The true measure of a man
April 21st, 2011
08:34 AM ET

The true measure of a man

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

As a sexuality counselor and writer, this is the question that keeps on giving. No matter how often it gets asked, everyone has an opinion, so allow me to offer mine:

Gentlemen, unless you are in possession of a micropenis - a rare condition in which a man’s erect penis is shorter than 2 inches in length - size does not and should not matter. (Although judging from the onslaught of spam the average guy receives in a day with the promise of a bigger penis from some sort of bogus enlargement technique, you may not be inclined to agree.)

If penis size really is an issue, it seems to matter more to men than to women. According to the British Journal of Urology, when researchers looked at more than 50 studies spanning the course of 60 years, they found that 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size– yet only 55% of men felt good about their penises!

That’s a big difference in perception, and in my personal opinion, this sense of male insecurity is only likely to increase in the wake of Internet porn.

That’s because research shows that more than a third of men who incorrectly believe their penises are too small say their insecurity began by viewing erotic images during their teen years.

And if the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is correct in its report that number of men opting for cosmetic surgeries and other procedures has increased considerably, then it’s only a matter of time before penis-enlargement procedures catch up with female procedures such as labioplasty.

When determining the measure of a man’s penis size and what’s “normal” there are two important dimensions to consider: length (the measurement from the base of a man’s penis to the tip) and girth (the distance around a penis, usually measured at the middle of a man’s penile shaft). The average penis ranges between 5.5 and 6.2 inches in length and between 4.7 and 5.1 inches in girth when erect.

So considering that the average vagina is just 3 to 4 inches deep, most guys are doing just fine with their average dimensions.

That’s not to say that size is completely irrelevant to women. When pressed, the majority of women (according to a 2001 survey in BMC Women’s Health) say that penis circumference (girth) is more important for pleasure than penis length. As many of you know the female clitoris is the powerhouse of the female orgasm, and most of the sensitive nerve endings that contribute to female orgasm are located on the surface of the vulva rather than inside the vagina.

But there is much more to the clitoris than just what you can see and feel: In its landmark work, "A New View of a Woman’s Body: A Fully Illustrated Guide," the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers identifies 18 structures in the clitoral network, some visible, some hidden.

What’s that have to do with penis size? The entire clitoris is shaped like an upside down “V,” explains Madeleine Castellanos M.D., psychiatrist and contributor to Good in Bed. Its legs (crurae) extend down and under the pubic bone, and it also has extensions that follow along each side of the vaginal opening, called the vestibular bulbs. The entire clitoris is made up of spongy tissue that fills with blood when a woman gets aroused.

“A wide penis puts more pressure on the vestibular bulbs,” she says, “which gives a pleasurable feeling of fullness at the vaginal opening.”

So what should a guy do if he feels lacking in the size department? In terms of penis enlargement, nothing! From pumps to pills to extenders, there is no scientific proof that any of these approaches are effective - and many of them can be dangerous. Penis size is hereditary, so work with what you have, and work well (even if you do have a micropenis).

Instead of worrying about how to enlarge your penis, focus on improving your foreplay. Most women don’t orgasm from intercourse alone, so men need to focus on outercourse. Think of foreplay as a complete act of lovemaking, from start to finish. Treat her entire body like an erotic landscape: kissing, hugging, oral pleasure, fantasizing.

“As a woman gets more and more aroused, all the erectile tissue that surrounds the vagina becomes more and more filled with blood,” says Castellanos. “This results in more tightness around the opening of the vagina and increases a woman’s pleasure.”

So if size does matter, it’s the dimensions of a guy’s brain and his propensity to understand female sexuality that make up the true measure of a man.

soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. Muffarama

    My, my what men we have here! Nothing works like flowers, candy, vodka, a quiet room, deep pillows, soft sheets and a well honed tongue.

    April 21, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David in Corpus

      don't forget the finger(s) alongside said tongue, might as well hit both buttons at the same time.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • Phreedom

      also Pizza, laptop and fast wireless connection

      April 22, 2011 at 04:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      Muffarama, save your money on the candy and flowers and hone that tongue.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
  2. Jessica

    size does matter !!!
    but too bad all of us will die, some will die sooner. so use it often because you cannot use it anymore when you are dead. 😉

    April 21, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David in Corpus

      so mean Jess, ever so mean.
      I am liking you more and more.
      Too bad I am not so lame to fly across country to meet you.
      How much fun it must be to be that psycho.

