“What is the average penis size?” A question that drove peeps with penises to madness until the invention of the scientific method.

Since he was first capable of conceptual thought, the human male has asked two things: what is the nature of God and the universe, and is my penis big enough? Pretty much all betesticled folk have wondered where they rank on the penis-size scoreboard at some point.

There’s a lot of myths around penis size and its importance. Dispelling them is one of the next big challenges for how our society approaches body positivity. And we’re about to pull the pants down on this bullsh*t.

As a heads-up, much of the research focuses on cis-het relationships and preferences. But we included a section looking at research on penis anxiety from the gay community.

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Photography by Megan Madden; Prop Styling by Sara Schipani

No.

There’s no such thing as too small when it comes to penis size. At least not in the way you’re thinking.

Bulge bulk paranoia is so common that medical science people had to come up with a name for it to save everybody some time. Anxiety over penis size can cause a diagnosable mental health condition called small penis syndrome.

A small penis isn’t a barrier to a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship. In fact, there are now dating platforms that account for lesser-endowed folks.

However, anxiety and low body confidence can become barriers to a healthy sexual connection. And justified or otherwise, a below-average Johnson size makes developing confidence a difficult task for some.

In these circumstances, you might say a penis is “too small.” It’s easy to say size doesn’t matter when you’re not looking up at average from the bottom end of the scale. But it can really mess with some people’s heads.

Some penises are so far below the average measurement that doctors may provide medical intervention on mental health grounds.

So yeah, in the psychological sense, a penis is too small if making it bigger would greatly improve your daily life. But if the owner of the world’s shortest schlong is happy with it, then it’s not too small, even in medical terms.

In the judgy, societal, hypersexualized sense of the question though? No, your penis isn’t too small. And society needs to get over itself already.

The only questions you should have about your penis is whether your condoms fit.

A small penis diagnosis

Back in 1996, a few science nerds got together. They decided that now humanity had the power to embiggen our dingdongs, it was time to make sure that this power served the greater good. (With great power comes great reschlongsibility.)

To prevent the emergence of mega-penised superhumans, they came up with a set of guidelines so only those in need received this holy grail of macho-science fantasy.

After much deliberation the Council of Wang Scientists (note: not a real council name) decreed the following:

“Only men with a flaccid length of less than 4 cm (1.6 in), or a stretched or erect length of less than 7.5 cm (3 in) should be considered candidates for penile lengthening.”

And so it is written.

As per the council’s guidance, most docs now only consider a penis clinically small for mature adults if it sits below these dimensions.

Of growers and showers

If you get an erection, your willy is gonna get bigger. That’s just how it goes. What varies between penis owners is just how much bigger.

Every person with a dong knows whether they’re a grower or a shower. For some folk, an erection means their member standing up and puffing out their chest a bit. For others, a boner means their member doubling in length and moving up several waistband sizes.

On average, a penis will grow about 1.5 inches when going from flaccid to erect. Scientists did a study on it and everything. (Who said science was boring?)

So, if your penis grows 1.5 inches or less on the way to Boner town, chances are you’re a shower. Your trouser snake comes (ha) as advertised. If your pecker perks up with over 1.5 inches in length gain, you’re a grower.

Neither one is better, and the distinction means literally nothing. The only slight privilege that growers get to enjoy is seeing the look of surprise when sexual partners see them with a stonk-on for the first time. (“And for my next trick…”)

Micropenis or buried penis?

It’s important to distinguish between penises that are below average in size, and penises that are so small their size is considered a medically diagnosable condition.

Being an inch shy of average is not a real cause for concern. Size doesn’t matter… but only up to a point. Penis size can seriously dent emotional and mental well-being for some people who have a penis far enough below average size.

For many peeps with a diagnosis of micropenis, fear of judgement or ridicule is often based on experience.

(Although not always — punk stalwart GG Allin proudly flaunted his micropenis during his very naked performances.)

A micropenis is one that measures more than 2.5 inches below the current average. Based on current averages, this is anything shorter than 3.5 inches erect (roughly). Genetic anomalies in the womb lead to a micropenis. It’s not Maybelline, you’re definitely born with it.

