Friday Weird Science: For Men, It Really IS The Size That Counts

I’m sure all men have felt…small…at some point in their lives. Perhaps they have felt…inadequate for some reason, or felt that they just did not…measure up.
sad boy.jpg
(Don’t worry guys, everyone’s been there.)
The double entendres in this paper could occupy me ALL DAY. And I want to hang their table of findings of “penile dimension” above my desk. It would make me smile. But as it is, I will post it for all of YOU! Mondaini et al. “Penile length is normal in most men seeking penile lengthening procedures.” International Journal of Impotence Research, 2002.
First of all, what IS the normal length of a penis? Sci had always heard somewhere around 6 inches, but never had any proof. But now, she’s got the official numbers.

penis length.png
For those of you unable to read the rather fine print (sorry, had to get it in frame), the table shows a summary of the last ten studies to research normal penile length in men. The years range from the first in 1899, to the most recent (2001 as of this publication, which, admittedly, is 2002). The results even include one by Kinsey of the famous Kinsey reports. Subject pools ranges from 50 to over 3000 subjects surveyed (Kinsey surveyed a whopping 2770, I think this report was done to deliberately beat out that number), and age anywhere from 17-82. Measurements were taken flaccid, stretched, and erect, and in the most recent study, measurements were also taken of circumference.
Over all surveys, the average flaccid length was around 9.3 cm (3.7 inches). Stretched length averaged 14.29 cm (5.6 inches). The length of the fully erect penis (presumably the measurement that mattered most) was 5.8 inches, pretty close to the mythical 6 inches Sci was always told about. Unfortunately, for this particular study (the most recent), results all came from a group of Italian army conscripts, so there was probably relatively little racial variation and no data were taken to measure whether all those stereotypes you hear about held any water.
Anyway, using the most recent study data, the authors of this study (conveniently, also the authors of the previous study) came up with a nomogram to illustrate the range of penile length in men.
penist length 2.png
Based on these data, the authors determined the bottom and top 2.5% of penises to be outside the normal range. This means that if you have a flaccid penis length of 12 cm (4.7 inches), you’re probably good porn star material, while if you have a flaccid penis length closer to 3.5 cm (1.4 inches) you have a ‘short penis’. That’s the medical term. Actually, I believe the medical term is “micropenis”, which is a penis which is smaller than the norm by 2.5 standard deviations.
The condition of micropenis can have several causes, such as low androgen levels, androgen insensitivity, or hypogonadism. But what about those penises that just…look small? Sometimes the penis can be thought to look smaller than normal due to being concealed in fat around the penis, or to delayed puberty, or simply to not looking proportional. And some of the men who feel that they have a short penis seek treatment for their problem. Treatments can include things like cutting the tendons under the penis, which will increase apparent length (though this means that erections will go down instead of up, which I imagine could be awkward), hormone therapy, or other surgical treatments.
But of those men who seek treatment for “short penis”, how many of them actually HAVE it? This study set out to find out. Of the 67 patients who came in for treatment of short penis, you’d think that most of them would be worried about the erect penis length. That’s what matters, right? WRONG!
It turns out that 65.7% of the men surveyed actually felt uncomfortable with the length of their flaccid penis. They recruited a bunch of men referred for complaints of “short penis”, but with no other health problems and no evidence of erectile dysfunction, aged 16-55. 32.8% felt uncomfortable with length when both flaccid and erect, and only ONE of all the men surveyed only felt uncomfortable about his erect penis. A good 22.4% also complained that their circumference didn’t measure up either, but unfortunately the study didn’t really cover that.
And so, did these poor guys have tiny penises?
penis length 3.png
You can see here the distribution of the research subjects against the “nomogram” for normal flaccid penis length. Most of the guys (62.6%) ranged in the 25-50th percentile, so maybe a little below average, but certainly not what anyone would call a teeny peen. It turned out only 5 of the subjects fell under the 5th percentile, and NONE of them qualified as having a real “short penis” in the last 2.5% of the bell curve. Interestingly, a good 9 of the patients (13.4%) actually fell in the 75th percentile and above, being exceptionally gifted in the flaccid penis measure. Unfortunately, no measurements of erect penises were done, probably because most of the men referred were only upset about the length of their flaccid penis.
One of the interesting things about this study is that the authors also asked the patients to estimate what they felt a normal flaccid penis length should be. 85% of the patients felt they could estimate normal penis length, and confidently asserted that a normal penis should be 12 cm long when flaccid. Of course, that’s the 95th percentile of ALL flaccid penises. Clearly, these guys had a distorted view of what flaccid penis length should look like.
When asked what made them think that their penises were small, most of the men (62.7%) said their problems with their penis size had occurred since childhood, when they felt they didn’t measure up to other boys (which could easily have been caused by being in a slightly different stage of development). However, a good portion of the men (37.3%) said they first felt inadequate when they were teenagers and watched porn for the first time. So clearly the gigantic penises often featured in porn videos have given more than one guy a sense of inadequacy.
Luckily, this paper has a mostly positive ending. The researchers took measurements, and then showed the men where they fell on the nomogram for penis length. When thus reassured, 71.7% of patients said they felt better, though 28.3% were still thinking about the possibility of enlargement.
So men, if you’re feeling inadequate, small and alone, check out that nomogram, and chances are you fall in the normal range. Stand proud, walk tall, and only consider surgery as a last resort. Now, if only we had a study to compare the ratio of hand and foot size to penis length. You know what they say about guys with big feet…
Mondaini, N., Ponchietti, R., Gontero, P., Muir, G., Natali, A., Caldarera, E., Biscioni, S., & Rizzo, M. (2002). Penile length is normal in most men seeking penile lengthening procedures International Journal of Impotence Research, 14 (4), 283-286 DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3900887

