Sex Ed

5 Common Questions About Penis Size, Answered

May 26, 2017 by Justin Lehmiller

As you might imagine, in my work as a sex educator, questions about penises–and especially about penis size–come up all the time. As such, I thought it might be helpful to put together a resource guide that addresses some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic. So, here are my answers to the five most popular questions I’ve encountered about penis size.

1.) “What is the average penis size?” It is impossible to definitively say what the average penis size is because (1) no one has ever studied it with a truly representative sample and (2) people don’t necessarily agree on what the best measurement method is. That said, the best information I can offer is this: in a review of the literature on penis size that took into account over 15,000 measurements from around the world performed by trained health professionals, the median (50th percentile) erect penis length was about 13.1 cm (5.2 inches) with a circumference of 11.6 cm (4.6 inches). Click here to learn more about the details of this literature review.

2.) “Are there racial differences in penis size?” Again, we don’t have a definitive answer to this question due to the limitations on penis size research mentioned above. Also, the evidence thus far has been mixed. For instance, the aforementioned review of the penis size literature revealed no racial differences; however, other data suggest that there may very well be some race-based differences. In short, the jury is still out on this one.

3.) “Can you tell the size of a man’s penis from the size of his shoes?” According to the available science, no. In a study in which researchers collected data on both shoe size and penis size, they found no statistical association between these variables; however, they did find that penis size is related to other aspects of male anatomy, particularly height (although, of course, remember that there’s a ton of individual variability). Click here to learn more about this research.

4.) “Do women prefer men with larger penises?” According to several studies, most heterosexual women do not necessarily believe that bigger is better. For one thing, survey studies reveal that the vast majority of heterosexual women report being satisfied with the size of their partner’s penis. For another, research has found that penis size makes little to no difference in likelihood of reaching orgasm for most heterosexual women. In addition, when asked to select the penis size they think is ideal, women tend to go for one that’s pretty close to average. Of course, these results should not be taken to mean that penis size is unimportant to all women—some women do find larger penises to be more sexually desirable and satisfying. I should also mention that of the two major penis dimensions–length and girth–girth (or circumference) tends to be rated as more important by women.

5.) “Is there anything I can do to make my penis bigger?” The internet is rife with advertisements for supplements, exercises, stretching devices or extenders, and surgeries claiming to successfully increase penis size. However, almost all of these products are scams that do little more than exploit men’s insecurities for financial gain (except the extenders, which may offer very limited benefits). I mean, think about it this way: if these products really worked so well, don’t you think researchers would be writing about them in scientific journals and big pharmaceutical companies would be cashing in on them big time? The reality is that penis size does not have much potential for change after puberty stops. Also, while penile augmentation surgeries do exist, there is no standard technique and there are a lot of risks and potential complications. As a result, rather than trying to change your penis, you’re better off learning to be comfortable and confident in your own skin.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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