      April 21, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • Phreedom

      Well...if we ever get buried next to each other I'll prove you wrong.

      April 22, 2011 at 04:55 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      The author is apparently not well endowed. BTW, most married women will say that they are "satisfied" with their man, but when asked whether they would prefer a guy with a larger unit, 95% say, "YES"!

      April 22, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • Also

      Let's not forget that for women looks and size matter also, ie. if you aint hot and if you are huge forget it! And clean too!

      April 22, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
  3. wavegeek

    Another brilliant article by CNN...

    April 21, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adrian

      CNN is so cutting edge with swill stories

      April 21, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
  4. David in Corpus

    Aubrie – are you in Corpus Christi, Texas too?

    April 21, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aubrie

      Yup. Sure am.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
  5. Tommy Lee112

    Ask Pamela Anderson that fool!!
    My wifey loves me too much to say otherwise. lol

    April 21, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John

    Nobody has mentioned shape, texture or turgidity. Heck, my gal says mine is the most beautiful she has ever laid her eyes on. Many women have shared with me that it is also the most texturally stimulating and magnificently hard penis they have ever enjoyed. Its texture has been described as like thousands of tiny fingers urging them on to uncharted pleasure and causing M'lady to fear that even Heaven may not hold a comparable ecstasy . 'course it doesn't hurt to feel good about what you got, either.

    April 21, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David in Corpus

      Dude, you talk a good line. You don't even need alcohol as an assist.

      April 21, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • NothingButTheTruth

      Texture?? What the hell are you referring to? Do you have a bumpy toad-penis? Or a bunch of varicose veins popping out? I think someone fed you some BS...

      April 21, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • Phreedom

      Texture? You've been playing with Photoshop too much.

      April 22, 2011 at 05:11 | Report abuse |
    • fred

      Turgidity? WOW! That's an SAT word! You must be real smart. I bet you say that to your woman to get her aroused.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      those are called warts dude lol

      April 22, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse |

      I can't stop laughing!

      April 22, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  7. frank

    Dont let this guy fool you. He interview his mother, sisters and wife. The wrote the article. Plus is the same article that is posted every year. Asked any female on the streets of New York wich would she rather choose a 5 inch or a 9 inch. i bet she will choose the 9 everytime.

    April 21, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      I would prefer a HARD 5 inch to a limp 9 inch.

      April 21, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
    • size of knowledge matters

      Ask any woman and she will choose a man who knows how to use what he has and will take the time to make sure his partner gets what she likes. I'll ride a smaller man who makes me feel good all over than a larger jerk who only cares if he gets off. 100% of women will agree.

      April 21, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      That's nice Laura, but you'd prefer a HARD 9 over a HARD 5.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
  8. frank

    Oh yeah, Why dont you ask Jessica she will tell ya.

    April 21, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Nick

    Here's the test. Try and put it in a cardboard toilet paper roll. If it doesn't fit in then you're above average in width. If it fits in and pokes out the other side then you're above average in length.

    April 21, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Holmes Diggler

      What does it mean if I flunk part one, but pass part two......using a Bounty paper towel roll.

      April 21, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |

      Um, I'm worried about you. If the last time you had a stiffy you were putting it into a toilet paper roll then you got more issues than size!

      April 22, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Lesley

      What about a paper towell roll, will that do?

      May 1, 2011 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
  10. MikePost

    It's hardness rather than size that matters. Ask any woman!

    April 21, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NothingButTheTruth

      Hard does matter, but I wouldn't say size is completely out the window.

      April 21, 2011 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      It's BOTH hardness and size.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
  11. NothingButTheTruth

    If I were a guy and had a micropenis...I'd just kill myself.

    April 21, 2011 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Betty

    Size doesnt matter a bit, its what you do with it guys.... when it's all about "you", it doesn't matter if it's a foot long....if it's about both of us, five inches is great..... it's more about "can you do it" and "can you shoot it" than how big it is.....

    April 21, 2011 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phreedom

      That's true. Case in point, I have never seen any woman get a foot long sub sandwich from Subway. It's always six inches. Although they do fatten it up with a lot of meat though.

      April 22, 2011 at 05:13 | Report abuse |
    • John

      Find a guy who's not in it for his own pleasure and find a softie who's not that into you.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  13. Ha!