28 Responses

  1. I think I can hear you still giggling after writing this post!

  2. I was disappointed that the bar graphs weren’t more… graphical 🙂

  3. We want more phalluses!

  4. Stretched? What the fuck does that even mean?

  5. At what ambient temperature do they measure flaccid length?
    And quite honestly the thought of being measured, never mind stretched, by a health professional would certainly cause Little Dr. Csrster to curl up and hide himself like a snail in a stampede.

  6. At what ambient temperature do they measure flaccid length?

    Good point! Very small in cold water, very large when hot. No, not that kind of hot.

  7. This reminds me of the classic study where they asked college men to pick their ideal female body shape and then they asked college women to estimate what the guys thought. They found that the women’s estimate was much thinner than what the guys actually said, i.e. the women thought that they “ought” to be a lot thinner than the guys would have liked.
    In other words a lot of the problems we have with body shape & size are just problems with perception…

  8. Daneel: I did consider posting pictures, but then it would be REALLY NSFW. Google “micropenis” and you’ll get lots of hits I’m sure.
    csrster and Danimal: Sorry, I should have included that part of the methods. The flaccid penis was measured within 30 seconds of the guy dropping trou, deliberately done to avoid shrinkage as much as possible.
    CPP: They stretched it! I swear! Maximum length.

  9. Manhood Stretching Vs HealthyED blue pills
    I am informed that men around the world use these techniques, although the team at HealthyED has no evidence to prove any of these exercises work. That’s not to say following a stretching regime does give you extra inches. We do know for sure that our HealthyED pills containing Butea Superba do not claim to make your penis actually grow when not hard, but it does enable more blood to flow into your manhood during erection and therefore your third leg may well be bigger. We do not suggest that when you do not have a ‘bona’ HealthyED will give you extra length. Quite simply HealthyEd enables men to achieve a ‘hard on’ that is stronger and harder than previously experienced.
    So stretch your third leg or buy HealthyED? You choose.
    However, if you want to try these exercises, they are FREE and you can do so should you wish- Do not come crying to us if you have no success!
    Some basic free manhood enlargement exercises are outlined below.
    1. TOWEL STRETCH: This can be combined with other methods but is usually done separately. What this entails is getting some hot water and soaking a towel in it. Wrap the towel around your dick for a good few minutes until relaxed. This increases blood flow, helping to expand the blood vessels whilst stretching. Once done either begin jelqing or stretching. To stretch, hold the head and pull forward, then down, then left and right, repeating for up to 10 minutes.
    2. CLOCKWORK EXTENSION: Hold your manhood firmly in your fist and stretch it as far as it goes downwards, then keeping it stretched, do a complete 360, ending up back at the same point. Think of holding a bicycle wheel whilst it is spinning round and replicate this with your floppy friend.
    3. BENDING: For this technique you need a semi hard on. You then need to stretch it behind the scrotum and literally sit on it for about 5 minutes. Repeat several times, although if it hurts stop the exercise.
    It is important, as with any other workout that you don’t overdo it and remain relaxed throughout. Keep form and go steady. Don’t just pull your little man in a crazy fashion until it hurts.
    So to recap- Spend 30 minutes a day yanking yourself into oblivion or take a couple of HealthyED pillsWhen you get up each morning. The physical approach is unproven, whereas HealthyED is supported by successful clinical trials showing 84% of all men who take the herb improve their love lives. I think I will stick with

