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Shown Actual Size: A Penis Shape & Size Lowdown

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Throw a rock at any sex education site or service, ask what the most common question we get is from people who identify as men and we'll all tell you -- with an air of exhaustion, mostly because we get asked it so often and it's so clear to us how these worries hold men back from feeling good about themselves and their sexuality, as well as how they often negatively impact sexual relationships -- that it's about penis size.

While many statistics show that around half of all men are dissatisfied with their penis size (despite the fact that their partners don't feel the same way), with younger men it often seems even more common.

One typical reason is that younger men will often have unrealistic ideas about penises. When you're young, if you're making comparison, they're probably either to only a few different people -- like your Dad, maybe your best friend, maybe a few guys you've seen in passing in the restroom -- when the range of penis size varies enough that to get realistic ideas about it, we've got to be looking at more than just a few penises. With pornography becoming more and more accessible over the years, more guys are also looking at penises in porn, a really unrealistic place to look since the actors cast in porn don't tend to be the norm at all when it comes to size or how long or often they can become or remain erect for.

Is my penis size normal?

Let's start by looking at some basic averages, based on broad, credible studies of a variety of men. When you flip through most studies, what you'll usually find is that:

  • The average adult penis flaccid (not erect or soft) is around 3 to 4 inches long.
  • The average adult penis erect (hard) is around 5.5 to 6.2 inches long.
  • The average adult penis erect is around 4-5 inches around (in circumference).

This image based on a study done by Lifestyles condoms can give you a good look at what the size range between men is like.

What size a penis is when it's flaccid (not erect) doesn't necessarily indicate what size it will be erect. As I explain here, some penises flaccid are very nearly the same size as they are when they are erect, while others are smaller than they are erect. Neither "growers" nor "showers" are better than the other: they're just different.

When looking at studies and statistics on penis size, pay attention to who measured the penises involved. In studies where people measure themselves and self-report, we usually see larger averages than we do when doctors or nurses are doing the measuring and reporting. As stated in this study by Ansell, where people were not self-measuring, when medical staff are the ones holding the tape measures, average sizes are always below six inches in length. They also note that looking at self-reporting studies, on average people seem to overstate their own penis sizes from a quarter to a half an inch.

(If you want to dig around for yourself, the kinds of studies our averages come from here can be found neatly organized in the notes for the Wiki on penis size here.)

Sammy asks,

I'm not exactly worried about my penis size, I'm just wondering if it has stopped growing. I'm only 13, and my penis is about 6.5 inches... so has it stopped growing? At what age does your penis stop growing?

Memphisboi asks,

Does penis growth happen overnight? Is it okay for me to be 3 inches at 13?

Cj asks,

I'm 15, and when I measure my penis erect its only about 4 and 3 quarter inches long, and then all my friends in locker rooms and stuff has MUCH larger penises, and I feel I am way below average sized, and wondered if it will grow anymore and if theres a chance I may have some type of disorder? It really concerns me, and I'm scared to get a girlfriend just for the reason it might lead to sex, and my penis is so small it really actually embarrasses me, and lowers my self esteem. I need help on knowing if it will grow anymore, even though my whole body is starting to stop because already im 5'11 and about 165 pounds, and will be 16 in just a few months.

Chrpartyboy asks,

I'm thirteen and I have 4 inch penis is that normal, or am I weird?

Mavuto asks

I'm a 19 year old black guy. I masturbate a lot and overweight. I was wondering if my penis will continue growing? Has all this masturbation got something to do with my size?

Those statistics above are, as they say, about fully grown adults, not teens.

We are often asked what the average penis size is for, say, a 15-year-old. The trouble is that where someone is at in puberty isn't the same for people of the same age. For most, penis growth starts anywhere between the ages of 11 and 16, and on average, around 13 or 14 years of age. Before penis growth starts, you'll usually have both a growth spurt in terms of your height, as well as testicle growth. Penises also will tend to grow faster or earlier in length than they will with width.

During the time that young men are going through puberty, before growth is completed, the average penis size for an adolescentof any age varies from between two to five inches. No one asking any of these questions is weird or abnormal: you're all just fine.

