Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/17/2022
At one point or another, just about every guy has wondered whether their penis is big enough to satisfy their partner.
Sound familiar? It’s far from uncommon to sometimes feel a little worried or insecure about your penis size, even if you’re perfectly normal.
Whether you’ve been shown studies about the average penis size, read articles about whether “penis size matters” or just feel convinced from years of pornography that sexual satisfaction is inherently linked to a larger penis, this rabbit hole is easy to fall down.
At this point, it's almost a cultural norm to assume that there's a perfect penis size, or at least a minimum limit you’ll need to meet to give your partner the "ideal penis size" experience.
Sometimes, this could feel kind of like one of those “you must be this tall to ride” signs, standing ominous and menacing overhead.
The reality is that most size-related concerns aren’t worth worrying about, at least if you’re close to the average penis size for men. This is because research overwhelmingly shows that women tend to prefer a penis that’s close to the six-inch mark, or around the average size.
Below, we’ve dug into the research to explain what most women report preferring when it comes to penis size and shape, as well as why there’s no such thing as a “perfect penis size.”
We’ve also shared a few options that you might want to consider if you’re concerned about your sexual performance and ability to satisfy your partner, including evidence-based medications for common issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE).
Before we dig into the ol’ meat and potatoes of this issue, we think it’s important to quickly take a second to remind everyone: there’s no real “normal” when it comes to penis size.
But we do understand the concern. As this Harvard Medical School article explains, penis size has long been a preoccupation of men and boys — a concern that generally develops at some point in adolescence and often continues throughout adulthood.
That article (which is definitely worth reaching) is written by a father, covering his son’s concerns about physical inadequacy.
It touches on worries that seemingly every guy has dealt with at one time in life or another — that their penis might not quite stack up next to the competition.
Thanks to mass media and porn, it’s easy to assume that a big penis measures in at eight, nine or even 10 inches. However, research suggests that the average penis size isn’t as big as most people think, meaning you might be above average without realizing it.
In a review published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2021, researchers looked into the findings from 10 studies that measured the length of men’s erect penises and 21 studies that measured men’s stretched penises.
They found that the average erect penis length was somewhere between 5.1 and 5.5 inches — a far cry from what many people expect. They also stated that because of reporting bias, the real average is probably on the lower end of this range.
In other words, if your penis is longer than 5.5 inches when it’s erect, you’re on the large side of average. So yes, according to a large volume of research, six inches is more than enough when it comes to penis size.
Of course, there’s much more to penis size than just the average. What matters more, for most guys, is making sure that their penis is large enough to satisfy their partner.
What do girls consider big? What’s the penis size women report preferring the most? Put simply, do women think the average penis is enough to deliver satisfying sex, or are they looking for, on average, something a little bigger?
Just like we have high-quality scientific data on the average penis size, we also have access to a surprising amount of research about women’s perceptions of penis size, as well as the “ideal size” they’d prefer in a partner.
In a study published in the journal PLoS One in 2015, researchers used a variety of 3D models to survey women on their preferred penis size.
Interestingly, the study found that women appear to prefer a slightly smaller penis in a long-term than for a short-term relationship.
On average, the women were found to report preferring an erect penis size of around 6.4 inches in length and five inches in circumference for one-time partners.
For long-term relationships, the women reported preferring a slightly smaller average erect size, at 6.3 inches in length and 4.8 inches in circumference.
One vital thing to keep in mind is that, regardless of what you may read about online, penis size preference is a very individualized, subjective question.
Averages are averages, meaning they represent the preference of most women. However, there are plenty of outliers, meaning some women may prefer a penis that’s smaller than the average, while others might prefer larger sizes.
These findings generally match up with other research into what women prefer in terms of penis size, including analyses of popular sex toys purchased by women.
For example, a 2017 study looked at the average size of sex toys purchased from adult retailers and Amazon.com.
This study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, concluded that the average length of sex toys purchased online was 16.7cm ± 1.6 cm, or 6.57 inches — about one standard deviation longer than the average male penis size reported in research.
The average circumference, of 12.7cm, or five inches, was around the same as the typical penis girth for adult men.
In other words, women’s preferred size in sex toys typically matches what they report looking for in terms of penis preference in a short-term relationship or long-term partner.
