Dr J's Sex Facts

Fun sex facts and accurate information from a clinical sexologist for a hotter and more fulfilling sex life.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

What’s All that Stuff Down There and What Does It Do?

Part 1: The Penile Code

“Man consists of two parts, his mind and his body, only the body has more fun.”
Woody Allen

This begins a three-part series, starting with body issues and continuing with sexual response. This week’s posting is for men and for those who love them.

Our society does a terrible disservice to men by raising them to think that their penis has to be 10 inches long, hard as a rock and last all night. It’s no wonder that many men feel insecure about their penis. Locker room etiquette dictates no staring, so most men have only glimpsed other penis sizes and shapes in commercial sex videos, which generally feature men with large penises. If you think everyone else looks like a male porn star, of course you’re going to feel inadequate!

Another contributing factor is that while most men see their penises several times a day while urinating, they’re usually staring down at their penis, creating a visual distortion that makes it appear smaller than it actually is.

Just as some women associate being “sexy” with having big breasts, many men spend their lives wishing they had the allegedly perfect porn star penis, and this can affect their sexual enjoyment. Certainly, penises are important to sex, but great sex involves your whole body; in fact, having great, mutually satisfying sex is usually quite the opposite of what you see in those performance-oriented sex videos. Remember: Performance can be the enemy of pleasure and fun.

Like noses, penises all have the same basic shape, with some variation. Did you know that you can’t tell the size of a man’s erect penis based on what it looks like when flaccid (un-erect)? Most penises erect to between 4 and 6 inches, and there’s not much variation in erection size (with exceptions, of course). However, when flaccid, there is much more variation. Some men’s penises are 1 inch when flaccid (we’ll call these growers), and others are 5 inches (we’ll call these show-ers). BUT: during erection, the 1-inch penis may grow to the same 6-inch erect size as the 5-incher. That’s right; despite their differences when flaccid, they’ll both erect to approximately the same size. Why don’t most of us realize this? Because most of us just don’t get the opportunity to see men when they’re flaccid and then erect. Did I mention shrinkage? When men are cold or nervous, the penis and testicles pull up into the body for protection (I’m hiding!). If you see a penis right after it’s been in a cold swimming pool, I guarantee it will not resemble its erect self in any way!

Some men worry about the curvature of their penis. Penises come in all shapes and when erect, may curve to the left or to the right; they may curve up or down; some may not curve at all. This is not an issue unless the curvature is so extreme that it makes sexual activity painful.

About circumcision: This is a cultural and aesthetic custom. Whatever your penis looks like, the important thing is how it feels to you. If you’re uncircumcised, be sure to clean under the foreskin regularly so that dead cells, dried sweat, etc. don’t build up, causing a cheesy substance called smegma which can also provide an environment conducive to bacteria and viruses. And if you are circumcised, you should wash your penis just as thoroughly using a mild soap. Remember, a clean penis is a happy penis!

Finally: Many men expect to have the penis and the sexual desire and capacity of a 16-year-old for their entire lives. Teenage sex is touted as the ideal. What a set-up for disappointment! The sensuous experiences you’ll have as a 40-year-old will be no less enjoyable. Your body will change, and if you pay attention to its messages, honor it and take care of it, it will serve you well throughout your life. Love what you have and enjoy it.

In two weeks, we’ll discuss what happens to your body during sexual response, and answer such questions as: Why can’t I urinate when I have an erection? What is “pre-cum”? Why is my penis ticklish after orgasm?

The Doctor is in for questions and comments. Just click on the comment button below. And remember, you can post anonymously or create a cool new web name for yourself.

Next Week: Part 2: All about Vulvas: For Women and Those Who Love Them

Two Weeks:
Part 3: Male and Female Sexual Response: How Everything Works and Why It’s Important

With Pleasure,

Dr. J


  • At 9:18 AM, Anonymous A Fan said…

    I really wish I'd known all this stuff when I was a teenager. I would have been so much more confident! Thanks Dr J

  • At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Sexy Sixty said…

    Wouldn't having anxiety about size only serve to make it that much smaller when it counts? I've never understood that about men.
    Looking forward to the next post.

  • At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Dr. J said…

    Fan: Thanks for the feedback. In my perfect world, all teenagers would have this information. Dr. J

  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Dr. J said…

    Sex Sixty: Anxiety definitely contributes to both men's and women's sexual concerns. But for some, it's hard to turn off that nagging voice in your head. Next week, we'll talk about all the messages women get that contribute to their discomfort. Dr. J


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