  10. Ronnie:
    Your comment is clearly spam. But I’m so incredibly amused by it that it shall remain. This goes down on record as the first time spam has made my day.

  11. A Kurt Vonnegut character had a penis “eight hundred miles long and two hundred and ten miles in diameter, but practically all of it was in the fourth dimension”.

  12. @Sci: well did they also count the last time they had ejaculated and how often they do?? I always felt it stays short if i had been masturbating..
    @Daryl McCullough: Well if assume time to be the fourth dimension and go with minkowsky’s version of space-time continuum….Damn that guy will be going on for hours….. 😀

  13. …What, no consideration of “grower” vs. “shower” status?

  14. Sci don’t you think another reader poll is in order? Of course it won’t be scientific, because people do exaggerate, and people would be self reporting. But it would make an interesting post.

  15. How were the mesaurements taken?
    From the top to where on the body?
    There can be at least an inch difference depending on where exactly the base is determined to be.
    What was used to measure – a tape measure, calipers a laser range-finder?
    Too many variables are left out to consider this science.

  16. thanks for nothing! you totally deflated me. i had a girl once exclaim “you’re so huge” during sex. but now i find out i’m just on the high side of average!
    i always suspected she got that line out of cosmo. but i had a little hope. until today. thanks for nothing, Scicurious.
    PS i laughed out loud

  17. You know what they say about guys with big feet…

    They wear big shoes?

  18. In my opinion the largest threat for California are cataclysms and ecological catastrophes. Not important is how many money we have because one tragedy can us take all.

  19. I read somewhere that there were two sorts of guys: one kind deflates completely into a little nib and one kind just hangs limp at full length. Both apparently achieve the same erect length on average. (This is supposed to explain why Poseidon’s statues feature a little nib.)
    Anyway, if that’s correct then ‘deflated length’ should be orthogonal to erect length.

  20. Hey,
    I posted about length and some of the typical stereotypes we hear everyday (and data that has been collected so far)
    There’s a lively discussion in the comments. I blog a lot about biological basis of behavior issues lately, so I think you all might like my blog.
    But anyways, don’t worry. I think it’s the motion of the ocean.

  21. Your friendly working girl again… just as many women think they are too fat regardless of whether they are “too fat”, I think a lot of men never quite feel confident in this area. My experience is that a lot of the time, penes differ in flaccid length, but once erect are mostly about the same. Average guy with an 8 cm flaccid penis might be 15 cm long erect: average 15 cm flaccid penis probably will also be 15 cm erect.
    Mr. Dong, are you taking the piss?

  22. The most amusing blog and comments thread I have ever thus far read.
    Including Mr Dick Dong – but the clear winner….
    Ronnie OSullivan …. I will be listing those exercises and ask the hospital male staff to run a clinical trial.
    I wonder if it makes a difference getting a woman to apply the 360º clockwork rotations?

  23. There’s a reason why some of us found that print too small to read, you know …

  24. Oh come on Danimal, you think people would exaggerate? Guys? Exaggerate? Never.
    I’ll start the unofficial pole, by admitting that I have size sixteen feet, if you know what I mean….
    (actually, my equipment is pretty much in the average range)

  25. Thanks, DuWayne. Some of your most avid readers have been eagerly awaiting this information.

  26. Oh, come DuWayne you must have your units wrong, wishing centimeters = feet. I’ll claim the 16 inches.

  27. micropenis on video display, purely in the interests of science.

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