A buried penis is different than a micropenis but can be just as challenging to a person’s self-esteem. A buried penis can be average length but hides under excess skin or fat. It may also retract into the body when not in use due to injury or a medical condition.

A previously exposed penis can become buried. It’s not usually something you’re born with. There’s a few possible causes:

  • The removal of too much or not enough foreskin during circumcision. Sometimes, the circumcision engineer pulls the remaining skin forward to hide the botch job and avoid receiving any negative Yelp reviews.
  • Ligaments that keep the penis stuck to the body can weaken.
  • If the scrotum swells because of fluid buildup (lymph fluid specifically) it can hide the penis.
  • Obesity can bury a penis beneath excess fat, hiding it from view.

Both micropenises and buried penises are treatable. The methods of treatment vary depending on cause (in the case of a buried penis). For micropenises, hormone treatment or surgery may be necessary.

One ruler to rule them all…

Using a penis to satisfy your partner isn’t an exact science. Measuring it, however, is. Well, almost.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to measure your penis. You’ll need a tape measure, preferably a flexible one as you’ll be wrapping it around your pants soldier a few steps in.

Remember that these are just numbers on a page, and it’s the size of your self-love that’s sexiest.

Well, firstly, we can’t actually answer that for you. You’ll have to go and ask them. What we can do is help you glide into that conversation with a little more prep.

They clearly can’t care that much if they stayed with you despite knowing about your small penis. Two things about sex that might make you feel better:

  • Sex doesn’t revolve around penetration with penises. The majority of lesbian relationships don’t involve a single penis and work out just fine. Dextrous hands, a slick tongue game, and a slick sexytime playlist can more than win you points in the pants department.
  • Being a C- in the bedroom is probably not an issue if you’re an A++ in every other aspect of the relationship. They chose you because they see you as a good life companion, not because you’re an orgasm factory (even though you may well be).

The only one who can truly answer the question for you is your partner. But the fact your partner is still around to ask is a good sign that penis size may bother you more than it bothers them.

What a girl wants, what a girl needs (is a caring partner)

A study of women in 2015 found that, for long-term partners, women generally preferred a slightly above average disco stick. But prefer and need are very different things. We need to do the laundry, even if we’d prefer to play “Call of Duty.”

(MSM can check out the section below on studies that examined preferences in the gay male community.)

Here’s the thing about penis size: most women don’t give a sh*t about it. In the same study that found 45 percent of men were bummed about their penis size, 85 percent of women surveyed were satisfied with their partner’s love piston.

For most women, measurements are way more important when dildo shopping than when choosing a sexual partner. Keep that in mind before you get yourself worked up over numbers.

What is a woman’s perfect penis size?

Every woman is different, and penis size isn’t the deciding factor in whether or not a woman feels satisfied from sex with a betesticled person. There’s no hard and fast rule (must… behave…) about the perfect size if you’re a penis wielder looking for vagina-inclusive coitus.

That being said, studies have revealed some averages and consistencies in female preferences in the penises of their partners:

Partner typeLength (inches)Girth (inches)
Long-term6.34.8
One-time6.45

These are ideals, however. Not requirements.

Around 77 percent of the women in the study also reported that penis length wasn’t important to them. Only 21 percent reported length was important, and wasn’t as important as girth.

A recurrent theme when surveying women about penis size is that girth/width/circumference is more important than length when it comes to sexual satisfaction.

If your penis is a little on the skinny side and this news worries you, don’t let it. Penetration isn’t even that enjoyable for a lot of women regardless of penis size. And as many as 14 percent of women under 35 years of age have never had an orgasm from vaginal penetration.

Learning to find the clit is way more important.

Big penises = big pain

A popular myth when it comes to boners is that bigger is better. That’s bullsh*t.

Butts and vaginas also have measurements. You ever tried fitting a size 10 foot in a size 4 shoe? Not fun — for you or the shoe. Ask Cinderella’s sisters.

