Penis size: How much does it really count?

Penis size: How much does it really count?

Many men are concerned about their penis size, particularly if they believe their penis is too small when compared to other men. This creates worry about their ability to pleasure (and keep) a partner.

We are bombarded with messages that equate a man’s power and masculinity with his penis size.  Unfortunately, the mass media targeting men promotes unnaturally super-sized penises (via pornography and popular men’s magazines). The predominant message is that a large penis means being a ‘real man’ and hence more desirable.

This message is a marketing tool that lowers men’s self-esteem and promotes products and services that feed off men’s fears and insecurities, including various gadgets, pills, and surgery to ‘enlarge your penis’.

If men believe penis size determines masculinity, they will continue to feel unnecessary sexual anxiety. The irony is that, over time, this anxiety may lead to difficulty achieving erections (creating a vicious circle of more anxiety).

It is a man’s beliefs about his penis size that cause problems, NOT his actual penis size.

Perceptions of penis size were assessed in an Internet survey of 52,031 heterosexual men and women. Two out of three men (66%) rated their penis as average, 22% as large, and 12% as small.

85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size but only 55% of men were satisfied with their penis size (45% wanted to be larger, and 0.2% wanted to be smaller).

Men tend to report their penis is larger than it actually is. When measured under laboratory conditions, penis size (both flaccid and erect) was found to be smaller than reported.

Penis size varies a lot, both in thickness and length. The average penis is approximately 8.9 centimetres (3.5 inches) long when flaccid and 13.5 centimetres (5.3 inches) long when erect.  However, most men fall in the following range:

The typical length of an adult flaccid penis = 7.6 – 13.0 cm (3 – 5 inches) in length
The typical girth of an adult flaccid penis    = 8.5 – 10.5 cm (3.3 – 4 inches) circumference

The typical length of an adult erect penis = 12.7 – 17.7 cm (5 – 7 inches) in length
The typical girth of an adult erect penis  = 11.3 – 13.0 cm (4.5 – 5 inches) circumference

Erect penis length
Studies show men fall into the following ranges:

Erect Length (cms) Erect Length (inches) Percentage of men
under 9.4 cm under 3.7 inches 2.5%
9.7 cm to 11.4 cm 3.8 to 4.5 inches 13.5%
11.7 cm to 15.2 cm 4.6 to 6.0 inches 68%
15.5 cm and 17.3 cm 6.1 to 6.8 inches 13.5%
Over 17.5 cm over 6.9 inches 2.5%

Women are less interested in penis size than men.

If they are interested, a man’s girth (thickness) is more important than his length, particularly for women who have not adequately exercised their pelvic floor muscles after childbirth.

Fortunately, mother nature has designed us all perfectly. The genital variety in men perfectly matches the genital variety in women. For every man or woman there are plenty of potential partners who are a perfect fit. Better still, women are designed to adapt to whatever size they’re presented with. So size doesn’t really matter.

If you are a man who’s concerned about penis size, stop worrying how big it looks and start focusing on how you use it (and every other part of your body).  Most women value having a confident, creative and skillful lover more than a big penis.



Lever J, Frederick DA & Peplau LA (2006) Does size matter? Men’s and women’s views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 7(3), 129-143.

Sengezer M, Ozturk S & Deveci M (2002) Accurate method for determining functional penile length in Turkish young men. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 48, 381–385.

Vardi Y, Harshai Y, Gil T & Gruenwald I (2008) A Critical Analysis of Penile Enhancement Procedures for Patients with Normal Penile Size: Surgical Techniques, Success, and Complications, European Urology, 54, 1042–1050.

Wessells H, Lue TF, & McAninch JW (1996) Penile length in the flaccid and erect states: Guidelines for penile augmentation. Journal of Urology, 156, 995–997.

Premature Ejaculation: How to last longer in bed

The term Premature Ejaculation means different things to different people. Broadly speaking, it refers to a man ejaculating before he is ready or his partner is ready, with minimal sexual stimulation, and usually before or within a few minutes of vaginal penetration.

Only if it causes distress is it considered a problem.

Premature Ejaculation (or PE) is widely believed to be the most common sexual problem experienced by men, affecting about 20-30% of men at one time or another, and is very common with younger men in particular.

