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Is Bigger Better? How Men Really Feel About Their Own Penises

Advertisements for products “guaranteed” to add inches to men’s penises are everywhere, from awesomely bad late-night infomercials hosted by Ron Jeremy to annoying Internet pop-up ads for “natural male enhancement.” The sheer number of such ads and the millions of dollars men spend on penile enlargement products each year suggest that lots of guys are worried that their genitals aren’t big enough. But is “small penis syndrome” (yes, this is a real thing)1 as widespread as the popular media would lead us to believe? And does size really even matter that much to men or to women?

Actually, survey studies indicate that most gay (65%)2 and heterosexual (55%)3 men  are satisfied with the size of their own genitals. However, it should be clear from these numbers that a significant minority of men wish they could change their penis in some way. Among the men who are dissatisfied, there is an almost unanimous desire to increase penis size; fewer than 1.5% of guys wish to be smaller.

It is important to note that the dissatisfied men in these studies actually tended to have average or even above average sized penises. So it’s not just guys with below average penises who want to change—many guys who have perfectly normal genitals just aren’t happy with them, and this is the defining feature of “small penis syndrome” (it doesn’t mean you actually have a small penis—just that you think you do). A big part of the reason for this syndrome can probably be traced to pornography exposure. Porn videos frequently feature actors with gigantic schlongs having sex with incredibly attractive people, and repeated exposure to such imagery fuels an association between big penises and sexual desirability. However, most guys probably do not realize how uncommon those porn-sized penises are: scientists estimate that just 2.5% of guys have penises longer than 6.9 inches (17.5 centimeters)!3 As a result, almost any guy who tries to “measure up” to what he sees in porn is setting himself up for disappointment.

As for the other question of whether penis size really matters, the answer is yes and no. On the one hand, more endowed men tend to have a better body image,3 as well as greater life satisfaction.2 Thus, men who are larger do seem to feel better about themselves. However, some of them may feel a little too good, because men with larger penises also tend to be more narcissistic (i.e., self-obsessed).4 Also, it is important to recognize that just because you have a bigger penis does not necessarily mean you will be a better lover or will be seen as more sexually desirable by others. Just consider that, at least in heterosexual couples, most women are very satisfied with the size of their partners’ penises and only a small minority want someone larger. Thus, men’s desirability as romantic and sexual partners is clearly measured in more than inches.

The take home message for my male readers (and this is likely true regardless of your sexual orientation) is that you are probably more concerned about the size of your penis than your partner is. So stop measuring yourself against what you see in porn and quit throwing your money away on penile enlargement gimmicks that don’t work anyway (there’s no scientific evidence that they do anything they promise!). Learn to be happy and confident with your body just the way it is, because that will make you far sexier than an extra inch ever could.

To read more about both men’s and women’s body concerns, check out this article.

Interested in learning more about sex and relationships?  Click here to "like" us. Click here for other topics on the Science Of Relationships.

1Wylie, K. R., & Eardley, I. (2007). Penile size and ‘small penis syndrome.’ British Journal of Urology International, 99, 1445-1455.

2Grov, C., Parsons, J. T., & Bimbi, D. S. (2010). The association between penis size and sexual health among men who have sex with men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 788-797.

3Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., & Peplau, L. A. (2006). Does size matter? Men’s and women’s views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 7, 129–143.

4Moskowitz, D. A., Rieger, G., & Seal, D. W. (2009). Narcissism, self-evaulations, and partner preferences among men who have sex with men. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 725-728.

Dr. Justin Lehmiller - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lehmiller's research program focuses on how secrecy and stigmatization impact relationship quality and physical and psychological health. He also conducts research on commitment, sexuality, and safer-sex practices.

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Reader Comments (2)

That really does depend on the man. Big can also mean painful or "going limp faster" because the blood has a longer way to go.

The secret to a sexy relationship isn't finding the G spot where men are led to believe it is; it's really learning that the G spot is in a woman's head. So what most men need is not a penile enhancer but a communication enhancer, either intellectual or fun.

Basically I've learned that there are two types of men:

Skin Men and
Spiritual Men.

A skin man is one who thinks he's the sexiest God around. He thinks his name is Mr. Hot Penis. When he makes love to a woman, he thinks his penis is her ultimate need. This type of man can rarely make a woman feel "connected." She feels as though she is mating with a fly, regardless of the size of his penis. He is actually the worst lover around.

