According to the Wiley Online Library, the average penis size sits at 3.61 inches flaccid and 5.16 inches erect. But penis size is largely dependent on a variety of factors including genetics, hormones, testosterone, and ethnicity, says urologist Koushik Shaw, MD.
Considering penises come in bouts of shapes and sizes (think: bananas, hammers, and pencils for visuals), it begs the question: Does penis size really, actually matter?
Below, four men who identify as having a small penis settle the question once and for all.
You identify as having a small penis. How big is it?
Man A: Around five inches, but when it’s flaccid, it looks like it’s not even there, which is my real hang-up.
Man B: 4.1 inches when erect and 1.6 when flaccid.
Man C: Three inches when erect.
Man D: When flaccid, it's about one to two inches.
When did you realize you were smaller than average?
Man A: I think around once I started watching porn in high school, I concluded that everyone else had a much longer penis.
Man B: In my early teens. When getting changed after swimming class when I was 13, I noticed that the other boys’ penises were noticeably larger than mine. Mine looked tiny in comparison. I started paying more attention to other penises and quickly realized that I had a small one.
Man C: Around 13, seeing other boys in the changing room. Seeing their larger penises and pubic hair made me feel inferior. I felt like I needed to hide my genitals in order to avoid being singled out and bullied. I assumed I was just a late developer, but when I did finally get pubic hair when I was 15, my penis seemed to remain the same size.
Man D: In middle school when we were required to shower after gym class.
How did you feel about your penis size growing up?
Man A: I was always worried that it was small but I didn’t really have any way to know for sure until I got a computer.
Man B: I was embarrassed. I would get changed in locker rooms backed into the corner, constantly fearing that someone would see my penis and laugh.
Man C: I was shy about it and wanted it to be bigger. I didn’t try to go further than kissing girls because I felt my small penis would make me an object of ridicule at school and, later, with work colleagues.
Man D: Awkward and totally embarrassed.
And how do you feel about it now?
Man A: I am pretty ambivalent about the size of it now since I’ve gotten older. I’ve always managed to have a healthy amount of good sex [regardless of size].
Man B: I’ve come to slowly accept that having a small penis is something I can do little about and have to accept. I still don’t like getting changed in front of other men and still struggle to admit to having a small penis. However, I don’t feel the same complete embarrassment I felt growing up.
Man C: I’m happy with it now, as I developed a fetish for humiliation. I have a Twitter account about small penis humiliation, a recognized fetish where submissive men with small penises are ridiculed and punished, usually by superior and dominant women. The women remain fully clothed while the men are stripped or feminized with makeup and lingerie and made to masturbate or carry out demeaning tasks, such as chores or stripper-style dance routines.
Man D: I’ve gotten used to it by now.
In your experience, does size matter to the people you sleep with?
Man A: I think that it definitely does matter to your partner, but you can still please them if you are competent in bed (e.g., bringing your partner to orgasm). I also think confidence plays a big part in being a good partner. A lot of poor performance can come from anxiety.
Man B: I think it matters more to me than it does to them. However, I have never managed to make a woman orgasm through penetrative sex. When I lost my virginity, I was very scared that my partner would laugh or leave, so I put off sex initially. When we did have sex, though, she didn’t say anything, and in our relationship, neither of us brought it up. Shortly after we broke up, I was on her Myspace page and noticed a conversation with her and two of her friends in which they joked about me having a “tiny penis.” I felt shocked and horrible for weeks afterward. Since then, I’ve made sure to talk about the issue with my partners rather than pretend the issue isn’t there.
Man C: Yes. I’ve had girls look visibly disappointed and tell their friends afterward. I once went home with a girl from a club who refused to sleep with me when she saw my penis. A week later, everybody at the club was talking about how small my penis is. I was distraught at the time but soon became aroused by the idea of girls laughing at it. It turns me on to think that these beautiful women know how small my penis is and think it couldn’t satisfy them, especially in a culture where we’re told that women desire large penises. In addition to this, when I am in a relationship, I often fantasize about my partner lusting after men with large penises and cuckolding me, making me watch them have sex.
Man D: There are times that I wish I could satisfy my wife and girlfriend more (yes, I have both, and they know about each other... no cheating). According to them, the size doesn’t matter and they enjoy it just the size it is. My girlfriend doesn’t want me to do anything to increase the size for any reason, but my wife would probably like it better.
