Does Penis Size Matter During Sex?

picture of measuring tape

Sex Myth #4: In Sex, Penis Size Matters.

In our culture, people frequently measure themselves and make comparisons with others. You may have found yourself comparing height, weight, number of pounds lost post-baby (and how quickly), dress size, running times, amount of money in the bank, mortgage rates, sales figures for the month, cholesterol levels and more. What don’t we compare?

When it comes to sex, men – and those who love and lust after them – may discuss, dissect and compare penis size. In fact, questions about men’s penis size are among the most common sex questions that people ask me. Men often want to know whether they are big enough or thick enough or whether they are somehow “enough” to please a woman.

To some extent, size doesn’t matter as much as men think it does (which is the part of this idea that is a myth). After all, the vast majority of men are somewhere around an average size. Although it’s true that there are men on the extreme ends of penis size (very small and very large penises do exist; let’s not, however, discuss the eye-opening dream I had about Ashton & Demi), there are few men at those ends compared to the bulk of men who lie in the middle. Most men have an erect penis that is somewhere around 4.5 to 7 inches long. Studies about “average” erect penis size often wind up with results in the neighborhood of 5.1 to 5.8 inches long.

What this means is that size doesn’t matter all that much because there’s not a ton of difference from average guy to average guy. Where this stops being a myth is to say that size doesn’t matter at all.

The fact is that, for vaginal intercourse to feel pleasurable or orgasmic, many women and men who have sex with men will privately (and sometimes publicly) say that they would like to be with a man who is at least somewhere close to the average range (e.g., 5 or 6-ish inches). It’s not that a man with a two inch long erect penis cannot please the average person; in fact, some people would love to find a man with a smaller erect penis size. This may be particularly true for women who have vaginal pain issues, a short vagina, or if they very much enjoy performing oral sex but find it difficult to take in an average or larger sized penis. However, for many women, two inches of erect length might leave them wishing for more, or at least for more creativity (such as using a penis extender sex toy with a partner or having an orgasm from other means, such as oral sex).

That said, bigger isn’t always better. I have heard from many men who have a larger than average penis and who find it difficult to find a sex partner. Some men have found it next to impossible to find a female or male partner who can comfortably have vaginal or anal intercourse with them – or even oral sex. Even lube can’t help in all cases and it can be frustrating for both partners, particularly as people usually get together and stay together because they like or love each other. It can be heartbreaking when a couple feels that they cannot stay together because of things they cannot change (such as genitals that don’t quite “fit” together).

The Large Penis Support Group is a web site that is responsive to such men’s needs for information and support and 7orbetter is a relatively new web site that helps to connect men who are 7+ inches long with those who are comfortable with such a size, and like it. And we haven’t even touched here today on erect circumference (thickness) which is a whole separate issue.

What’s the take home message? Although size is rarely a make or break issue in relationships, it can be – and it shouldn’t be minimized when it is. Couples need information and support to help them figure out how to have a satisfying, pleasurable, enjoyable sexual and romantic life. Books, sex shops, web sites and sex therapy can all be helpful resources for couples who are in the market for improving their sex lives regardless of their genital size or fit issues.

Related MSP Articles:
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Love the penis? Get this purse.
What to do when his penis pops or breaks during sex
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What to do when a condom breaks

[Originally published in my weekly sex column at Cheeky Chicago.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • Ted

    I find this argument specious. It’s like saying there’s no difference between coach and business. They both get you there, but business is a heck of a lot more enjoyable.