I cannot count the number of men who have asked me–as if it were just some casual question that happened to occur to them at that moment–if the size of their penis was “normal.” No man has ever worried that it might be too big. This preoccupation with penis size is one of the saddest and most complicated issues I encounter as a urologist.

In fact, the variation in size among human penises is less than that for hands, fingers, or noses. Penises can be as short as one and a half inches or as long as eight inches. The number of organs that fall at the extremes are exceedingly few. The average length of a penis in its fully flaccid (relaxed, limp, normal) state is about four inches. The overwhelming majority of men fall within centimeters of that average. Penis girth varies less, ranging between one to one-and-a-half inches in diameter when flaccid.

A very tall man might have a longer penis than a short man, just as he will probably have bigger feet and hands. The difference in penis size between two such men will be far less than that of their other appendages. A short man’s hand might be three full inches shorter than that of a tall man. He might wear a size eight shoe compared to a size thirteen. But his penis might only be a fraction of an inch shorter. I have often seen penises on short men that were as big, or bigger, than those of most professional basketball players.

Of far more importance, given the concerns of most men, is the size of the erect penis. The erect penis averages about six inches in length (although most of my patients prefer the phrase “half a foot long”). More importantly, the variation in the size of the erect penis is far less than that of the flaccid penis. If one man’s penis is five inches long when soft and another’s is three inches long, that two-inch size difference is likely to shrink to near zero when they become erect. It is even possible for the smaller penis to be bigger when erect.

The range in size for erect penises is simply much less than that of flaccid penises. It is as if nature wanted humans to propagate and so made it possible for just about any man, regardless of his overall size, to mate with any woman. So, when you hear men brag that their penises are a foot long, take it with a few grains of salt. They are either rare exceptions or liars. The only technical way they are not lying is if they are adding to their measurements that portion of the penis we do not normally think about because it is inside the body. (The idea is akin to measuring a hose attached to a sink inside a house because the penis actually begins several inches deep in the pelvic cavity.)

When people ask me about the biggest penis I have ever seen, I tell them it did not belong to any of the oversized professional athletes I have examined, nor to any of the Hollywood “studs” who have come through my office. I tell them that it belonged to a short, slightly built old man who was having prostate surgery. A pleasant, mild-mannered, pious man in his eighties, this patient was married to the same woman his entire adult life. Neither of them had the slightest idea of how relatively huge the penis that had sired their nine children was. I have never had so many helpers in the operating room! Half the nurses in the building wanted to assist me just to view this magnificent organ.

Dudley S. Danoff, MD, FACS is the attending urologic surgeon and founder/president of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide To Male Sexual Health (Del Monaco Press, 2011) and Superpotency (Warner Books).

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