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The idea of “normal” haunts a lot of men—especially when it comes to your penis. The fear that we’re not “normal” prevents a lot of guys from talking to friends, family, partners, and even their healthcare provider about completely treatable or even preventable health issues like erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation, painful sex, and even depression. We’re here to tell you that a “normal” penis isn’t a thing. “Healthy” is all you should care about.
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.
How big is the average penis?
The good news first. Statistically speaking, you have a normal penis. Huzzah! No, really. Your penis is most likely within normal ranges. A 2015 study of over 15,521 men found that the average penis size of an erect penis is 5.16 inches (13.12 cm) (Veale, 2015). The average circumference (aka “girth”) is 3.66 inches (9.31 cm).
As with every bell curve, there are people who lie at the extremes on both ends, but it’s important not to be embarrassed or hide where you fall on the “normal” penis spectrum. Everyone is different, and that’s awesome. What’s really interesting about this average penis size is how many penises fall within the “normal” range.
According to pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey of the Kinsey Institute, extremely large penises are “exceedingly rare.” 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 claims.
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 American Psychological Association study asked a simple question: Does size matter? (Lever, 2006) 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. Another study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that men who were “satisfied” or “highly” satisfied with their penis size and shape were 10% more likely to be sexually active (Gaither, 2016).
Confidence is sexy, and penetration isn’t even the most reliable way for your partner to have an orgasm. 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, you’re probably the only person on Earth that cares about the size of your penis—even if you have a “small” penis.
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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 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 be beneficial for some positions, depending on your partner. If it’s true that the g-spot and the prostate require direct stimulation to achieve orgasm, a curved penis may be more helpful than a straight shaft.
“The penis is designed to glide efficiently in and out of a fairly pliant lubricated canal. It’s very efficient in terms of easing entry, and the result is a male climax and ejaculation,” says Reitano. “However, from the recipient’s perspective, the friction created, while pleasurable, isn’t focused on the point most responsive to sexual stimulation in biological females. That area is the clitoris, which actually runs along the anterior or front wall of the vagina all the way back to the pelvis. An upwardly and 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.” 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. According to the American Urological Association, your healthcare provider can potentially treat penis curvature with an injectable medication known as Xiaflex in patients who are stable (Peyronie’s has active and stable phases). However, the degree of curvature isn’t the only thing to worry about.
Progression of the curve of the penis and subjective pain and discomfort are important factors. Any pain during sex or urination—as well as any discomfort during an erection—should be reported to a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any pain, performance issues, or even body image issues if you feel like you’re not normal. The first step to living a healthier life is having a better conversation about all aspects of your health. Even your penis.
How firm is a normal erection?
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 to help get a sense of how one defines “erect.” It’s not a perfect measure, but it is simple enough to use and brings up good points about the difference between being hard and being hard enough for penetration.
For a more comprehensive assessment tool, look into the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). 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 to help.
The strength and frequency of your erection are actually super important. The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than arteries and veins in other parts of the body, so any problems like blockages, blood vessel dilation issues, or hormone imbalances will sometimes show up as erectile dysfunction before something more serious like a heart attack or stroke.
Men typically have five erections every night. Regular erections—including daily morning erections—are an important overall indicator of a man’s health.
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, and a healthcare provider should be consulted right away.
Is my penis normal? (Yes)
The large 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. Talk to your healthcare provider about any pain, performance issues, or even body image issues if you feel like you’re not normal. The first step to living a healthier life is having a better conversation about all aspects of your health. Even your penis.