Penis growth doesn't happen overnight: it's gradual, just like any other kind of body growth, and may also happen in spurts. In other words, you may have times of some growth, then a long pause, then some more growth again later. By the time you're done with puberty, your penis will be done growing. People with penises will usually be done with puberty by the time they're 20 - 25, and when you're done with it can vary, and is influenced by when you started. Overall, someone who starts puberty on the earlier side will usually be done on the earlier side, while someone who started puberty later will usually end it later.

Penis growth or size isn't changed by masturbation: whether someone masturbates or not, does so often or infrequently, the size of their penis is going to be the size their penis is. What someone weighs also isn't going to have much to do with the size of the penis, though thin men's penises may look bigger in perspective to the rest of their bodies, and larger men's penises may look smaller in the context of the rest of their bodies. Like most of our bodies, the size of someone's penis is mostly determined by genetics. Just understand that that doesn't mean because your Dad's penis is big or small or tilts this way or that yours will be the same. Genetics are more complex than what comes from just one parent or family member. There's never been any credible data which shows that the size of someone's feet or hands correlate to penis size, nor that, overall, any one race has a smaller or larger penis size than another.

Penis size also can differ a bit for one man from day to day when we're talking about erections. Not all erections that happen to a given person are the same size all the time. In other words, some days, a person has an erection that's bigger (or smaller) or harder (or softer) than it was the last time, perhaps because he's more aroused this time, because of what time of the day it is, even what temperature it is at a given time.


Do I have a micropenis? Cory Silverberg reports that, "Despite the fact that researchers disagree on what constitutes an average penis size, a micropenis is considered in newborns to be around 3 /4 of an inch (1.9 centimeters) in length, and in adults to be less than 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) in length when flaccid and stretched." Understand that we're talking about fully grown adult men here, not pre-teen, teen or young adult men. Most men who think they have a micropenis? Don't.

Purplehazed asks,

One of the guys my girlfriend hooked up with before we met was hung like a horse. From what she describes he had at least an 11 inch penis. She gave him head once or twice and a few handjobs. After i learned about this, it started driving me crazy and I kinda went into a depression. I know its stupid of me but i feel in-adequate. I'm not small, it's about 7 3/4 to 8". Is it stupid of me to worry that she'll want something bigger? It almost seems selfish of me to think that way about her when I know she loves me and only me, but I guess its just the male ego complex. Any advice?

Look at an object on your desk where you're reading this right now. Quick: how many inches is it, off the top of your head. Now, get out a ruler and measure it. Were you right in your estimate?

When we are asked to visualize a given number of inches without a ruler, many of us are going to err. A partner is not likely to know the size-in-inches of their partner's penis unless they pulled out a tape measure, or unless that partner told them what it was (in which case they may or may not have been honest). If you hear partners reporting that they have had partners with 11-inch penises, you can be pretty sure they're either not being honest, or their idea of what 11 inches is isn't so accurate.

For those with partners who have vaginas, not penises, know that when most are unaroused, the distance from the vaginal opening to the back of the vagina is around three or four inches. When they become highly aroused, the back of the vagina tents and lengthens that canal, but only by a few more inches. On average, when very aroused, the distance from the vaginal opening to the back of the vagina is about seven inches at a maximum, though it can stretch an inch or two beyond that to accommodate a longer penis than seven inches. Don't forget: while the cervix pulls back some when that happens, too, it still juts out into the vaginal canal, and having it bumped around a bunch can actually hurt like the dickens.

Ashley asks,

My boyfriend and I had sex for the first time this past weekend and it was both of our first times. I wasn't expecting much because I had heard that having sex for the first time usually isn't the most pleasurable. Our problem was that for some reason he couldn't go all the way into me, and for me, it felt like there was no way I could hold all of him. He is decent in size and I know I should be able to hold him but every time we tried, he would slip out or he couldn't get all the way in. What should we do?

