Sexual Health

Top 5 Embarrassing Penis Questions Answered by a Doctor

Author:

Zoe Miller, BSc, MD, MBChB
on
May 23, 2024
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Take-home points
  • Many men are self-conscious about their penis – whether that’s size, shape, or what they can do with it.
  • Most women are happy with their partner’s penis.
  • Counselling is an effective first step for many men who are self-conscious about their penis size or have erectile dysfunction.

Setting the record straight

As a doctor who’s worked in Urology Surgery, I’ve seen it all when it comes to men’s private parts. Lots of men worry about their penis, and with so much misinformation out there, I wanted to set the record straight on a few things.

In this article, I’ll discuss some of the most common penis-related questions that men want answered.

Is my penis normal sized?

It’s pretty normal for men and boys to worry about penis size, especially when society links being well endowed to masculinity. In fact, a recent survey found up to 45% of men think they’ve got a small penis.1

A 2015 study found that the average UK penis is 9.16 cm when flaccid and 13.12 cm when erect.2 But what if your penis is smaller than average? And does penis size actually matter?

Men may wonder if they’re “big enough” to please their partner sexually or compare themselves to other men around them. Interestingly, most men are worrying unnecessarily: up to 85% of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis size.3 Some of our cultural obsession with penis size seems to come from pornography, where much of the focus is on size. It’s important to remember, porn doesn’t represent “normal” sex or even “normal” people.

So, if you find yourself asking “Am I big enough?”, you might want to ask yourself “Big enough for what?”. Sexual pleasure isn’t related to penis size, and based on the data,3 your partner is happy with you as you are.

How can I make my penis bigger?

As I mentioned earlier, lots of men are worried about their penis size – up to 45% in fact.1 So much so that their self-esteem, sex life, and confidence can be affected. This has led to a rise in penis-enlargement devices, exercises, medications, and even surgeries. However, there’s very little evidence to suggest non-surgical methods work, and lots of men who’ve had surgery aren’t happy with the results.

Exercises
  • Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor are often suggested as a way to make your penis bigger. While they might help you maintain an erection for longer, they’re not going to increase the size of your penis.4
Medication
  • When it comes to pills, the only medication with evidence behind it is erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra. Again, this won’t make your penis bigger, but may increase blood flow, making it more engorged. Viagra is only licensed to treat erectile dysfunction, and not for men looking to increase their penis size.
Devices
  • Penis lengthening devices include pumps and traction devices. Generally, these are applied to the penis when flaccid, left for some time, removed, and then the process is repeated over several months.

Some men find that these devices work for them, but they can be painful and cause scarring, erectile dysfunction, and other side effects.5 We need more evidence on these devices before we can say how effective they are, but these treatments are NOT recommended by the NHS for cosmetic reasons.

Surgery
  • Commonly known as penoplasty, there are a few types of penis enlargement surgery, including lengthening and girth-increasing surgeries. Some men also trying having filler injected into their penis as away to increase the size.

Lengthening surgery involves cutting one of the ligaments attached to the penis, making it look bigger when flaccid (but not when erect). Girth-increasing surgery uses fat from other parts of the body, or implants, to increase the girth of the penis. This is different to penile implant surgery, which is for men with severe erectile dysfunction.

As with any surgery, there are risks of scarring and infection, as well as erectile dysfunction. One study found that while some men did end up with larger penises, there were lots of complications.6 It’s recommended that men undergo counselling before considering surgery. In fact, the same study found that most men who had therapy ended up happy with their penis and decided against surgery.6

Cosmetic penis surgery is not recommended by the NHS (except in very particular circumstances), and private procedures are not well regulated. If you’re concerned that you have an abnormally small penis, known as a “micro penis”, this may be caused by a genetic condition called Kallman syndrome. If you’re worried, make an appointment with your GP.

Is a curved penis normal?

Around 20% of men have a curved penis, so it’s fairly common.7 It’s not an issue unless it causes pain or issues during sex. Some men are born with a curved penis, and some develop it later in life. Where it develops later, it’s often caused by Peyronie’s disease.

If the curve in your penis is causing issues, there are various options to treat it, including vacuum pumps and other traction devices, medication to break down scar tissues, and surgery to remove scar tissues or insert an implant.

How long should I last in bed?

Sex lasts a different amount of time for everyone, and there’s not much research in this area. One study in 2020 found that it takes just over 13 minutes, on average, for a woman to orgasm during sex.8 Another study of American and Canadian sex therapists found that sex lasting less than 2 minutes was classed as “too short” but lasting more than 10 minutes was “too long”.9 It seems no one can agree.

The simple answer is “long enough for you both to be satisfied”, which varies dramatically from person to person. Communicate with your partner. Discuss what you both like and don’t like, and what you want to get out of the sexual encounter. If one or both of you would like things to last longer, focus on foreplay, and consider adding toys or condoms that reduce the sensation for you. If you or your partner wants things to finish up more quickly, toys and extra lube can help, as can pre-stimulation (or some alone time).

Everyone is different, and so is everyone’s idea on how long sex should last. Duration of sex isn’t a measure of how pleasurable it is, either.

Why can’t I get an erection?

As men get older, it’s common to have issues with getting and maintaining an erection – known as erectile dysfunction. Medical and psychological factors are involved, some of which are treatable and even reversible. But erectile dysfunction doesn’t just affect older men. Younger men can also struggle with getting an erection, which can be distressing.  While it’s more commonly psychological, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition.10

It’s important to see a healthcare professional to get a full assessment. They’ll be able to rule out (or treat)any health issues and can advise you on the treatments available. Medications like Viagra can be really effective, and for men who still struggle there are options like injections, vacuum devices, and even implants.

References
  1.  King’s College London. Penis size shaming is still too normalised. It’s time to talk about it.
  2. Wise J. BMJ. 2015Mar;350(15):1193–3.
  3. MentalHelp.net. An AnxietyDisorder: Small Penis Syndrome.
  4. TENA Men. Pelvic FloorExercises For Men
  5. Romero-Otero J et al. BJU international. 2021;127(3):269–91.
  6. Marra G et al. SexualMedicine Reviews. 2019; 8(1):158-180.
  7. Chung E et al. BJU international. 2018;122 Suppl 5:42–9.
  8. Bhat GS et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2020;17(4):749–60.
  9. Corty EW et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2008;5(5):1251.
  10. Rastrelli G et al. Translational Andrology and Urology.2017;6(1):79–90. 

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