    Ha! LOL!!!!! BB, that has to be the best response I've ever seen in a comment section. LOVE IT!!!

    April 21, 2011 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Chris

    Size does matter, but maybe not as much as men think, but I do agree a thicker penis is much more pleasurable than a long penis. Those long 9 inch penises don't do a damn thing except hurt. If there isn't some girth, then what's the point? Men, stop envying men who have long, snakey penises.

    April 21, 2011 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply

      Please tell me you are woman and not a man.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
  15. James

    I haven't been with tons of women, but I've had my share. All of them have complained that my penis is actually too large. It makes it uncomfortable for them and takes away from the whole experience for both of us. Not bragging, just saying that size does matter.

    April 21, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      You're right – too big can actually be kind of scary. I can remember thinking I was going to end up with stretch marks around my mouth from one particular guy! It's reallly, really important for you to remember to make sure your partner is "warmed up" so you don't inadvertently cause a lot of discomfort!

      Best part is, you don't sound like you're bragging.

      April 22, 2011 at 08:20 | Report abuse |
  16. Jessica

    Think of it this way. God gave you an I Phone (your penis). But of course you have to get some apps. Tongue apps are the best value for the money. Just my personal recommendation. 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phreedom

      Jessica, you should definitely check out my Blackberry. It's meant for business.

      April 22, 2011 at 05:16 | Report abuse |
  17. Fiery Buddha

    "...when researchers looked at more than 50 studies spanning the course of 60 years, they found that 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size..."

    They lied. Trust me – we talk, us girls, and they lied. We don't need logs, but...

    April 21, 2011 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. K

    She's trying to avoid making it 11 kids.

    April 21, 2011 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jamie

    lol! As a woman, thumbs up. You must be doing something right.

    April 21, 2011 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Insecure

    I must say that I am very upset to hear that size isn't important.
    I guess I'll just have to try and find some way to derive and deliver pleasure with my extremely large endowment! 😉

    April 21, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jdoe

      Do you live near a stable?

      April 22, 2011 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Phreedom

      It's large enough you can be your own best friend

      April 22, 2011 at 05:04 | Report abuse |
  21. heather

    i am so tired of hearing that size doesn't matter. that is just women patronizing men. of course it matters. and there are many many many many men that do not have anywhere near the average. many many many. and i am tired of hearing she's just big. it is verbal abuse on her by him to cover up his shortcomings. and also if it hurts because he seems to big, changee position. if that doesn't help it is most likely because you don't want him. if you do not have a medical problem an you are not lubing enough to find it pleasuable, you don't want him. focus on that

    April 21, 2011 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phreedom

      I hear you. On the cold days mine looks like a button on a fur coat – cute one though.

      April 22, 2011 at 05:05 | Report abuse |
    • Heywood_Jablowme

      Hello..Hello...Hello...(echoes from that cavernous opening)

      April 22, 2011 at 11:13 | Report abuse |

      Maybe you just aren't attractive. And while we are talking about size let's talk about breasts!

      April 22, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  22. All this is good stuff

    But it all ends up the same way. My wife of 25 years is now post menopause and nothing makes a difference any more. Nothing. So enjoy it while you can with whatever it is you have or want.

    April 21, 2011 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Knightinshiningarmor

      Been there. You just need to find someone new that appreciates it.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
  23. Monica

    Here's how I look at it guys. You guys will admit you would like a girl with big b–bs. But you wouldn't kick a woman out of bed with small ones.

    April 21, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JamieS

      The truth is:

      1. I have never heard a guy complain about any breast to which he actually had access. In reality there is no such thing as a below-average breast.
      2. If a girl wants to change the size of her breasts, she can.

      April 21, 2011 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
  24. Jez

    This writer is a joke. He's not a woman, so how the heck would he know if size matters?

    April 21, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phreedom

      For the sake research and science, he pretended that he was a woman and started experimenting. The surprising part was the conclusion that size doesn't matter. If you can confirm his result this community will be very appreciative. 🙂

      April 22, 2011 at 05:23 | Report abuse |
  25. Gary

    Size matters to whom it matters. Size does not matter to whom it does not matter. Penistatol

    April 21, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Cece

    Size does matter. I would rather have short and thick than long and skinny. Perfect would be semi-long and thick, but it truly is how emotionally connected you are and how much of an effort that you put in pleasing your partner without being selfish.