So, those with larger penises (and some even with average-sized penises sometimes), need to bear in mind that it may or may not even be comfortable for partners to have a penis pushed all the way inside an orifice to the base. If a guy with a real-life 11-inch penis was having vaginal intercourse and was trying to push his whole penis in, it'd most likely not be mind-blowing for his  partner, but painful. That can even be the case with guys who have average-sized penises, especially at times when your partner is nervous or isn't strongly aroused before your penis is on the scene.

If we're talking vaginas, when it comes to the most sensitive area of the vagina (not her vulva: the clitoris is usually the most sensitive part of that), it's around two inches in. Further than that, vaginas aren't that rich with sensory nerve endings, so more depth than a few inches can produce some general sensation, but nothing to usually write home about in terms of a targeted wow. If you engage in anal sex with male partners, it's also only two inches or less inside the rectum to the prostate, the sensitive area inside male bottoms. In other words, no matter what kind of intercourse you're having with your penis, be your partners male or female, almost everyone has a penis long enough to get to the good stuff.

Another big cause of penis worry for younger men appears to be rooted in worries about sex when it hasn't been experienced at all, or when ideas about genital intercourse aren't so sage, like the idea that any given size of penis alone has a lot to do with a partner's sexual satisfaction. We've said it here a million times before, but I'll say it again: only a minority of women reach orgasm from intercourse alone no matter what size or kind of penis a guy has, what position a couple has intercourse in, or how long an erection lasts for. Who knows, maybe your girlfriend is in that minority, in which case even if her ex really did have an 11-inch penis (again: highly unlikely), you BOTH have penises longer than her vaginal canal is likely to be when she is as aroused as possible.

It may happen that you have a partner who sometimes wants to feel more "full" than they do with your penis: that may not even be about penises at all, but about desire for a different activity altogether. Whether we're talking about male or female receptive partners, an awful lot of people -- probably including you -- will want more than intercourse or something other than intercourse often enough no matter what size your penis is. That's okay. If you have a partner who wants something larger, wider, more curved or more flexible, or to feel a different sensation than he or she is feeling with your penis, you've got hands, they've got hands, you have a mouth, other parts of your body or sex toys. It doesn't make a lot of sense to try and hinge your or someone else's entire sexual satisfaction on one body part or kind of sex. When you're at an all-you-can-eat buffet, why only put one thing on your plate?

Physical issues aside, we can safely say that one thing most people find most exciting about sex is novelty. In other words, even when one given body part or activity often feels really good, most people still aren't going to stay very excited over time by doing the same one thing again and again: most people are more excited and fulfilled by keeping things mixed up a little. Sex is a lot more interesting when it's about whole bodies, not only a few inches of any one part.

Who does size really matter to most?

Usually? Almost always? Men.

One study found that 85% of women with male partners reported being satisfied with their partner's penis size while only 55% of men reported satisfaction with their own size. We see the same kind of difference when it comes to men reporting how they feel about a female partner's breast size and the women reporting on feelings about their own breast size. When it comes to the appearance of our own sexual parts, the old adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" appears to often be false. Many people will say what they're worried about with genitals is what a partner will think, but it's pretty clear the problem is usually with what folks think themselves, since partners tend to be the ones who are the least judgmental and the most accepting.

If you really want to impress a woman, you're not likely to do that by bragging about your penis size or by being obsessed with your penis. When we shake out all the opinion studies with women and penises, we can easily draw the conclusion that not only do less women care about penis size than men, but that women also often have little patience for guys fixating on their penises. Men with male sexual partners may sometimes find themselves more often exposed to potential partners who care or vocally advertise that they care about size. But what I'd encourage you to do is to remind yourself that again, when it comes to who is the most concerned with penis size, it's always been and probably always will be men. It's also pretty likely that a gay or bisexual man who is fixated on the size of their partner's penises is probably, at least in part, projecting his own insecurities and issues with penis size unto another man. However, there are plenty of male partners who have evolved past all that.

That isn't to say some people, male or female, may not still have certain penis preferences or likes. Some people do.

