Does penis size matter? And – do women care about size anyway? Those are  questions many a man has agonized over. He wonders how his penis sizes up to others, and whether or not his partners will find his phallus pleasing. We looked at some studies to see if their fretting was justified.

Is Bigger Really Better? Let’s Look at Penis History.

While we now live in a society that puts a premium on large penises, culture has not always celebrated the bigger phallus as being superior. In fact, in Ancient Greece, the ‘ideal man’ had a small penis. The reason for this preference was the association of a small penis with moderation (a key trait associated with masculinity). Being a wise public servant was considered more virtuous than being a lustful lover with a large member.

There are some reports that the Romans found large penises to be grotesque and went so far as to make fun of men for being well-endowed. By the time of the Renaissance, small penises were still in vogue, but the way in which testicles were displayed had changed. Men were now being depicted with large scrotums, which were seen as desirable because they suggested great potency and masculinity.

Preference for larger penises began to emerge with the invention of photography and video. Early digital images were of low resolution, and men with large penises were the preferred subjects. Mostly, because for this medium, their members were easier to see through the pixelation. This trend set a precedent for the industry and has persisted over time, to the point where it is now an expectation, especially in the porn industry.

The Penis in Times of Porn

The point of this history lesson is to say that penis size requirements are largely a socio-cultural phenomenon – and not one driven by female preference. In modern Western culture, the size of a man’s penis is often seen to be a symbol of his sexual prowess. Countless cultural messages that equate masculinity with penis size reinforce this idea.

When a man watches porn, he is likely to see a woman expressing an exaggerated sexual response to a man with a large penis. This can lead him to believe that women derive more sexual satisfaction from and prefer men with large penises. Persistent exposure to porn has also been demonstrated to cause men to overestimate the average penis size – while simultaneously underestimating the size of their own penis.

Dissatisfaction over penis size and feeling inadequate has spawned an entire industry of scams, trying to con men into buying products that enhance penis size. Such products range from pills to weight systems to vacuum pumps and stretching devices. Some men even choose to undergo penile enlargement surgery to enhance their manhood. But who is all of this really being done for?

Do Women Care About Size?

So do women *really* care about penis size? According to research, the vast majority of women aren’t concerned. According to a 2006 study by UCLA researchers84% of women reported being satisfied with their partner’s penis size. However only 55% of the men in the study were satisfied with their penis size.

When the men and women in the study were asked to rate the size of their own or their partner’s penis, the results were surprising. According to women, 6% were small, 67% average, and 27% large. The male view was quite different: 12% were small, 66% average, and 22% had a large penis. This data shows us the gender difference between female and male perception of penis size, and that men hold their penises to higher size standards than women do.

When both groups were asked whether they were satisfied with their or their partner’s penis size, only 15% of women said they were dissatisfied. In contrast, a whopping 45% of men said they were dissatisfied. Yet again, this shows how men are much harder on themselves in regards to size, and how penis size isn’t significantly important to women. The vast majority of women are perfectly content with the penis size of their partner!

Does Penis Size Affect Arousal?

One cleverly designed experiment published in the Journal of Sex Research came to a similar conclusion as the previous study. This experiment, entitled The Bigger the Better? Arousal and Attributional Responses to Erotic Stimuli That Depict Different Size Penises, looked at how penis size affects psychological arousal. They had participants read erotic passages – which varied only in the length of the penis the male protagonist was said to possess.

The passages participants were assigned to read described the protagonist as having a small penis (3″ long), a medium penis (5″ long), a large penis (8″ long), or penis size was not mentioned (control group). The researchers found the study subjects did not report greater or lesser arousal in response to any variance in penis size. In other words – penis size wasn’t a statistically significant psychological arouser.

What is an Average or “Normal” Penis Size?

One of the contributing factors to men feeling inadequate is their unrealistic assumptions about what “normal” is. Most heterosexual men are only exposed to erect penises in the context of porn, which is obviously not a representative group.

A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine about Erect Penile Length and Circumference Dimensions of 1,661 Sexually Active Men in the United States collected what is, up to this point, probably the most accurate data we have on the diversity of penis length and girth.

For the study, men were instructed on how to properly measure their penis size in order to be matched to a condom of the appropriate size. Due to the fact that the parent study was testing for a new condom, men had the incentive to accurately report their size. The results of the study found the average American male to have a penis length of about 5.57 inches and a girth of 4.81 inches. The penis sizes reported by participants ranged from 1.57 inches to 10.24 inches, while girth ranged from 1.18 inches to 7.48 inches. Like all body parts, penises come in all shapes and sizes.

Is Penis Size Important for Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction?

Over the years, research on sexual satisfaction has suggested that factors such as affection, connection, and intimacy are significantly more important players than genital size. Does this mean that everyone feels that way? No, of course not.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, it is hypothesized that a  small group of women prefer men with long penises to facilitate deeper penetration. This  allows these women to orgasm during intercourse – likely from stimulation of the cervix or possibly the G Spot. However, women who are able to orgasm with no direct clitoral stimulation are in the minority.

In addition, some women are able to have mind-blowing orgasms during intercourse when they are with men who have small penises. In this case, the penis is able to directly press on their G spot, which is located at different depths in the vagina for each woman. Having a small penis does not preclude a man from being able to please a woman. How two partners fit together physically matters a lot more than just sheer penis size.

There will always be some people who prefer very large penises. And there will also be people who have a thing for smaller penises. At the end of the day, the important part is that you and your partner are satisfied with your sex life.

How a Sex Coach Can Help

If you are concerned about the size of your penis and are feeling a lack of confidence as a result, you could benefit greatly from working with a sex coach. Nothing is more helpful to your sense of confidence than knowing that you can be an amazing lover. Luckily, these are learnable skills.

For example, a Somatica Sex and Relationship Coach can help you learn experientially how to seduce and arouse women. Your Somatica coach can teach you a broad repertoire of skills, have you practice them, and give you guidance and feedback. This way, you can go out in the dating world – or continue your relationship – with a strong sense of your abilities as a lover.

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Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman, MA is the Co-Creator of the Somatica® Method and Co-Founder of Somatica® Institute. She trains coaches in the Somatica® Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching. She has her own private practice in San Francisco, where she works with clients to have profoundly pleasurable and fulfilling lives. She has co-authored multiple academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is the co-author of two books, Cockfidence - The Definitive Guide to Being the Man You Want to Be and Driving Women Wild and Making Love Real - The Intelligent Couples Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion. Celeste has her MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University (SFSU) and her BA in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Celeste has taken the Hakomi Pro-Skills Training as well as multiple other trainings on sexuality and relationships. Celeste also has a Certification in Sexological Bodywork from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).