Some evolutionary theorists speculate that quick ejaculation evolved in our cave man era so that men could reduce the chances of being attacked by a predator while copulating. That’s efficiency!

Many meanings

It is important to understand that early ejaculation can have many different meanings, effects and consequences for the man and his partner. For example, many men with Premature ejaculation worry that they are letting their partners down, when in fact their partners are not bothered by it. So it is important to explore what it means for each partner.

Some men experience premature ejaculation only occasionally, while others live with it their whole lives. Premature Ejaculation can run in families: 91% of men with lifelong PE have an immediate male relative with lifelong PE. 

However, all is not lost. Most men who ejaculate too quickly can learn to extend their arousal to last longer and increase sexual pleasure for themselves and their partner.

Ejaculation normally results when sufficient physical and/or mental stimulation is present. Ejaculation is a spinal reflex, controlled by the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. A reflex is something that happens automatically without you having to think about it (such as heartbeat, breathing, and pupil dilation).

Ejaculation is usually accompanied by orgasm, which is what makes it a pleasurable sensation, however ejaculation can also occur without orgasm, and vice versa.

You can learn to slow it down

differing libidos

A man cannot force himself to ejaculate, just as a woman cannot force herself to reach orgasm.

However, men can learn to delay ejaculation by maintaining sexual stimulation below their critical threshold (ie. below the ‘point of no return’).

Learning where this ‘point of no return’ is and learning how to back off before reaching it is the key to delaying ejaculation.

Stress contributes a great deal

The sympathetic nervous system (that controls ejaculation) is also activated when we experience stress. So a man who is regularly anxious or stressed is more likely to experience premature ejaculation. Stress can also take the form of over-excitability. Young men especially can experience premature ejaculation due to getting over-excited.

Learning relaxation and breathing techniques to control stress and excitement levels can be a big help in extending lovemaking.

In my practice, I’ve seen many men with high powered or stressful lives who experience premature ejaculation. Doing things ‘quickly’ has become a habit, in all arenas of life. While this habit may serve its purpose in work situations, it’s not so useful in intimate lovemaking.

Fortunately all habits can be changed if there is sufficient motivation to change.

love relationship counsellingng

Here’s a list of health and lifestyle issues that can contribute to Premature Ejaculation:

Physical health:

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Endocrine problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Prostate infections

Drugs, Alcohol & Pharmaceuticals:

  • Drug use, such as heroin and cocaine
  • Reliance on alcohol to dull sensation
  • Some prescription medications, such as tranquilizers

Mental health:

  • Anxiety disorders & depression
  • Anger, frustration
  • Poor self-image
  • Poor self confidence
  • Stressful events (divorce, death, financial or work-related)

Relationship issues:

  • Power struggles
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Demanding partner
  • Unrealistic expectations

Premature Ejaculation is primarily a learned behaviour. While many sufferers of PE often seek medical solutions, there is no magic pill for unhelpful habits.

As with any sexual challenge, it’s quite common for both partners to be contributing in some way to a pattern of premature ejaculation.  Consequently, sex therapists generally prefer to see both partners, since changing both people’s bad habits leads to the best outcomes.

What can you do?

If you would like to overcome your premature ejaculation and recreate a healthy and happy sex life again, come and talk with our Sex Therapist or Relationship Psychologists.

Enneagram relationship counselling

He/ she will explore what factors are contributing to your problem and give you strategiesthat will help.

Phone 1300 830 552 to enquire or make an appointment.

To Check which of our Psychologists are closest to you, please use our Find our Psychologist Search box on the right hand side of the page, or phone us on 1300830552 for more details and help.

Alison Rahn, Sex Therapist © Copyright 2012


Hertlein KM, Weeks G, & Gambescia N (Editors) (2008) Systemic Sex Therapy; Routledge

Leiblum SR (Editor) (2006) Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy; Guilford Publications, Inc.

Rathus S, Nevid J & Fichner-Rathus l (Editors) (2005) Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity, 6th edition, Boston : Pearson Allyn and Bacon

Waldinger MD, Hengeveld MW, Zwinderman AH, & Olivier B (1998) An empirical operationalization study of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for premature ejaculation, International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, 2:4, 287-293