When penis preferences exist, they are usually more about width than length, if they're about size at all. In fact, it's often infrequently mentioned that some women find that penises which are longer than average -- particularly when their partners are very aggressive or hasty with intercourse -- can be a source of discomfort, not pleasure (and if you're a guy with a longer schlong, that doesn't doom you, either: you just want to communicate with your partner to be sure that your depth during intercourse is something that feels good to her, and adjust as needed). But, preferences or likes when it comes to penises may be about aspects of the penis you don't even think about like the texture of your veins, the way your penis curves, the shape of the head, how penises vary in terms of where they're thick and where they're thinner. There are so many kinds of penis likes a person can have that it's pretty likely most penises are going to have one of whatever specific thing someone has found they liked going on. When it comes to what's exciting and interesting with sex and partners, the devil is usually in the details, not in something we can measure with a ruler.

I'd say the same things to you guys about penis preferences that I would to women about male preferences or likes when it comes to breasts. Many people have aesthetic preferences when it comes to sexual or romantic interests or partners. Some people find taller people more attractive than shorter people, brunettes more compelling than blondes, prefer small noses, big noses, bigger lips, smaller lips, big butts, little butts, body hair, no body hair. You name it, someone has a preference for it.

But a preference doesn't mean someone has an aversion to something which is different than their preference, nor that that preference will always exist or usurp other likes. In other words, because someone likes X doesn't mean that Y or the idea of Y is a turn-off. I've got a preference for taking baths, but that doesn't mean I hate showers, nor that there aren't times when a shower is just the thing. And if any given shower in question had some other things I liked about it -- maybe it's gorgeous in there, maybe the water stays hotter longer -- I may even find that, over time, my preferences shift.


Did you know there's now even a term for men who are convinced they have small penises? SPS, or small penis syndrome, is what sexologists call it when a man has a pervasive obsession or preoccupation with the idea that his penis is too small. And most men with SPS? Don't have small penises: they have average sized penises. Researchers have found that the roots of SPS do seem to start in childhood or adolescence, and it is often enabled by locker room comparisons (to the degree that some researchers colloquially call SPS "locker room syndrome"). For more on this new term, click here.

You've got to already know that one preference for one kind of body part or one area of appearance doesn't usually dictate how someone feels about a whole person. Not only can we find new preferences or have shifts in our preferences, but other parts of that whole person may fulfill or meet other areas of preference a given person has. So, if it happens that you're not the guy who has something about your penis that happens to fit a given partner's existing sexual or aesthetic preferences, you might be the guy whose behind, walk, smile or the way you work with your hands meets one of those. Does it really matter which preference you might meet? Is it really beneficial for you or your partnerships to get hung up on which of their preferences you feel are more important, especially when what you decide is the most important one may not be the most important to the person with the preferences? Probably not.

Should you ever come across anyone who earnestly reduces you down to nothing but one body part (or if you do it to yourself), that person is reducing you to an object, rather than treating you like a person. It's that person with a problem, and someone who does that isn't likely to have quality relationships even with people who meet their exacting and shallow aesthetic preferences. I know that sometimes it can seem like every acceptance or validation you could get from everyone is meaningful, but there really are some people whose shallow approval is meaningless or so not-about-you at all (after all, your penis is but part of you: you are not your penis) that even when you get it, it's a hollow victory, especially if and when their preference or your body changes, or when you're having interactions with them that aren't about that one part of you they happen to like.

I know the value of that logic is limited when someone we like doesn't express that a given part of us we find important meets their preference or expectation, or at those rare times when someone outright rejects or demeans us based on those preferences or expectations. Everyone feels like crud when judged or unaccepted based on something about us which is unchangeable (or even when it is, which is something intrinsic to us that we do not want to change, but just want to have accepted), be that race, gender, orientation, height or genital appearance. With areas where we're particularly hypersensitive or insecure -- particularly if those areas, as is often the case with penis image issues, are also part of our gender identity -- a lack of acceptance or excitement can seriously sting. But positive body image and self-esteem always have to start with you, and get strong through your own props, not someone else's. Otherwise, we'd always be at the whim of others' likes and dislikes when it came to how we felt about ourselves. When you accept your own body, no matter what others may or may not think of it, then you can always deal better with being outside someone's preferences and when you do meet them, it's a sweet extra boost to an already-strong self-image.

