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Not nearly as big as many people think it is!

A 2020 review of research on penis size found that the average length of an erect penis is between 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches. Factoring in volunteer bias, the researchers believe that the average falls closer to the lower end of that range.

Older research pegged the average length of a flaccid penis at 3.61 inches.

Keep reading for answers to all your questions about penis size, like whether size matters to a partner and what you can do about it.

Let’s start with some interesting numbers:

  • When it comes to girth, the average is 3.66 for a flaccid penis and 4.59 inches for an erect penis.
  • Around 85 percent of people with penises overestimate what the average penis size actually is.
  • Many people with penises are under the impression that the average package is over 6 inches long — a notion that researchers partially attribute to studies that were based on self-reported measurements.
  • Based on various reports, 45 percent of people with penises wish they had a larger penis, including those who have average-sized ones.
  • For some perspective, an erect penis of 6.3 inches falls into the 95 percentile, meaning that only 5 out of 100 people would have a penis longer than 6.3 inches.
  • Likewise, an erect penis of 3.94 inches is in the 5 percentile, meaning that only 5 out of 100 would have a penis shorter than 3.94 inches.
  • Around 95 percent of penises do fall into the average range.

So to recap, research says the average penis size is a lot smaller than what most people believe it is and usually looks nothing like what you see in porn.

How to measure your penis size

If you want to measure your penis, the length is measured from the top to the tip.

The top of your penis is where it meets your pubic bone, and the tip is the very end of the glans, aka the head.

To get the most accurate measurement, compress any fat in front of your pubic bone. Also, don’t include any extra length from your foreskin. If you want to measure girth, measure around the base or middle of your shaft.

When it comes to sex, penis size really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect desirability, function, or health.

A penis doesn’t need to be big to have sex, pee, or reproduce. Size only matters as much as you let it.

Worrying about having a smaller-than-average penis can drain your confidence and affect your ability to enjoy sex. Furthermore, stress and anxiety can make it more difficult to get an erection or climax.

Psychological factors, like stress, are common causes of erectile dysfunction.

You can, but most of the methods available only offer a temporary, marginal increase in size. Beware of miracle methods advertised online, like pills and oils, that can do more harm than good to your penis and your pocketbook.

The following are some of the more popular penis enlargement methods available:

  • Penis pumps. Penis pumps are devices that use suction to draw blood into the penis, engorging the blood vessels in your penis so it gets — temporarily — harder and bigger. Putting on a cock ring can help the blood remain in your penis longer. Both are typically considered safe when used correctly.
  • Traction devices. Penile traction devices are most useful for correcting curvatures and deformities of the penis, but they may provide a small, temporary increase in size. A 2010 review and 2011 study found that extended daily use resulted in a small increase in length.
  • Stretching exercises. Stretching exercises, like jelqing, use massage to manipulate the tissues and skin of the penis. This creates micro tears, that when healed, look engorged and make the penis bigger and thicker. Most of the “evidence” on these techniques is anecdotal. There’s no science-backed evidence to say for sure if they work or not.

Surgery and hormone treatments are the only options that can achieve a permanent increase in size.

Unless you have a diagnosable condition or your penis measures less than 1.5 inches flaccid or 3 inches erect, most clinicians won’t recommend penis enlargement treatment.

If you’re interested in exploring penis enlargement, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional first. Most options haven’t been scientifically proven to work, and each one carries the risk of potentially serious complications.

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Illustration by Alyssa Kiefer

Most of the research into partner penis preference is older and focuses on “females,” which can include cisgender women — people assigned female at birth and identify as such — or people with vulvas, regardless of how they identify.

According to this research, most prefer partners with average to slightly-above-average penises. That goes for one night stands and long-term relationships.

FYI, research also shows that most are satisfied with their partner’s penis size.

There’s even less research available on the penis size preferences of cisgender men and other penis-having folks who have sex with other penis owners.

While we can’t say what size they prefer, research does indicate that penis owners who have sex with other penis owners have a more accurate view of penis size than those who have sex with vulva owners.

Penis size also influences the position taken during penetrative sex. Those who consider their penis smaller-than-average are more likely to be the receptive partner while those who consider themselves larger-than-average are more likely to take on the penetrative role.

Confidence plays a bigger role with satisfaction in and out of the bedroom.

If you’re unhappy with your body — below the belt or otherwise — these tips can help improve your body image:

  • Work on not comparing yourself to others, including your friends and people in the media.
  • If you want to boost your sexual confidence, learn to work with what you have by experimenting with positions for bigger or smaller-than-average penises.
  • Get regular movement to help boost confidence and stamina, as well as reduce stress levels.
  • Practice positive self-talk by replacing negative thoughts about yourself with things you like about yourself.
  • Connect with a mental health professional who has experience with body image concerns. Body image is complex and not something you need to deal with alone. There are different therapies that can help.

Penises come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to size, the majority of them fall into the average range — and the size has no bearing on what it can do or the pleasure you can give and get from it.

If the research doesn’t provide the affirmation you need, consider talking with a doctor or other healthcare professional about your concerns.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.