    April 21, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. MaryAnn in VA

    You go and more women need husbands like you.

    April 21, 2011 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mikey B

    I can suck my own member. Does that make it above average?

    April 21, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      No – you're not average at all. Most dogs can't even talk let alone post something on a blog.

      April 22, 2011 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
    • Phreedom

      No, it just shows that you have long lips

      April 22, 2011 at 05:26 | Report abuse |
  29. UncleM

    Please learn about contraception. The world is overpopulated.

    April 21, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Yea, you would know.

      May 16, 2011 at 18:59 | Report abuse |
  30. jdoe

    One thing that does matter: Rigidity. A floppy member is no good, no matter what size it is.

    April 21, 2011 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mai Teabigg

    Wow, lots of small penis stories. Six inches is small, sorry. Do a real survey ! Wives and girlfriends ALWAYS massage their man's ego. If you have to question it, then it probably isn't enough.

    April 22, 2011 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. cherry popped guy


    April 22, 2011 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Beau Nerking

    You're all small and frustrated.

    April 22, 2011 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Al Weyzreddi

    I want to meet you Heather !

    April 22, 2011 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Joe Manninbed

    Monica needs a real man and a real clue !

    April 22, 2011 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Get her on all fours wrap a flag around her head and bang her from behind. Just do it for the country and leave a 10 dollar tip on her back.

      May 16, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
  36. Adeline

    This article is so pathetic. The true measure of a man is the the quality of the cause and purpose he lives for and his capacity to selflessly love the woman and the willingness and compotence to protect those who are under him. People should care less about s e x in order to experience true love in that conduct itself. Where are real men nowadays? Pleasure-oriented or pleasure-conscious men are the last ones we need in this planet now.

    April 22, 2011 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Norm

      So you're saying a real man is a self sacrificial eunich dedicated to your pleasure and safety? Wow.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
  37. BruceF

    I found a way to make mine 9 inches. I fold it in half

    April 22, 2011 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • omg i LOL'd

      SOOOOOOO funny! Hahah

      May 4, 2011 at 00:44 | Report abuse |
  38. Bubba Smith

    Why don't they compare the size & shape of women also?

    April 22, 2011 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      Are you kidding? Advertising does that every day.

      April 22, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse |
  39. Basil999

    As the old song says, it ain't the meat, it's the motion...

    April 22, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Basil999

    Have had my share of huge "schlongs"...both length and girth, where the wielder had no clue how to wield his ammunition. Size is "nice" (I agree girth over length) but frankly, it ain't the meat, it's the motion.

    April 22, 2011 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Norm

    15% think their partner is too small. That's 1 in 7. Next time you're in a meeting with 7 or more guys try to guess which one. And if you can't, then its you. I, on the other other hand, can give orgasms to the furniture just by sitting on it. 😀

    April 22, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. fred

    All of you guys posting here seem to have to work really hard (no pun intended) to get your satisfaction adn satisfy your woman.. Maybe its just me and my wife, but after 20 years of marriage we are having better times than ever. 5.5" and 5" around like the average man as per the article. 9"? Do you want to poke hole into her stomach? Thats' a freak show!

    April 22, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Shamrock6

    My weiner is big.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rob

    I don't care what any health expert says about no such thing as peniis enlargement. i have used a tecnique called jelqing and it has improved my penis girth and length. Jelqing is not an operation or surgery it's attained by doing penis excerises with your hands

    April 22, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anonymous Reader

      Very clever. The rest of us call that exercise "jerking," but regardless, it has a bad side effect in that it makes you go blind. LOL

      April 22, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  45. Tom Leykis

    Hey, clueless, size does matter. I'm rather substantially large and, yes, hot women like it.

    April 22, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Nick

    It's not the size of the ship. It's the motion of the ocean but I don't mind cruising in a yacht.

    April 22, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. TH

    It's not the size of the instrument – but how well it's played.

    My lover does tell me however that "girth" is key.

    April 22, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mr Curve

    How about the whole curve thing. Better to turn upwards.... Better to turn down..... Or the straight as an arrow. Come on ladies let's hear what's best

    April 22, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Heywood_Jablowme

    Everybody have fun tonight...Everybody WANG chun tonight...

    April 22, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Nina

    Sorry guys – but size DOES count, period. If a woman denies this, she is lying, lying, lying.....

    April 22, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.