Foreskin Frustrations

Worldwide, most men are not circumcised -- have not had their foreskins surgically removed, usually at birth or in infancy. Around 70% have not been circumcised globally. It's usually easiest to tell if a penis is circumcised or not when it's flaccid: they can look pretty similar erect. An uncircumcised penis, flaccid, looks a bit like the penis is inside a snug little sleeping bag.

Circumcision is more common in men in the United States than in most other places. In the states, we have the highest number of men circumcised for non-religious reasons, mostly because of archaic masturbation panic and inaccurate ideas about health which cloaked that panic, but also because with so many circumcised men, many fathers want their sons to have penises which resemble their own and because some parents still aren't educated as to the issues. Circumcision is very common in Jewish and Muslim men, as part of religious practices or traditions, and most men worldwide who are circumcised are Jewish or Muslim. From a health perspective, circumcision is no longer advised as a default by health organizations for infants or other men, save in cases like for skin cancer which has impacted the foreskin, or severe and persistent problems with infections.

No one kind of penis is cleaner or "dirtier," or more or less real. Both circumcised and uncircumcised penises are functional: both can become erect, be engaged in sex, urinate, ejaculate, be used with condoms, play a part in reproduction. If you have one or the other among groups or communities where a given kind is more common, you might feel insecure with or embarrassed about your penis. Just understand that millions and millions of people have both kinds, so saying any one is normal and the other is not is a lot like saying black hair is normal and blonde hair is not.

Naj asks

I am a 24 y.o. uncircumcised male. The tip of my penis is very sensitive at all times. During masturbation I have to avoid the area or it hurts, and I never enjoy sex because it's always painful. I tried to desensitize the area by pulling back the foreskin during the day so that the penis rubs in my underwear but it didn't seem to help at all. What could be causing this problem?

Worried asks,

I think there is something wrong with my foreskin- it can be pulled back far enough so you can see the inside top of the penis, which is disturbing. i also thought that during sex, it would hurt a lot to put the penis in the vagina, cause it would be pulled back so much... help!?

Uncircumsized asks,

I am dating a guy who is uncircumsized. I like to play with the head during oral sex this is very painful for him. How can i please him orally with out hurting him.

The foreskin has thousands of sensory nerve endings in it. Foreskins are supposed to be able to retract -- or pull back -- over the head of the penis, and that is a normal part of the way it functions: part of why it's there is to provide friction during sexual activities for the purpose of pleasure for both a guy and his sexual partners. While it may seem weird to some, there's nothing disturbing about that function, just like there's nothing disturbing about the fact that when many men masturbate, they use their hand around the penis to create the same kind of sensation a foreskin provides in moving over and back the head like that.

Sexual activities shouldn't hurt just because you have a foreskin. But uncircumcised men may find that with all the extra nerve endings of the foreskin, they're just more sensitive, especially to certain kinds of touch, than their circumcised brothers with a lot of sexual activities. If a sexual partner of yours is new to your kind of penis, you might have to fill them in a bit, but no more or less than you'd have to tell them about what works for you with sex and doesn't in any other respect. You can also show them, with your hands, the ways that it feels good for you to be touched, and the ways that it doesn't.

Whatever your partner chooses to do should feel good to you: if it causes you pain, you've got to let them know that. Just because a partner likes to do something themselves doesn't mean that if it doesn't feel good to you, you're obliged to do what they want. Partnered sex is supposed to be about mutual pleasure, so what feels good for you is just as important as what feels good for them, and someone in pain or discomfort always trumps someone who isn't.

If you find that no matter what you or a partner are doing, movement of your foreskin is painful, then you'll want to check in with your healthcare provider to rule out or treat any infections or other medical conditions which may be causing you that pain.

