What’s too small? What’s too big? Research suggests that many men desire a bigger penis regardless of whether they think that their penis size is average or not. And, some men believe they have a small penis when it’s actually within the average range.

This article will look at the science behind the average penis size, how to measure your penis, and the conditions that can cause a penis to be or seem smaller than usual.

The average length of a penis is roughly 3.6 inches flaccid and 5.2 inches erect. But how did this become the number?

Research on penis size

There have been several studies over the years that have attempted to give a definite number for the average penis size.

One smaller 2014 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at the average penis size in 1,661 men. The researchers found that the average erect penis length and circumference of participants was 5.6 inches (14.15 centimeters) and 4.8 in. (12.23 cm), respectively.Herbenick D, et al. (2014). Erect penile length and circumference dimensions of 1,661 sexually active men in the United States. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12244

Another larger study from 2014 compiled data from over 15,000 men to determine average size. In this study, length and circumference measurements were taken both flaccid and erect. The results determined the average penis length to be 3.6 in. (9.16 cm) while flaccid and 5.2 in. (13.12 cm) while erect. In addition, the average penis circumference was measured as 3.7 in. (9.31 cm) while flaccid and 4.6 in. (11.66 cm) while erect.Veale D, et al. (2014). Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men. DOI: 10.1111/bju.13010

It’s important to note that the first study used self-reported measurements, while the second study used measurements taken by a health professional. Both studies have their limitations, but the numbers reported are consistent with similar studies on average penis size.


Keep in mind that sizes of “small” and “large” are comparative and that averaging penis size is based on what’s known. Known measurements, even a substantial study where more than 15,000 men were measured, are based on groups. The United Nations reported the world’s male population to be at about 3.8 billion in 2017. That means 15,000 men is only about 0.0004 percent of the world’s male population.

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Collectively, average measurements from similar studies set a good average and are important to have, but there’s always more to know.

If you’re curious about how to measure the size of your penis, here’s a correct way to get an accurate measurement:

  1. You will need to have either a tape measure or ruler on hand.
  2. To measure the length, start your measurement at the base of the penis, where the penis meets the pubic bone.
  3. Run the ruler or tape measure along the full length of the penis from the base to the tip (glans). Do not measure excess foreskin length.
  4. To measure the girth, wrap a flexible tape measure around the shaft of the penis at the base or around the midpoint between the base and head.
  5. If you are measuring your penis flaccid, be careful not to pull on or stretch it as this can potentially cause injury.

Research suggests that there are different periods of penis growth throughout the life cycle. In one study, researchers tracked penis size in more than 3,000 males from birth to 16 years old.Yi Q-J, et al. (2017). Penis growth and development in children and adolescents: a study based on GAMLSS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28774364

They found that on average, the penis grew rapidly from birth until about 1 year of age. From the ages of 1 to 11, penis growth slowed down to some extent. At about age 11 and entering puberty, the researchers observed another period of rapid growth.

Most males fall into the range of average penis size. However, some boys and men may have what is known as a micropenis. Also, not all small penises are micropenises.


Micropenis is a condition, most often diagnosed in infants, characterized by a penis that falls below the average size range. The criteria for micropenis in infants is generally a penis size of smaller than .75 in. (1.9 cm), based on the stretched penis length.

According to University of Rochester Medical Center, one of the most common complications of micropenis is lowered fertility due to a decreased sperm count.Micropenis in children. (n.d.). https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P03096

A sex hormone imbalance called hypogonadism is a leading cause of micropenis.

Although there are different treatment approaches for micropenis, hormone treatment can be key in treating babies. Early administration of testosterone may even help to increase penis size by 100 percent during the initial course of treatment for an infant.Hatipoğlu N, et al. (2013). Micropenis: Etiology, diagnosis and treatment approaches. DOI: 10.4274/Jcrpe.1135

In cases where hormone treatment doesn’t work, surgery may be an option, while speaking with mental health professional can provide more long-term benefits.

Inconspicuous penis

Inconspicuous penis is an umbrella term for any number of conditions that cause the penis to appear smaller than normal.Srinivasan AK, et al. (2011). Inconspicuous penis. DOI: 10.1100/2011/238519

The following conditions are all linked to having a smaller than usual penis size.

  • Buried penis. Buried penis is primarily caused by an excess accumulation of skin around the penis. The penis may be buried, or hidden, beneath the abdomen, scrotum, or even thigh. In most cases, the penis is a normal length and functions normally. However, this condition may cause difficulty with sexual arousal and function as well as urination.
  • Webbed penis. Webbed penis occurs when the skin of the scrotum is attached too high on the penis. This can affect the angle at which the penis rests, causing it to appear “webbed” and shorter than normal. Cosmetic surgery is a common treatment approach for this condition.
  • Trapped penis. Trapped penis can occur as the result of a circumcision not healing correctly. With a trapped penis, the scar tissue from the circumcision causes the penis to become trapped beneath the healed skin. This condition can cause serious issues with urinary dysfunction, so steroid therapy or surgery are necessary.

Many of these conditions are uncommon, affecting a small portion of the population. In all cases, however, it’s important to remember that penis size does not necessarily determine sexual attractiveness.

Penis size is only one small element in a list of items sexual partners find attractive — with emotional attractiveness being near the top. Besides, one 2006 study found that almost 85 percent of women are content with the size of their partner’s penis.Penis size. (2018). https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/penis-size/ Lever J, et al. (2006). Does size matter? Men’s and women’s views on penis size across the lifespan. DOI: 10.1037/1524-9220.7.3.129

Although many men are concerned that their penis is too small, research has shown that most men have an average-sized penis. It’s also important to remember that penises, just like vaginas, come in all different shapes and sizes. There is no one perfect penis, and penis size does not determine your sexual attractiveness or self-worth.

For those who fall outside of typical penis size range for any reason, there are interventions that can help promote a positive and fulfilling sex life. If you are still concerned with your penis size or feel that it’s affecting your sex life, reaching out to a sex therapist can help.