Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/22/2021
It's likely the case that almost every man has some strong feelings in regards to his penis.
Whether he's been shown studies about average penis size, read articles about whether "penis size matters" or is just convinced from years of pornography that sexual satisfaction is inherently tied to larger penises, the average man likely has some ideas in his head about how big he is in comparison to everyone else.
At this point, it's a cultural norm to assume there's a perfect penis size, or at least a minimum limit to meet for your sexual partners to give them the "ideal penis" experience. Like a “You Must Be This Tall to Ride” sign, standing ominous and menacing overhead.
This age-old question isn't going anywhere. In fact, penis preference has likely even taken on a more important place in the confidence of men than it occupies for the women asked to rate penis sizes in the first place.
Let's get to the point: whether you're measuring out of fear, or wishing that you had a larger penis or you’re just curious about what specific penis size women have rated the "best," every guy wants to know how he stacks up.
Well, it’s not so simple.
Before we dig into the ol’ meat and potatoes, we want to take just a second to remind everyone: there’s no real “normal.”
But we do get it. As a Harvard Medical School article explained, penis size has long been a preoccupation of men and boys—a concern from adolescence on.
That article (which you should read) is by a father, writing of his son’s concerns about inadequacy.
Maybe it’s relatable to you: the worry about whether “it” is big enough and satisfying enough to help you secure love, approval or whatever else you may associate with penis size.
And that’s a shame, because truth be told, most people believe — as you’ll soon read — the average size is far bigger than it actually is.
Millions of people likely search for this exact information every day. What if we told you the number was nine inches? (Quick spoiler: it’s not — no need for a panic attack, fellas.)
Are there women out there who think nine inches is the perfect penis size? We wince just thinking about it, but maybe.
And are there plenty of women out there who would *gulp* cut that nine inches in half and say that’s ideal? Sure.
The thing you need to remember is that, regardless of what you read on the internet, penis size preference is a highly individualized and subjective question.
If you have a long-term partner that you’re self-conscious about pleasing, their answer is far more important than any survey or study.
Why then do men worry so much? Well, it has to do with false perceptions.
For instance, a 2021 review found that most men believe the average penis length falls somewhere above six inches, when in fact, that information comes from self-reported studies that weren’t in keeping with other measuring methodologies.
The review in question, instead, pointed to a collection of 21 (non-self-reported) previous studies that found the average stretched penis length is 5.11 inches, and the average erect penis is between 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches.
This review was important, because it connected these false perceptions about “normal” to a growing interest in men considering penile lengthening surgery; most men seeking surgery have normal-sized penises.
A 2015 study, meanwhile, asked women to determine their ideal preferred size based on 3D models. What the study found may have been a bit surprising: women don’t just have one preference.
Women were found to prefer an erect penis size of about 6.4 inches in length and five inches in circumference for one-time partners, but for long-term relationships, the number actually shrank (sorry for the word choice) a bit to 6.3 inches and 4.8 inches in circumference.
This study was apparently working off of the self-reported averages, because it concluded that women “prefer” penises only slightly larger than average.
Here’s something else we found interesting: a 2017 study tried to determine the ideal penis size by looking at the bestselling “realistic dildos” on Amazon, and compared those results with other online retailers and a brick and mortar store’s bestsellers in San Francisco.
They found that the average length was about 6.5 inches, with a girth that was about five inches.
So are men under six inches outta luck without surgery? Well, not so fast.
Women’s preferences for penis size in the first study may have been determined mathematically, but penis size preference isn’t the only factor to be considered.
Take, for example, a 2001 study of the preferences of 50 undergraduate women. The study asked women whether size made a difference in satisfaction, and whether length or width was more important.
Forty-five out of the 50 reported that width was the most important characteristic, with just five reporting length — and none of them not having an opinion.
What we’re getting at here is that, even with raw data, a lot of these numbers don’t tell you much.
Self-reported information is frequently flawed because (as every guy knows) there are plenty of ways to measure a penis — and most of them are wrong.
Try as we might, we couldn’t find the National Institutes of Health’s “Great Guide To Accurate Penis Measuring” book anywhere. Drats!
And between the relatively small study sizes, the wide range of preferences established in these studies and the lack of big-picture thinking about what satisfying sex really is, we think it’s safe to say that even if you’re coming up a bit “short” (ugh, sorry — the puns keep writing themselves), there’re not a lot of reasons to focus on the size of your dick as the sole measurement of your partner’s pleasure.
A review published by the International Journal of Impotence Research found that while many studies (including a few mentioned above) have attempted to create a measurement system, there has been insufficient attention given to creating a common system for measuring, or to creating a comprehensive framework for contextualizing the data.
This study looked at data from decades and decades of other studies, and the biggest conclusion they came to in our opinion is that no two people likely have the exact same rubric for how to measure.
Measuring flaccid penises as opposed to the erect penis makes no difference—it’s all hypothetical until you’re with a real partner with real preferences.
So, if your penis length doesn’t really matter, what should you focus on? Maybe the metric is how long your sex is lasting.
This is also a complicated question to answer—partners may finish at different times, or need different stimulation to achieve orgasm.
Let’s go to the numbers again: a study found that typical intercourse sessions last between three and 13 minutes.
The study’s conclusions determined that the ideal number is between seven and 13 minutes, while 10 to 30 minutes is mostly too long.
They believed that three to 10 minutes is “adequate,” and while these numbers are again subjective, that does give everyone a barometer from which to start with new partners.
If you’re having trouble getting over the three-minute or seven-minute mark, you may be dealing with premature ejaculation, which is considered one of the most common sexual dysfunction conditions affecting men (the other, you can probably guess, is erectile dysfunction).
There are factors associated with premature ejaculation you should watch out for: prostate issues, hormone level imbalances and/or serotonin issues may be contributing factors in your penile performance.
Another might be seeking medication; studies have shown that antidepressant SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can successfully improve PE problems over time.
Hims offers one such treatment, sertraline, for premature ejaculation.
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, talk to a healthcare professional and get them addressed for your health, and your sexual happiness.
Pleasure isn’t necessarily relative, but it’s about more than measurements and hitting an average.
Your partner may have difficulty with penetrative sex, or they may prefer other ways of enjoying intimacy with you. If you’re on the larger side, they may even avoid penetrative sex because you’re too big.
Yeah, that’s a thing, too.
The point, we hope, isn’t a literal dick measuring contest, but to make the person you love feel good. How you do that, then, has more to do with techniques, and with your performance.
If you’re struggling to perform, part of that may be accepting your body and your penis the way they are. Part of the equation may also be taking better care of both of them with diet and exercise habits that will improve your performance.
Feelings of inadequacy can lead directly to psychologically induced performance anxiety, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
If you’re suffering from performance anxiety, you should have a conversation with your partner about it, and consider talking with a mental health professional.
Get back to enjoying the sex you can have. And put down the ruler.