Ask the Loveologist: How Big is Big Enough?

The following question is a compilation of one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from men:

Q: Does the size of a man’s penis affect the women’s sexual experience? I think that I have a smaller than average penis- What can I do so that I can not be a disappointment to my partner? What about all of the penis enlargement advertisements that I see? Are there products that actually work for penile enlargement? Will a woman leave a guy because he has a small penis?

A: The anxiety that many if not most men feel about their penis size is as universal as the misconception that it is the penis that is the ringleader when it comes to sexual satisfaction and prowess. “We equate masculinity and power with penis size,” says Ira Sharlip, MD, clinical professor of urology at the University of California at San Francisco and president of the International Society for Sexual Medicine. “Of course, there’s really no relationship.” Still, Sharlip says, “all” of his patients want to increase their penis size.

The anxiety attached to penis size has shown up in many studies, where men clearly overestimate the size of the average penis and consistently underestimate their own by comparison. For the record, the average male penis is flaccid (not erect): from 3.4 inches to 3.7 inches (8.6 cm to 9.3 cm), erect from 5.1 inches to 5.7 inches (12.9 cm to 14.5 cm) and average penis girth (circumference when erect): from 3.5 inches to 3.9 inches (8.8 cm to 10 cm).

Sadly, many other studies confirm this same finding that men tend to compare themselves in a way that is likely to end up with a negative evaluation. This might be, in part, because most pornographic depiction of penis size does not reflect the average man’s penis. He got the [pornographic] job because he was so large. Even men who are considering the painful process of surgical penile enlargement more often than not have average size penises even though they would describe themselves as having unusually small penises.

Penile enlargement surgery is the only permanent solution for penis size. The surgery can cost anywhere between $5,000 -$17,000. Generally it can add no more than one inch in length. Another procedure, dermal implant is used to increase girth. Like all surgical procedures, complications arise. The short term solution that many men use for temporary engorgement of the penis are vacuum or penis pumps. Vacuum pumps are clinically tested and require a prescription. They are often prescribed for erectile dysfunction. Penis pumps are sold in adult stores and on line. Some do not have adequate release mechanisms so that there is a risk of blood vessel rupture. All pumps work by drawing blood quickly into the penis and using a constriction ring which keeps the blood in the penis. Some are more effective than others and some are downright dangerous, so be sure to investigate before purchasing. None of the topical or pill treatments that fill the din of noise making about penis enlargement have shown any clinical success, so don’t waste your money.

In a web study of over 50,000 heterosexual men and women, 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size compared with only 55% of the men. In an all-women’s study, penis size was considered very important by less than 25% of participants. Even among the 50% of women who said it was somewhat important, sexual skill and taking the time and attention for their partner ranked higher. “It’s a myth that using the penis is the main way to pleasure a woman,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex and relationships counselor in New York City whose book She Comes First offers a guide to “female orgasms and producing them through inspired oral techniques.” In his book, Kerner cites a study that reports women reaching orgasm about 25% of the time with intercourse, compared with 81% of the time during oral sex.

Becoming an accomplished lover has way more to do with the desire and intention to be a great lover than it does your penis size. In fact, spending time in the study and practice of being an incredible lover is perhaps one of the healthiest ways to let go of your concerns about your genital size. By refocusing your energy and curiosity on the amazing mysteries of pleasuring your partner, your skills and your self esteem will rise. Breaking through one of the biggest sex lies of all time, that a man’s sexuality is a reflection of his penis size, is a gift that you give your partner as much as yourself.


Vinod F.
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Harry M.
Harry M.2 months ago

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Harry M.
Harry M.2 months ago

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Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago


Nimue Pendragon

I guess I've been lucky to enjoy well over average :)

Billy B.
Billy B.3 years ago

Hummmm average, I'll take it. *LOL*

paul m.
paul m.3 years ago

Should have paid more attention to Dr. Ruth,,,

Heidi R.
Past Member 3 years ago

As usual your article really gets to the point of the matter. I agree, desire and intention is of greatest importance in a relationship.

Quantum F.
Quantum F.4 years ago

Really wish these articles would just stop. They do a disservice IMO. Men are fixated on size because size *does* matter. A lot. Cant change it. If you are below average, you cant fix it. There is no choice but to deal with it. For the medical community to endlessly crank out BS articles like this, however, really doesnt help.

Just look at the comments. Every actual female that posted here (you can see the real female profiles) was clearly being honest. Unfortunately, despite feeling they are somehow agreeing with the analysis, they arent. All of them either say something along the lines of "well size DOES matter at a certain point" or "size isnt ALL that matters" or "all of MY boyfriends are 8"+, but Im sure smaller would be ok" or "5" is average?! Ive never SEEN one that small, but I suppose it would be ok" or "love is what REALLY matters" followed by "as long as its big enough"

So yes, guys obsess over size because now that women openly articulate what they want (which is good), the fact is that they want "enough". What that # is, who knows. Varies from woman to woman. But anecdotally, most women who post at least *claim* that their own "lovers" are *far* above the supposed "average" even though they have "no problem" with smaller. None of this helps guys figure out how to not want to kill themselves if they are stuck with 6". Articles should be written without referencing women at all honestly. I'd like to see articles along the lines of "if you are

Shamim A.
Shamim Ahmed6 years ago

To Holly regarding role of love in love making:I don,t disagree with you as you have based your comments on your own experience. But believe me, each human being is unique. In sexual science there is no myth and no final word. Kinsey, Masters and Johnson are not supernatural being, they just interpreted what they heard or learned. You study them to have diverse experiences but which may not be applicable in your personal life.

For me I would always help my partner reach her orgasm by some way and my experience is that the question of organ, big or small was not a big factor. In many instances the stranger female partners did not have orgasm although I am not small and they were quite interested. With some of them when we came to know each other and some affection developed I found that they had mind blowing experiences. Love and with it other emotional responses like affection and respect together are the stimulants that have power to make sex very enjoyable. There are exceptions, of course, when some factors in our psyche may create uncontrollable passion for a person just at first sight (without knowing his is big or small or for a male she is a virgin or not) and mating with him or her could take you to heavenly feelings.

I am not trying at all to displace you from your ground, rather I recognise it but that is one experience in millions and billions of experiences.