The Red-Light District

Exploring the carnal and taboo

Does Size Matter?

Men worry more about their reproductive organs than their female partners do.

Many American men are hopelessly preoccupied with penis size. We invest so much of our psychic energy in a part of our body that rarely sees the light of day. (Unless, of course, you're an erotic entertainer or a commercial sex worker.)

"Businesspeople" have realized that many men hang their insecurities on penis size, and these opportunists do their best to exploit such insecurities for a quick buck, or, more accurately, millions in consistent revenue streams. Even the most reputable publications, like the Los Angeles Times, run seedy advertisements soliciting readers to plunk down thousands on penis enlargement surgery (phalloplasty if you want to get specific). Such enlargement surgeries are not only questionably effective but can be dangerous. Furthermore, large penises are nearly ubiquitous in the world of porn.

But talking (and writing about) penis size is fun. That's why I present you, dear readers, with this blog posting.

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According to two studies, men who either self-stimulated or took medication (like Viagra or Cialis) to become erect, had an average penis size of 5.3 inches. (In studies where men self-reported penis size, average penis size was longer at 6 inches.) Other researchers found that men who were taller and thinner had longer penises than men who were shorter and heavier.

In 2006, researchers at UCLA published a paper titled "Does Size Matter? Men's and Women's Views on Penis Size Across the Lifespan." To its credit, their study is the first large-scale (no pun intended) research endeavor to examine the "association among men's self-reported penis size, penis size satisfaction, personal characteristics and body image."

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Here are some results from the 2006 study:

• 66% of men in the study thought their penis size was "average." One in 10 men thought their penis was "small."
• 85% of women surveyed said their partner's penis size was "average" or "large" and were satisfied with its length. Of the 15% who said that their partner's penis was small, the vast majority wished their partner had a larger penis.
• 45% of the men surveyed wished they had a larger penis. To put this percentage in perspective, 38% of men surveyed were dissatisfied with their height, and 41% surveyed were dissatisfied with their weight.
• Of the men who were dissatisfied with their penis length, most of these men were dissatisfied with their bodies and faces, too. Additionally, most of these men felt uncomfortable exposing their bodies to sexual partners. These results suggest that these men's dissatisfaction with penis size is correlated with body image dissatisfaction. (Although correlation was statistically significant, causation wasn't proven. In other words, it's unclear whether men were dissatisfied with their body and face because they thought their penis was small or the converse.)
• Dissatisfaction with penis size diminishes only slightly as men age.

It should be noted that although this study was admirable, it did have its limitations. Chief among them, penis size was self-reported and never measured, and it's a fact that many men misrepresent the size of their "little warriors." (For example, whenever anybody asks me how large my penis is, I ask them if they have a yardstick.) Other limitations include that this study only asked about the erect, not flaccid, penises and didn't ask about penis girth. (Some studies suggest that women are more concerned with girth than length--no doubt, good news for some men.)

I like this study because it suggests that men are much more concerned about their penis size than their women partners are. Most men have nothing to worry about. For most men, insecurity about penis size is imagined. Men (and fewer women) forget that it's not the size of the penis that's important, it's the heart and mind that's connected to the penis.

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Copyright (C) 2011

Naveed Saleh, M.D., M.S., attained a medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine and a master's degree in science journalism from Texas A&M.

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