Thrown a Curve

A perfectly rod-straight erection is actually less common than one with some natural, small degree of curve -- called congenital curvature -- be it to the left, to the right, up or down. Penises with some level of curve are normal and common. If it doesn't hurt when you have an erection, or curvature isn't something you seem to develop over time after never having had a curve before, then there's no reason to believe that whatever your curve is, it isn't normal and healthy. You can't bend a curved penis straight with your hands, but you don't need to. A curve in your penis that isn't physically painful with erection isn't a problem, and it's nothing you need to worry about changing.

Joe asks,

My penis bends a little down and to the left. I've had the curve for as long as I remember but I just don't know if it's normal and it's been bugging me please help. If not, is there a way to fix it?


Young men and women alike often express worry that opposite sex partners will think their genitals are weird or unusual. Just bear in mind that young people often have not seen a lot of genitals, so it's all going to be pretty new most of the time. When we haven't seen anything before, the first time we see it, we're more likely to assume something is normal than we are that it's unusual. We might also react with surprise to anything new, so it's not something to take personally if a partner does. And in the case a partner asks, you can always fill them in on what's normal and remind them that genitals really do vary a lot among people, so it's possible all the penises they see may be a lot alike, but just as possible, given the luck of the draw, that the penises they see may be different than one another.

Mo_el asks,

I am 16 and have a bent penis (almost 30 degrees). I don't feel any pain during an erection and don't have a scar. Will it be possible for me to have sex?

Vince asks,

I am a 20 year old male. I have a question about my erection. My penis in the erect state always points towards the top, in fact touching my belly and not to the front which I assume to be normal. I was never worried earlier because, my earlier relations never reached this stage. Firstly, is this normal? I am worried if my girlfriend is going to find this weird. What do I do?

Fred asks,

When erect my penis has a huge upwards curve. So much so that I cannot bend it straight, and when I bend over it pokes my bellybutton. Is this normal? Is there anyway to fix/change it?

Austin asks,

My penis curves, and I was wondering if there are certain sexual positions that may increase the pleasure for me or my partner?

John asks,

Is it unnatural that my penis is curved slightly to the left? How can this effect my life? Will it help or hurt during sex? Also how can you know what size condom to buy if you do have a curved penis?

Having some curvature doesn't mean you need a special kind of condom, either. Latex is very thin and flexible, so any kind of condom will work just as well for men with curvature as they will for men without.

Vaginas aren't straight canals themselves, nor is the rectum: they both have curves, too. As well, both of those orifices -- as well as the mouth and hands -- have good flexibility when it comes to a penis with a curve inside them. Obviously, curves in this direction or that may make some sexual positions more or less pleasureable or comfortable for you or your partner, depending on each of your preferences, so you'll just need to experiment to see what feels best for both of you. For instance, for a guy whose penis curves upwards, with a female partner during intercourse you may find that your partner likes being on top best facing you, while for one with a downward curve, she may want to face your feet instead... or not. Again, vaginas and rectums are stretchy and flexible, so you may not need to make any adaptations at all.

Severe curvature of the penis with erection that develops when you once had a straighter penis -- of more than 30-45 degrees or so (opinions vary) or to the point that erection is painful -- is usually due to what's called Peyronie's disease. That tends to be developed in adulthood, and is caused by scar tissue being over or around the tissue that covers the coprus cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum or calcium deposits (usually due to an injury). It starts with a noticeable lump that forms on the penis, and over time, causes a curve to develop. It tends to make having an erection painful, and while for some rare men with Peyronie's, any kind of intercourse can be difficult or impossible, for most, it's still doable. While it sometimes takes care of itself over time, when it doesn't, there are treatments for Peyronie's, so if you think you may have this -- though it's rare in younger men ( the average age it develops is around 55), and only occurs in 1-3 out of every 100 men -- talk to your healthcare provider.

On Being a Sensitive Guy

Like anything else, penises vary when it comes to where they're most sensitive, and men also vary not only in where their penises feel most sensitive, and with what stimulus, but even if their penis is their favorite body part when it comes to sex! For some men, it's not any part of the penis at all, but the anus or prostate gland, the perineum (some men call it the "tain't," as in, it ain't penis but it ain't anus either), the testes, the nipples, the lips, the back of your neck.

