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Penis size

Penis size has been a concern for many people throughout history. It is often associated with strength and masculinity, and can ultimately affect self-esteem. It is common for people with a penis to worry about the size of their penis. Another common worry is that penis size will affect the amount of sexual pleasure a person can give their partner(s).

Puberty

As people with penises go through puberty, their bodies change. The voice deepens, body hair develops and the penis grows along with the rest of the body. Puberty happens at different ages and speeds, though most people with penises will be fully developed by the age of 20.

During puberty, it is normal for boys to be concerned with how their bodies are developing and to compare the size of their penis with other males. For some trans feminine people, the size and presence of the penis can cause distress.

What’s “normal”?

There is no ‘normal’ size for a fully-developed penis. Different studies have shown a range of average sizes:

  • Length when flaccid/soft (not erect/hard): 2-4 inches
  • Length when erect/hard: 5-6 inches
  • Thickness when erect: 3-4 inches around

Some people have a rare condition called micropenis, where the penis does not develop to an average adult size range. Talk to your health care provider if you think this might apply to you.

A penis can look different depending on the body around it. For example, an average size penis surrounded by a larger body might look smaller than it would on a smaller body.

Changing penis size

Enlargement

While many products claim to increase the size of the penis, no studies have shown that creams or supplements actually work.

Using a penis vacuum pump can temporarily enlarge the penis by increasing the flow of blood to the area, which makes the erection stronger.

There are surgical procedures that can be done to make the penis look longer. This is done by cutting ligaments in the groin, resulting in the penis hanging lower and appearing longer. After surgery, special care is needed to maintain the length of the penis. This surgery comes with the risk of side effects, however, including a change in the angle of erection so that the penis no longer points outward or upward. Talking to a plastic surgeon about these procedures can help decide if this is for you.

There are two proven ways to change the appearance of penis size without surgery:

  1. Removing pubic hair will make the penis look longer by showing the part of the penis that is usually hidden behind the hair.
  2. When a person gains weight, their penis will appear smaller because of increased fat distribution over the pubic area. If a person loses weight, the penis can look bigger as it is less covered by pubic fat and so is more visible.

Phalloplasty

Phalloplasty is the term used for construction or reconstruction of a penis, or the artificial modification of the penis by surgery. The term phalloplasty can also refer to penis enlargement.

Complete construction or reconstruction of a penis can be performed for people who:

  • Have anatomical problems such as micropenis, epispadias and hypospadias
  • Have lost or damaged their penis through trauma, burns or explosion
  • Desire gender-affirming surgery as part of their gender transition

Reduction

While some people may wish to reduce the size of their penis, there are no safe surgical options for this. For larger-than-average penises, underwear choice can make a big difference in comfort. If penetrative sex is painful, consider changing position so that your partner can control the speed of entry and depth of penetration.

Reduction in the size of the penis and testicles is experienced as a side-effect of hormone enhancing treatment for trans women and as a side-effect of hormone-blocking treatment for people with prostate cancer.
Some people may wish to completely hide their penis and testicles.Tucking is a way of hiding the penis and testes between the legs or inside the body so that they are not visible.

Resources

Scarleteen.com – Information on penis anatomy and size
Young Men’s Health – Information on penis size
The Kinsey Institute – FAQs on penis size
Trans Care BC – Information on phalloplasty
Trans Care BC – Information on tucking

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