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The idea of “normal” haunts a lot of men—especially when it comes to their penis. The fear that they’re not normal prevents a lot of guys from speaking to their partners or even their healthcare provider about completely treatable or even preventable health issues like erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation.
We’re here to tell you that you probably have a perfectly normal penis—by definition, most men do.
But since you’re still reading, we can see you want numbers. So here’s a full rundown of what qualifies as a “normal” penis length, girth, curvature, and even normal firmness and frequency of erections.
Do I have a normal penis?
The short answer: Yes. The vast majority of men fall well within “normal ranges” for penis length, girth, curvature, and firmness. But even if you don’t, your penis size doesn’t have to stop you from having an active and rewarding sex life.
What does a normal penis look like?
“Normal” isn’t a great word to describe the penis. Just like other body parts like noses, breasts, or lips, penises can look different and these differences are largely biological. However, the good news is that statistically speaking, you have a normal penis. Huzzah! No, really. Your penis is most likely within the normal range. A 2015 study of over 15,521 men found that the average length of an erect penis is 5.16 inches (13.12 cm). The average circumference (aka “girth”) is 3.66 inches (9.31 cm).
As with any bell curve, there are people who stand at the extremes on both ends, but know that no matter where you fall on the spectrum, everyone is different, and that’s not a bad thing.
While most of what we once thought we knew about penis size is thanks to the work of pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey of the Kinsey Institute, his findings may have planted some pretty twisted standards into our psyche. His questionable studies established the average penis size as landing over six inches when hard. But more carefully designed studies later knocked over an inch off that measurement. And even though a lot of myths and stereotypes link penis size to race, hand size, and even shoe size, there just aren’t enough credible studies to back up any of these claims.
What does a healthy penis look like?
Most men would probably agree that it is important to have a healthy penis, and size and shape are secondary. But what does a healthy penis look like?
Just like healthy skin covering the rest of your body, a healthy penis doesn’t have warts, pustules, eczema, or abnormal discharge. If you notice any of these things on or around your penis, tell your healthcare provider. In general, any sudden change in the appearance of the penis may signal an issue such as a sexually transmitted infection that requires medical attention.
Does penis size really matter?
However those numbers make you feel, it’s important to note that there are a lot of other factors that contribute to being “good at sex” than just penis size.
A 2006 study published by the American Psychological Association asked a simple question: Does size matter? They found that, while only 55% of men felt “satisfied” with the size of their penis, a whopping 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis. And confidence can go a long way. Another study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that men who were satisfied with their penis size and shape were 10% more likely to be sexually active.
In other words, if you’re feeling self-conscious about the size of your penis, you probably don’t need to be. Confidence is sexy, so cut yourself some slack when it comes to your penis.
If you’re really concerned with the size of your penis, grooming can help your penis look bigger. You can also try a number of specific sexual positions—like doggy style and “side saddle”—that men with smaller penises can use to achieve maximum penetration with their partner. And remember, penetration isn’t even the most reliable way for your partner to have an orgasm.
In all likelihood, you’re probably the only person on Earth that cares about the size of your penis—even if your penis comes in on the “small” side.
How to measure your penis
It’s good to know how to properly measure your penis, and it’s also a good idea to be honest with yourself while doing it. While it can be tempting to cheat and add an extra inch, knowing your correct size can be important when choosing the right condoms.
Measuring your penis correctly is simple:
- Start on the top side of your penis (the side of the penis facing up towards you when you look down). That’s because the top side of your penis has has a clear stopping point—the pubic bone, which makes it a more reliable measurement.
- Put the end of your ruler or measuring tape at the base of the penis, right up against the pubic bone (where the penis meets the body). Be sure to push past any excess fat or pubic hair so the ruler is right up against the bone
- Measure in a straight line from the pubic bone to the tip of the penis.
Are curved penises normal?
Some penises curve left, others right. Still, others curve up or down, and some are straight as an arrow. It’s totally normal for your penis to have even a moderate curve. And it turns out, a curved penis might even be a sexual advantage.
According to Dr. Michael Reitano, MD, a curved penis can even be a sexual advantage for some positions, depending on your partner. A curved penis may be more helpful for direct stimulation to the g-spot and prostate than a straight shaft.
“A slightly curved penis allows it to move efficiently in and out of the vagina while focusing the tip of the penis on the sensitive area of the front wall, where the clitoris is,” says Reitano.
For biological males having receptive sex, a curved penis can stimulate the prostate, which can be highly pleasurable.
However, other more extreme penis curvatures can make sex painful or even dangerous.
If your penis bends at more than a 30° angle, you should talk with your healthcare provider. That’s a characteristic of severe Peyronie’s disease (the buildup of fibrous penile scar tissue), which can increase your chances of injuring or even breaking your penis. Luckily, there are treatments available. A healthcare provider can treat certain cases of penis curvature with an injectable medication known as Xiaflex. Combination treatment with vitamin E and a drug called colchicine is also an option.
However, the degree of curvature isn’t the only thing to worry about. Progression of the curve of the penis and pain, discomfort, and urinary symptoms (like difficulty peeing or pain when peeing) are important factors. Any pain during sex or urination—as well as any discomfort with an erection—is a reason to make an appointment with a urologist as soon as possible
What’s a normal erect penis?
Erectile dysfunction is about more than just the ability to get hard, although that’s certainly a big part of it.
Healthcare providers use the Erectile Hardness Scale or the IIEF (International Index of Erectile Function) to help get a sense of how one defines “erect.” These assessment tools can help a provider understand if you’re a candidate for treatment.
If you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection, tell your healthcare provider. Erectile dysfunction is relatively common (even in younger guys), and there are a number of options that can help.
The strength and frequency of your erections are actually important indicators of your underlying health. For some people, the first sign of heart disease is actually trouble getting or staying hard. ED can also be a sign of things like blood vessel problems, hormonal imbalances, or other conditions.
If you are getting erections, great! There’s no need to be concerned about being “too hard,” as your body only has so much blood to offer. However, an erection that lasts too long (generally considered more than four hours) is referred to as priapism. If you’re erect for too long, the tissue in your penis isn’t getting fresh blood, which can cause tissue damage.
An erection lasting over four hours is considered a medical emergency, requiring immediate medical attention.
What options are there for enlargement?
If you’ve seen ads promising to make your penis bigger, your best bet is to steer clear. Injections like Juvederm, which are used for cosmetic facial procedures, have been used by some medical professionals to increase girth, but they’re not approved for this use, and there have been reports of permanent tissue damage down there as a result. Penis implants are typically reserved for people who have trouble getting erections due to hormonal or neurological issues and aren’t effective for making your already-hard member larger. Penis pumps and other vacuum devices likely won’t have much of an effect and may cause damage.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any pain, performance issues, or even body image issues if you feel dissatisfied with your penis. The first step to living a healthier life is having open conversations with your provider about all aspects of your health—even your penis.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.