The spiritual man is often much sexier because he can better make women think he is after her head. He is well aware that women are often jealous of their other half down below, who I will call Gertrude. Women don't like men paying more attention to Gertrude than they to do them, so the spiritual man keeps doing and saying sweet things for/to them and letting them know all the time he's mating with them their head is more important than Gertrude. The next thing the woman knows, the whole sex act is up, and she has really enjoyed it! She may not tell him because she will be afraid of turning him into a skin man, but basically she thinks he's pretty hot.

During the same period, Mr. Hot Penis is trying everything under the sun, including sprays, perfumes, chocolate sauce, various positions, various types of sex toys, sex clothing, etc. and sweating both of his heads off like someone truly desperate. He's going to body-building clubs and so on, forever desperately doing everything to ensure he never loses his high opinion of himself and his sexual image. Rarely do partners get off with these flies.

After that the skin man goes to the bar and brags to his buddies about how many women he has laid last week, while Mr. Spiritual shuts his mouth thinking, "it's not quantity but quality. If only you knew!"

The skin man is as one of the most despicable and hated types of men on earth, as well the type labelled by most women as the most unsexy they have ever slept with, and hopefully ever would, although they will never tell him. Most women won't stay with this type for more than a month (if that long). They may like his "slight bit of power" but he's such a horrid creature to mate with. Furthermore, most of the time he can't even get it up, or even keep it up without blaming his partner either out loud or in silence, because he has read so many porno books that it would take a really rare exception to be able to give him enough penis power to do anything. The more books he reads, the more impotent he becomes. The next thing you know, he's out buying Viagra.

Many men will be fooled into thinking that this type of man is a success because he is so full of "stud mania BS" that some may secretly envy his success. Success nothing! He, as well as his partners, will be full of warts by the time he's in his 50's and that will dry up his and their sex live big time for the rest of their days, not to mention, promote cancer.

And of course, the very worst type to sleep with is the type (in either of these categories) is the man who's so anxious to "do it" that he's like a wood tick. He can't even kiss his partner without trying to drag her into bed. He's such an anxious klutz even in bed his partner feels as though his is a bull who really believes he is mating with a cow. This type accidentally pull his partner's hair, throw his weight on her elbow, hits her in the face while moving, and so on.

This type often feels rejected by women because women know exactly how to punish him and keep him in line when they get mad. He has "LET": them know VERY CLEARLY that the very best way to keep him in line is to deprive him of his "candy." The more he pouts over the loss of his candy, the more he teaches women that the withholding of candy is the perfect punishment tool, and pretty soon he finds himself deprived of candy for nearly every little thing he does that displeases her. Don't feel like an oddball if you are in this category. That's the most common type of man.

So all I can say guys, is "quit instructing your partners on the best ways to punish you;" and for Christmas, buy your wives flannel pajamas instead of hot frilly things that are really presents from you to yourself. And when it comes to bed time, don't just jump on her and then light up a cigarette afterward.. Giver her a half hour massage that will so soothe her that she will be looking forward to it and put her in a near "dumb" hypnotic sleepy trance. Then gradually slide upon her while continuing with the massage so she doesn't think you're suddenly switching over to Gertrude and are going to drop her dead.

In fact, at this point you would never have to worry about your size. She would breed with a guy who had a penis the size of a hamster at that point. She would also never punish you anymore after she realized that in so doing, she would be withholding her own reward. Not only that, but hamster penis or not, she would also see you as one of the biggest studs in the nation and would respect you and promote your success tremendously.

So there you have it, guys. Chuck out your stupid penis enhancers. Remember again that a woman's G spot is not where those books you read about tell you it is (because those books are mostly written by skin men who are "hard up," and not in the ways you define that). The G spot is really in a woman's head; and men's penises are not really where men believe them to be either, but are really on their shoulders.

July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Only "little girls" treat their men bad by, "withholding their candy" and if a man has a "grown ass woman" then he will be at home every night, but this senecio can also be reversed. A "grown ass woman" needs a "grown ass man" that is secure with himself and know how to love by being sweet, kind, sexy, amongst other things. Be real you "grown ass men" and love your "grown ass woman" the way she should be loved. Sex is about more than your dick, like duh.

Plus I think it's so funny when men ask a woman if she's cum. That lets the woman know that you don't know what your doing and why don't you so called men ask a woman what feels good to her, like it's called being a grown up. If a woman cums while a man's dick is inside her, he would not have to ask cuz he would feel her cum and that could make him cum. So men need to let go of their ego and remember that we are all human beings and learn to feel and think about somebody else besides them for a change.

March 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTina
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