There’s plenty of women who prefer average, or smaller penises. For a lot of women, an average or above-average penis inside them stimulates the wrong nerves and causes them pain during sex. This stops them being able to climax or feeling sexually satisfied.

Penetrative sex can cause vaginal injuries. On top of that, 8 percent of women report experiencing pain during penetrative vaginal sex due to medical conditions like endometriosis, vaginal injury, or just because their vagina is smaller than others (See? It’s not just males.)

The same thing applies for butt stuff. An orgasm can be hard to find if you’re wincing in pain.

There’s plenty of reasons for a woman to want a below average wang on their significant other. The missing inch between you and average penis length could be the reason she experiences her first vaginal orgasm.

So stick that in your measuring tape and smoke it.

Little gonads, big troubles (LGBT): Penis size anxiety in the gay male community

Gay males suffer from penis anxiety almost as much as their straight counterparts.

If your partner also has a penis, this can bring on its own anxieties. It’s hard not to compare and contrast. Those that top during anal sex might also worry that they’re not big enough to satisfy.

In a survey of 566 gay and bisexual men:

  • 38 percent reported the size of their penis causes them anxiety.
  • 22 percent had rejected a partner because of their penis size.
  • 16 percent had received derogatory comments about their penis at some point.

However, on a slightly more positive note: 74 percent of gay males surveyed reported feeling happy with their penis size overall (compared to 55 percent of heterosexual men in similar studies).

The takeaway here? Anyone with a penis can feel sh*tty about how theirs looks.

Doctors generally follow those hallowed 1996 guidelines on when to suggest penis enlargement.

Lots of men inquire about penis enlargement. Studies have found that the majority of those that do have perfectly normal-sized penises. Those that seek treatment often do so for mental health and body image reasons, rather than due to a diagnosable condition.

It’s also risky. Treatment can involve hormone supplementation or surgery — and both can have catastrophic consequences for your pork sword (or tofu wand for our vegan readers) if something goes wrong.

Your doc won’t usually recommend penis enlargement treatment unless your penis is less than 1.5 inches long when flaccid, or under 3 inches when erect.

(And no, the witch doctor clogging up your spam folder with oddly colored pills isn’t going to help, either.)

So, you probably don’t need and aren’t eligible for penis enlargement surgery or hormone treatment.

But what if your dong’s diminutive dimensions still make you feel anxious when you’re naked in front of others?

There aren’t many methods for increasing its length and girth without invasive medical intervention. One option is penis stretching. This involves manually stretching your penis with your hands or a traction device over time to increase both length and girth. But there’s no hard evidence to back its effectiveness.

Weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet

Obesity can have a severe impact on sexual function at both mental and physiological levels. This includes penis size. Obesity may block key blood vessels (which disrupts penis growth and erectile function).

Note that none of these will double your length or add inches to your girth overnight (or maybe even at all, a lot of the evidence is very anecdotal). Masturbation doesn’t work. And, no, penis pumps don’t work for penis size either.

Average? Schmaverage.

  1. There’s an average-sized penis, and it’s just over 5 inches long and 5.5 inches wide (in the U.S.).
  2. Anxiety over not having an average penis size is rife amongst men. This is more often because of societal pressure and stigma than because of unsatisfied partners.
  3. Penis enlargement can be hella dangerous, so it’s only done if you have a medically certifiable micropenis.
  4. Penis anxiety affects people of all sexualities.
  5. Women have an ideal penis size, but really don’t care that much.
  6. Some women prefer smaller penises.
  7. A lot of women don’t like really big ones.
  8. Healthy living is your best chance at growing your schlong without going under the knife.

The size of your penis matters more to you than it does to anybody else. So learn to love it. There’s a sex position for every shape and size. And if you’re an attentive lover who communicates well and genuinely cares, most partners will look past it.

Having a smaller than average penis isn’t a barrier to having a healthy, satisfying sex life and fulfilling relationships unless you let it be. That being said, the emotional distress you may be under is very valid, is understood, and there’s help out there if and when you need it.