Gnrjohn asks,

I'm 17 years old male and I have tried to have sex with my girlfriend and she has given me some oral sex. The problem is that every time I'm having sex or my girlfriend gives me oral sex I can't feel nothing. I don't feel the pleasure that I should feel. Is this a serious problem? Can I do something to help it?

Matt asks,

I'm 15 and when I'm with my girlfriend and we do a lot together but there's one problem. When she's trying to give me a blow job, she pulls my foreskin back and the head and the other bit -- I don't know the name for it but the other pink sensitive bit. Most of my mates don't have a problem and they enjoy it but I'm really sensitive and it becomes painful. I don't have a problem with sex it's just blowjobs and it's very annoying.

Believe it or not, the shaft of the penis is typically one of the least sensitive parts of the body when it comes to sensory nerve endings, not the most. For most men, the shaft is usually more responsive to deeper pressure or greater friction (so if, for instance, with oral sex, a partner is being very soft in what they're doing, you may need a hand added to give you that greater pressure) than they are to fluttery, light touches or sensations, though for plenty, some details of the penis -- like the foreskin, or for cut or uncut men, corona just under the bottom of the glans, or the raphe or veins along the shaft -- may feel great when given a more taunting or gentle touch, and are far more sensitive. Sometimes, or with some kinds of stimulus, that sensitivity makes things feel like a little too much. This can happen to women, too. No matter what you find about your own sensitivity, when it comes to sexual partners, all you need to do is to communicate with them about what feels best. Because preferences and areas of sensitivity can vary so much between people, even a partner who has had a lot of other partners before you isn't going to know what to do to really rock your world unless you fill them in on what works and doesn't work for you.

If doing a certain thing hurts or feels too sensitive, just let them know, and offer suggestions as to what might feel better. If you're not feeling very much sensation in one place, suggest he or she try putting their attention somewhere else and see how that goes. If a given sexual activity doesn't feel like anything all that pleasant or interesting, you can try switching up positions or the way you and a partner are doing something, or you can just do something else altogether. Not every sexual activity is the thing for everyone, and just as it is for women, oral sex or intercourse aren't something that every man likes or finds to be a favorite all by themselves.

Don't forget: When it comes to what a given person enjoys -- not consent, health or anything else -- there are no "shoulds" with sexuality. While we all have the same basic parts, levels and areas of more or less sensitivity can still vary a lot, and sex is also about more than just what is going on anatomically. What's going on in our heads, with our sexual orientation or gender identity, in the dynamics of our relationship or a given sexual situation, if we feel comfortable or not even being sexual with someone else or alone, if we're ill or in good health and other issues all take part in what feels good and what doesn't. The goal is to find out what your sexuality and sexual response is all about, over time and through varied experience, not trying to adapt your mind or body to fit a given ideal or expectation about what's going to feel best.


I've got all my digits crossed that at least some of this spiel made at least some of you feel a little more informed and a little more comfortable. If you're still feeling like you just can't let go of big worries or fixations on your penis size or shape, I'd just remind you that like it or not, like your height or the length of your fingers, you can't usually change those things about your penis once it's done growing. They are what they are.

What you do, however, have the capacity to change is how you think about them, how much or often you think about them, and what better places you put your concerns and emotional energy. No one kind of penis miraculously leaves a guy with perfect body image, and no one kind of penis is going to equal 100% sexual satisfaction for any sex partner you have all by itself. With both body image and the satisfaction of partners, it's what you bring to the table in terms of the whole person you are, thinking about yourself as a whole person, not a sum of your parts (or as just one part), that makes the grade. Considering the extra bonus on both counts is that accepting your body as-is is far more likely to make you and everyone else a lot happier and more satisfied than obsessing on what you aren't or how to change your body, there's every reason to toss a lot of penis concerns in the rubbish where they belong, dust off your hands and move on to bigger (and I mean way bigger, not a few inches bigger) things.

written 07 Jun 2008 . updated 25 May 2014

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