What about socially, among other guys?
Man A: I’m sure it would matter if I were sleeping with other men, but for the most part, it doesn’t come up organically when you’re hanging out with the fellas.
Man B: I still feel the need to hide my penis from other guys, in locker rooms. Whenever I go to public toilets, I always use the cubicles and not the urinals. I have the problem in that my penis is small whilst erect but tiny when flaccid. It doesn’t seem socially acceptable in male culture to have a small penis. Having a large penis seems manly, whilst having a little one does not. Jokes amongst males are often made about having large penises, and I’ve joined in through masculine obligation despite being aware of having a very small one.
Man C: I don’t think it matters much anymore. At school, it was an issue, but other than the occasional abusive message on Twitter (which doesn’t bother me), guys don’t really make fun of penis size much from what I see.
Man D: I’m never naked around other guys any more so doesn’t bother me in the least.
How does the size of your penis influence the way that you have sex?
Man A: I am definitely much more eager to perform oral sex before penetrative sex. This stems out of concern that I might not pleasure my partners sufficiently through just intercourse.
Man B: Because the girth of my penis is also small, I prefer sexual positions in which my partner’s vagina feels tighter. My favorite is a variation on doggy-style, in which after I’ve put my penis inside her, she closes her legs and I have my legs open. This creates a tighter feeling and gives me more pleasure. I’ve never managed to make a woman orgasm through penetrative sex, which means I spend a lot of time on foreplay, particularly oral sex. My partner enjoys the fact that I spend so much time with my face between her legs! When she is on top, she positions herself farther backward than she says she typically would. This means my penis is pushed forward somewhat, which she says helps it go deeper inside her and push against the front of her vagina more. I’ve also discovered that vibrating cock rings are friends.
Man C: I’m not too experienced, but missionary works okay. Doggy-style is okay if she leans back far enough. Girl-on-top is good for me, but they usually tell me that it doesn’t do anything for them. Spooning is no good—I’ve been asked a few times, “Is it in yet?” I once wore a strap-on for an ex. It was amazing seeing how differently she reacted to something so big in comparison.
Man D: My wife sucks on me and my girlfriend likes to get on top. She says it reminds her of a clitoris (she's bisexual).
Do you ever wish your penis were larger?
Man A: Of course, who wouldn’t want to have a much bigger penis? I’m ultimately comfortable with my size now in the grand scheme of things, but if given the opportunity, I would change it.
Man B: Yes. I think I have suffered a low self-esteem because of having a small penis, but I’m trying to become less embarrassed by it and embrace it more. Talking it through with my girlfriend and getting the impression she really doesn’t mind has made me feel better. We have a healthy sex life and the culture we live in, of “big being better,” doesn’t tell the whole story. I have a small penis and I’m learning to be satisfied with it and accept it. Maybe one day, I will even be proud of it.
Man C: I used to, but not anymore. I became comfortable with it through the discovery of small penis humiliation, realizing that there was a recognized niche for what I have and what I enjoy sexually. As strange as it may sound, I’d actually like to reduce my size, if possible. I’ve looked into the possibility of dietary methods and physical exercises that could make my penis smaller, but apart from surgery, which I wouldn’t consider, there isn’t anything that will reduce it.
Man D: Of course I do! Back in the day, I wanted 10 inches and all that (too many porn movies). But I would like the flaccid size to be bigger, probably about 4 inches or so…
Is there anything you think people should know about guys with small penises?
Man A: It’s more common than you’d think. Men with “average” penises and smaller penises probably outnumber men with very large penises.
Man B: Don’t be put off, and be honest. If a guy has a small penis, he probably feels self-conscious about it. Put him at ease and it will probably make sex better for both of you. Oh, and try to avoid affectionate nicknames. My partner referred to my penis as “Wee Willie Winkie” once, and it didn’t go down well!
Man C: If you’re with somebody with a small penis, get to know him and make sure he gets to know you. Try to find things that work for you both. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say if something isn’t working for you. I’d also like to say that despite my small penis and humiliation fetish, I’m actually a happy and outgoing person.
Man D: Guys with small penises can still have sex and enjoy the hell out of it. It depends on the partners he has and whether they mind or not. My wife and girlfriend don’t mind, so why should I mind?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.