Size May Not Matter, but Obsessing Over it Can
You've probably heard someone say, "It's not about the size of the boat. It's about the motion of the ocean." People have talked in depth for years about what they find important in a sexual partner, and for most women, a very large penis may not be the most important male trait. In a 2014 survey, 84 percent of women reported they were completely satisfied with the size of their partner's penis. Other studies, including one about men who have sex with men, indicate that a large percentage of men wish they had a larger penis. So just why are guys so obsessed with their size?
The answer likely has to do with how we perceive masculinity and attractiveness, the influence of porn and other media, and a constant barrage of advertisements that claim to enhance the size of a man's penis. It hasn't always been this way, either. In ancient Greece, for example, men with large penises were mocked as being barbaric and vulgar—a sign of stupidity compared to the cultured, small-penised social elite. It's why statues from that era often show men with flaccid penises far below the average length.
What is the average size anyway?
The average length of an erect penis is just more than 5 inches with a girth of 4.6 inches, based on a British Journal of Urology International study pooling data from 15,521 men. Flaccid, the average length is around 3.6 inches with a similar girth. Men with micropenises—those with a stretched length of 3.66 inches or less—are scarce, so most men who believe their penis is too small tend to fall within the "average" range.
Still, only 55 percent of men say they're satisfied with the size of their penis, and the rest worry that their penis is too small or they wish it was bigger. In extreme cases, this mindset can present itself as a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) known as penile dysmorphic disorder (PDD).
What does it mean to have body dysmorphic disorder?
BDD is a mental health issue that causes individuals to fixate on a flaw or perceived flaw with their physical appearance, usually something minor that others wouldn't notice. The fixation turns to obsession and can lead to embarrassment, shame and anxiety, making social interactions an immense challenge.
PDD is a specific form of BDD that refers to men whose principal perceived flaw and source of distress is the size of their penis. Some men may be anxious about the size of their penis and not suffer from PDD, however. The distinction is made when the anxiety becomes so intense that it affects other aspects of life, leading to depression, low self-esteem and a lack of sexual or interpersonal relationships.
How can PDD affect your sex life?
Men who have PDD, also known as "small penis syndrome," have extreme difficulty presenting their bodies to sexual partners, and are often overwhelmed with a form of social anxiety that can lead to further issues in the bedroom. They are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) brought on by anxiety and stress, an issue that only compounds itself and leads to further performance anxiety, sometimes resulting in the avoidance of sex altogether. And although PDD affects a man's perceptions of his body, it does not affect his libido.
One study showed that most men who seek penis enlargement surgery have a pretty standard penis length. Some experts suggest that much of this anxiety and obsession over self-image is due to pornography and unrealistic expectations of sex. Some men who had penile enlargement surgery reported higher self-esteem afterward. However, these types of surgeries are often unnecessary, especially when other methods such as healthy dieting, regular exercise, weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption and abstinence from smoking can also help show improvements in penile appearance.
At the end of the day, PDD and BDD are mental health disorders. If you find that you're obsessively concerned over penis size or appearance and it's affecting your day-to-day living, seek guidance from a licensed mental health expert and work out a treatment plan to manage your anxiety.