What Is the Average Penis Size — And Can You Do Anything About It?

The average penis size isn’t as big as you think—here’s what science has to say about it.

You may have wondered at some point how your penis compares to others – Is it shorter than average? Thicker? Penises are like any other part of the body, they vary in shape and size and there’s no such thing as the ideal or perfect penis. Still, people are curious about what’s a normal penis size.

People often overestimate average penis size, thinking it’s larger than six inches. This is partly due to several studies that reported the average penis size was slightly over six inches based on potentially biased measurements taken by study participants themselves. However, newer research suggests that the average size is about an inch less than that. 

So let’s break down what we do know about the variety of penis sizes and the treatments available to enlarge or change your penis size. 

How Big Is the Average Penis? 

A 2020 review of research found that the average erect penis is likely closer to 5.1 to 5.5 inches. Factoring in volunteer bias, the researchers believe that the average falls on the lower end of that range, around 5 inches. The average length of a flaccid penis, on the other hand, is around 3 inches.

A study from 2014 of more than 15,000 men tried to solve for bias by having doctors measure their patients’ pensises. The study found the average flaccid penis was about 3.61 inches long and 3.67 inches in circumference, while the average erect penis was 5.17 inches long and 4.59 inches in circumference. 

Factors That Affect Penis Size

There are factors that impact the size of a penis at any given moment. For example, cold temperatures can make your penis appear smaller, Mike Bohl, MD, Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro, told Health. 

He also points out that the size of your penis flaccid doesn’t necessarily correlate with the size of your erect penis. Some people experience more growth with an erection than others. Hence, where the popular phrase, “a grower, not a shower” comes from. 

Ultimately, people can thank their genes and level of hormone exposure for their penis size, Dr. Bohl said. Size can vary between family members, but there's also a difference among group populations. The average penis size in one population may differ from the average penis size in another population.

“As long as a penis is large enough to get the job done — and that job is reproduction — the genetics that made that penis will get passed along,” Dr. Bohl said.

Can You Make Your Penis Bigger? 

Permanently making your penis larger often isn’t possible.

Penile enhancement surgery is experimental, at best. At the moment, there are no peer-reviewed or independently-monitored studies that prove that penile lengthening and girth enhancement surgery work or are safe.

Non-surgical options include things like the traction method which involves using a device to stretch your penis for a few hours a day for weeks or months at a time. This technique comes with side effects like pain and discomfort and doesn’t promise significant or long-lasting results.

Then there are penis pumps or vacuums, which are used to provide temporary results by drawing blood into your penis. Penis pumps can be used to temporarily make the penis appear bigger during sex, but this doesn't lead to permanent change.

The bottom line is that some penis enlargement techniques are both dangerous and ineffective, and aren’t worth the risk of potential long-term damage to your penis’ ligaments. Most people who seek penis enhancement surgery have a statistically average-sized penis but may think it is smaller due to body dysmorphia, a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about the flaws in their appearance.

How to Make Your Penis Look Bigger

A few simple tricks can make a penis look larger than it is, without any procedures or techniques. 

  • Lose weight: A large stomach can cover a penis and potentially hide it. If your penis is hidden, it can make it look a lot smaller. 
  • Shave your pubic hair: Pubic hair can lead to making a penis look smaller. If shaving is not your thing, consider laser hair removal. 
  • Improve your posture: Poor posture can make your hips ride back and have your stomach stick out further. Improving your posture can make your penis appear to stick out farther. 

A Quick Review

It’s common to think your penis is smaller than it should be or to be self-conscious about the size of your penis. Most people overestimate the average penis size, and they also often underestimate how theirs stacks up. In fact, misjudging the size of your penis is akin to Body Dysphoric Disorder and has been coined as Penile Dysmorphic Disorder.

The cultural obsession with penis size is rooted in outdated perceptions about virility and pleasure. But it’s important to remember that penis size does not correlate with the amount of pleasure your partner might feel, or with how attractive or sexually desirable you are.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Wise J. Average length of a flaccid and erect penis is published to help counselors. BMJ. 2015;350(mar02 15). doi:10.1136/bmj.h1193 

  3. Sexual Medicine Society of Normal America, Inc. Position statement: Penile lengthening and girth enhancement procedures. http://www.smsna.org/V1/index.php/about/position-statements.

  4. Bettocchi C, Checchia AA, Falagario UG, et al. Male esthetic genital surgery: recommendations and gaps to be filled. Int J Impot Res. 2022;34(4):392-403. doi:10.1038/s41443-022-00556-6

  5. Oates J, Sharp G. Nonsurgical medical penile girth augmentation: Experience-based recommendations. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2017;37(9):1032-1038. doi:10.1093/asj/sjx068 

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