So, are men under six inches out of luck when it comes to finding love, at least without surgery or another form of treatment to increase penis size? Not so fast.
Penis size is one of many factors that women look for in a sexual partner, and although it might play some role in promoting a healthy sexual relationship, it’s definitely not the only thing that’s important.
In fact, research generally suggests that penis length isn’t even that important when it comes to having pleasurable sex.
For example, a 2001 study published in the journal BMC Women’s Health asked undergraduate women students to report which was more important to them for achieving sexual satisfaction — penis length or penis width.
An overwhelming majority of the female students (45 out of 50) reported that penis width was a more important factor, with just five reporting that length was most important.
What we’re getting at here is that women’s preferences for penis size aren’t always in sync with what popular media reports.
We’re also getting at the reality that penis size isn’t the be-all and end-all of enjoyable sex. Good sex involves a lot of factors, from sexual stamina to an emotional connection, and a larger penis size doesn’t always appear close to the top of the list.
We’ve discussed this in more detail further down the page. For now, just try to think of penis size as one of several factors that all go toward contributing to pleasurable sexual intercourse, not a single thing that makes sex enjoyable or unpleasant.
So, since you can’t increase your penis size — at least not without expensive surgery that comes with a serious risk of complications — what can you do to improve the physical sensations of sex and ensure both you and your partner have more satisfying sex together?
One way to make sex more pleasurable is to work on lasting longer in bed by avoiding common problems like premature ejaculation.
Just like whether or not an average-sized penis is best, how long sex should last is also a topic that’s very much subject to interpretation. Partners may finish at totally different times, or prefer a different level of stimulation to achieve orgasm.
According to a survey of sex therapists, sex that lasts for seven to 13 minutes is usually thought of as the most satisfying. However, the average sex session usually lasts for between three and 13 minutes.
If you, like most guys, don’t naturally have a massive penis, working on your sexual stamina so that you can last for at least seven minutes can be a simple way to make sex more pleasurable for your partner.
Our guide to lasting longer in bed shares techniques that you can use to do this, from taking a break from movement as you begin to feel orgasm approaching to applying topical medication to your penis before sex.
You may also benefit from using prescription medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — a class of antidepressants that are linked to improved sexual stamina.
As we mentioned above, one way to improve your sexual experience and enjoy better sex with your partner is to treat issues such as premature ejaculation and improve your stamina.
This can go a long way toward improving your sexual experience, but it’s definitely not the only thing that you can do to improve sex with your partner.
Other things that you can do for better, more satisfying sex include:
Treating erectile dysfunction. If you find it difficult to stay fully hard during sex, it could affect the size of your erection. Consider trying an ED medication such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) to stay harder when you feel sexually aroused.
Staying physically active. Improving your physical stamina not only lets you have sex for longer — it can also improve blood flow to your penis, which is critical for getting and staying hard.
Communicating with your partner. If you feel concerned that you don’t have the ideal penis size for your partner, talk to them about your worries. You might find that they feel totally happy about your penis and don’t want you to feel uncomfortable or anxious.
Our guide to having better sex lists other tips and techniques that you can use to enhance your sexual performance, improve your body image and worry less about your penis size.
What size penis do women prefer? This age-old question doesn’t have a totally exact, scientific answer, but most research suggests that a penis of just over six inches is generally regarded as ideal, or at least close to it, by most women.
If your penis measures below the average girth or length, or if you simply have an average size penis, don’t panic. Satisfying sex is about more than just your measurements, and being a little below the ideal penis size isn’t that big of a deal for a large percentage of women.
More than anything else, satisfying sex is about understanding your partner and what they enjoy — something that’s far more dependent on healthy communication and a strong connection than having an appealing penis size.
If your penis size is affecting your confidence or causing mental health concerns, it’s best to talk to a mental health provider.
You can also access evidence-based erectile dysfunction medications online, which can help to improve your sexual performance and improve confidence if you’re one of the tens of millions of adult men in the United States affected by ED.
Beyond therapy and medication, you can also use the techniques mentioned above to improve your confidence in bed, increase your sexual stamina and enjoy better, more satisfying sex with your partner.
In other words, you can ease your worries about penis size, but down the ruler, and get back to enjoying sex.