Dr J's Sex Facts

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dr. J’s Top 10 for Men: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

“It’s 10 Inches Long, Hard As a Rock and Can Go All Night”
Bernie Zilbergeld, Ph.D., The New Male Sexuality

Alas, I’ve been a neglectful Dr. J, but I’m back, dear readers and ready to have some fun with a list of questions I like to call the Top 10 Men’s Concerns. You read that right: for the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at an assortment of concerns drawn from actual questions I’ve received from real readers just like you. Keep in mind that this particular Top 10 list represents the most common sexual concerns expressed by men. Now, I want you all to know that the only reason I’m doing this is because you’ve been such very good readers and hardly ever misbehaved (well, except for that one time, at band camp); so after each and every question, you’ll find my answer. Oh—and really astute readers (that’s right, I mean you) will doubtless remember that at the end of this last year, we surveyed the top 10 women’s concerns. Guys, it’s your turn to shine, so read on.

What Is this Thing? Why Am I So Fascinated with It, and How Can I Make It Bigger, Better, Smarter and Straighter?

Judging from my own mail, almost every man out there seems to be convinced his penis is too small, too quick on the trigger, too “bendy” and/or just plain wrong. Sigh. Don’t you realize it’s all a big set-up, guys? Everything in our culture screams bigger is better: bigger wallets, bigger cars, bigger houses—you get the picture (not to mention the bigger HDTV picture). With all that societal input, it’s no wonder that most guys worry that their penises are somehow inadequate, so they look for a few easy answers to give them that Holy Grail of a perfect penis.
And, of course, there are hundreds of businesses out there just itching to sell them that panacea. Here’s a composite of these letters:


I’m 24 years old and my penis size is 5 inches. It’s also not straight when erect. I feel as if there is a lot to look out for when looking for these "natural male enhancement" supplements and such. Anything I should know? Any brand names you’d recommend? My biggest concern is side effects. Please help.

Dr J’s response:

Sounds like you’ve bought into the myth that you have to have a larger-than-life penis in order to have great sex. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

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 straight 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 to this attitude is that while most men see their penises several times a day during urination, they’re usually staring down at their penis, creating a visual distortion that actually makes it appear smaller than it really is.

Like noses, penises all have the same basic shape, with some variation. Let’s consider a few basic facts. For instance, did you know that you can’t tell the size of a man’s erect penis based simply 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. And 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!

Wouldn’t It Be Great If I Could Just Take a Pill…?

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” That’s what my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl. Those so-called herbal supplements for “male enhancement” (whatever THAT is) include this disclaimer on the bottle: “The products and the claims made about specific products on or through this site have not been evaluated by … or the United States Food and Drug Administration.” In other words, THEY’VE NEVER BEEN PROVEN TO WORK (not ever).

As far as I know, there is no product that can make your penis harder, bigger, stronger, last longer or taste like chocolate. And yes, some who have taken them have reported side effects (anyone up for a little rash—or perhaps some itching and burning?).

Rather than depending on a pill, why not examine what’s going on for you? Do you have expectations about sex that include some standard of “performance” that you feel you’re not meeting? If so, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Straight Talk

About penis curvature: Some penises are completely straight, some curve up, some curve down, some curve to the left and some to the right. All of these are simply physical variations—like the difference in peoples’ noses. The only time to be concerned about curvature is if your penis curves so extremely that it’s difficult to be sexual with a partner or if it causes you pain. Most of these curvatures are caused by calcification, and they usually go away with time.

Just as some women seem to associate having big breasts with being “sexy,” many men spend their lives wishing they had the allegedly perfect porn star penis, and this notion can affect their sexual enjoyment. Certainly, penises are important to sex (perhaps you’ve heard), but great sex really does involve 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. Keep in mind that thinking about your performance can be the enemy of enjoying the actual pleasure, letting go and having fun.

Here’s a thought: why not relax, value your penis for the size and shape it is, and be thoughtful about its care and handling. If you do, it will serve you well your whole life.

Next week, we’ll be back with more of our hands-on Top 10 for Men: Do It Yourself Sex: If It Feels this Good, Why Do They Say It's So Bad?

As always, the Doc is in for your questions and comments.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J