What’s Normal?

Most men do not think rationally about penis size.

  • Research has shown that men do not have a clear idea of the size of their own penis. Looked at from above, it appears shorter than it really is.
  • Men do not have a clear idea of what average is.

According to the Kinsey Institute, many American men mistakenly think the average erect penis is 25 cm (almost 10 inches) long, and worry that they do not measure up. Here are the results of three surveys.

Firstly, the University of California researchers measured the penises of 80 normal men and published their results in the Journal of Urology in 1996 (156;3:995–997). They found that:

  • without an erection (limp), the average length was 8.8 cm (just under 3.5 inches)
  • the average flaccid (limp) penis could be stretched to 12.4 cm (about 4.75 inches)
  • the average length when erect was 12.9 cm (just over 5 inches).

Of the men studied, many had penises that were larger or smaller than the average. They also found that the length of the penis when limp does not predict the size when erect – smaller penises expand more when erect. So, the researchers found the average erect penis to be about 13 cm long, regardless of whether it is 5 cm or 10 cm long when it is limp.

Secondly, in 2001, the condom manufacturer Durex asked men visiting its website to take part in a penis size survey, and just under 3000 men responded. They measured themselves and reported the results to the website. The average erect length was 16.3 cm (6.4 inches), and the average circumference (measured round the penis at its widest point) was 13.3 cm (5.2 inches). It is difficult to know how reliable these measurements are – there might have been some wishful thinking involved. The survey also showed that a long penis is not usually thick. Durex says, “While the ‘mythical’ well-endowed man with a very long and very wide penis does exist, there are not that many of them about.”

Thirdly, a survey of research has revealed that the average length of a flaccid penis was 9.16 cm, the average length of a flaccid stretched penis was 13.24 cm, and the average length of an erect penis was 13.12 cm. The average flaccid circumference was 9.31 cm, and the average erect circumference was 11.66 cm (British Journal of Urology International 2015;115:978–986).

Shoe Size and Penis Size

It is a myth that men with large feet have larger penises; researchers have found no correlation (British Journal of Urology International 2002;90:586–587).

Lose a Paunch

If you are carrying a few excess pounds on your abdomen, the first part (called the root) of your penis will be buried in the fat. This makes it look shorter than it really is. Losing weight will make the penis grow!

Injections to Make the Penis Thicker

Fat injections. The shaft of the penis can be made thicker by injecting fat under the skin of the penis. The fat will have been removed by liposuction from another part of the body, usually the thigh or abdomen. The glans (the tip of the penis) stays the same size, and so it may look a bit out of proportion. The fat tends to be absorbed by the body, so the injections have to be repeated two or three times a year. The fat may sometimes form unsightly nodules, and there can be puckering of the skin and scarring.

Silicone injections should be avoided. According to a scientific report, they can cause ‘horrendous’ complications (various unpleasant reactions, distortion of the penis, loss of sensation, impotence) (European Urology 2008;54:1042–1050).

Hyaluronic acid gel injections are a newer technique. This substance is used in cosmetic surgery to reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles. A recent study has shown that injection of hyaluronic acid and another substance, polylactic acid, led to significant augmentation and increased satisfaction (Journal of Clinical Medicine 2020;9:1024).

‘Dermal grafting’. Strips of skin and underlying fat are removed from beneath the buttocks; the upper layer of skin is taken off and the rest of the tissue is implanted along the shaft of the penis under the skin. The problem is that scar tissue may form, which may actually shorten the penis or make it curve.

Surgery to Make the Penis Longer

Penis enlargement surgery has been hyped by spam advertising. 70% of men who have it are dissatisfied with the result because they are expecting an unrealistic result (European Urology 2006;49:729–743). Most men expect the penis to be 5-6 cm longer than is actually possible after the operation.

During the operation the ligaments that attach the penis to the pubic bone are cut. This makes the penis hang down further when it is limp. The average increase in length is only about 1.3 cm (half an inch), although it will be slightly longer if the surgeon inserts a silicone spacer close to the pubic bone. The size of your erection will not be increased. Also, because it no longer has the support of the ligaments, the erect penis will not point as high as before.

The operation can be risky, because important nerves that carry sensation can be damaged and infection or bleeding can also occur, and unsightly scarring is common. If you are considering this operation, make sure that you find a reputable surgeon (look at the section on cosmetic surgery). This may be difficult, because not many surgeons are willing to do this operation, because of the problems associated with it.

A safer approach is to have a ‘suprapubic lipectomy’ to remove fat from the lower abdomen above the root of the penis. This makes the whole length of the penis more visible. Some surgeons do this as part of a penis enlargement operation, to enhance the visual effect.


First published on: embarrassingproblems.com
Reviewed and edited by: Matt Brewer
Last updated: May 2021

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