthetic can apparently take place on the inner reaches of the vagina without discomfort. On the other hand, some women like the sense of being "filled up" by large penises even though there are few if any erotic sensations from the higher reaches of the vagina. It's logical to assume that stimulation of the G-spot may be easier if the coronal ridge of a small penis stimulates it than if the shaft of a large penis glides back and forth over it.
The question of cervical stimulation
is a vexed one: Deborah Sundahl has said that there is a cervical orgasm,
achieved when a woman is extremely sexually aroused, and when her cervix is
stimulated in this state. Other writes have said that actually this is the
result of stimulation of the anterior fornix zone - which is to be found on the
top surface of the vagina as a woman lies on her back. The cervix, fornix, and
the vaginal ending are all in close proximity of each other, so various sexual positions can cause indirect and/or simultaneous stimulation in all or one of
One correspondent has asked if there is a connection between the size of the penis and the speed with which a man ejaculates. There is absolutely no evidence that there is a physical correlation, but there may well be a psychological one. Men with small penises may have relatively lower self-confidence because of their penis size, and therefore greater anxiety. Since anxiety is one of the predisposing factors that contribute to premature ejaculation during vaginal intercourse, they may have proportionately more premature ejaculation and therefore be candidates for ways of stopping premature ejaculation more often than other men.
During intercourse, the vagina lengthens rapidly after initial
penetration from about 4 inches to 5.5 inches, but with high arousal it can
stretch to accommodate a maximum of 7.5 inches. When a woman becomes highly aroused
her vagina "tents" - that is to say it
expands both lengthwise and widthwise - while her cervix retracts, which allows
the penis to slide under the cervix into the blind end of the vagina. Considerable foreplay is generally
needed to prepare a woman for penetration by a large penis - but long foreplay
will certainly help any woman reach orgasm anyway. Thus a long penis can be a hindrance,
and certainly isn't helpful during sex.