The Myth of the Typical Penis
It’s an age-old question: Does size matter? Whether it does or does not, most men worry about their penis: how it compares to other men’s and whether it will be judged by a partner. Shaft length, girth, testicle size, perkiness—do they measure up?
But men should not worry about comparisons: There’s really no such thing as a typical penis for comparison’s sake.
Why men worry
Fixation on penis size is a deeply ingrained concept and dates back probably as far as humankind does. Ancient cave drawings around the globe, some tens of thousands of years old, depict men with exaggerated members.
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud may have been correct that penis envy is real, but it’s not women who are fixated: it’s men envious of their peers.
Obsession with penis size starts during childhood in many cultures, and it can take a significant toll on mental health, causing men to struggle with self-confidence and body acceptance. Anxiety over penis size can cause problems with erectile dysfunction and performance, especially when men associate penis size with power and being worthy of respect.
But what are these men comparing themselves to?
The average penis
Most men are surprised to hear that the average penis in the United States is 5.57 inches long when it’s erect, according to a 2013 study. In 2015, the British Journal of Urology International published a report that analyzed 17 different studies of penis size; the report found an average penis size of 3.6 inches flaccid and 5.16 inches erect. Bear in mind that the U.S. data was based on self-reporting—perhaps many guys were a little generous—so the average flaccid and erect sizes in the United States are likely closer to the numbers reported by the British journal. As for penis circumference, the self-reported average by men in the U.S. was 4.81 inches when erect.
Are these numbers less than you expected? Perhaps that’s because you were comparing yourself to an “average” guy who doesn’t exist. And in case you spend a lot of time looking at porn—News Flash!—those guys are not average.
Differences among men
Length, both flaccid and erect, and circumference aren’t the only aspects that differ from person to person. Penises come in different shapes: C-shaped, curved upward or downward, straight, narrow base with a larger head, and large base with a narrower head. Some guys have a smaller-than-average length but average or above-average girth, while others are longer but less thick than average.
Penises also differ in skin tone, prominence of veins, and presence or absence of foreskin. Some even have freckles! Some guys are “growers,” some guys are “showers.”
It’s all normal and it’s all good.
The ideal penis
All this talk of size and what’s normal—does it even matter? Does size matter?
Well, what partners find ideal in a penis depends on a few factors. A 2015 study from the University of California and University of New Mexico reported that women considered the ideal erect penis for their partner to be 6.3 inches in length and 4.8 inches in girth. (Reliable statistics for the viewpoint of gay men don’t seem to be available.)
By the way, yes, there can be such a thing as too big. Some partners may love it; some may not. Any partner you ever have will be a unique person with his or her own preferences.
Find confidence in what you have
Whatever you have, you have for good, because—surprise!—none of the penis-enhancement products you see advertised late at night actually work.
Chances are good that your penis brings you pleasure no matter its size, and hopefully you’re able to share that pleasure with someone who likes your penis as much as you do. And that’s really all that matters.
So stop worrying so much, and definitely stop comparing yourself to an “average” or “ideal” penis that doesn’t exist. Make peace with what you have and enjoy it. Your partners will, too.