Infertility has traditionally been thought of as a woman's problem. But as
it turns out, we men don't get off that easily. About one out of every three
cases of infertility is due to the man alone, and we're somehow involved in
infertility about half the time.
A diagnosis of male infertility can be one of the hardest challenges a man
can face. For some, it can be devastating. After all, the necessity of
reproduction is one of the few things on which both Darwin and the Bible agree.
Pediatric urologist Lane S. Palmer, MD, chief of pediatric urology at Cohen Children's Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y., hears it a lot.
"Fathers often will ask it about their sons -- and, while in the office, will ask about themselves," Palmer tells WebMD.
Men worried about their penis size usually have some other excuse for seeing a doctor, says Bruce R. Gilbert, MD, PhD, director of reproductive and sexual medicine at the Smith Institute for Urology in Lake Success, N.Y.
"When they come in for something else, they ask, 'Oh, by the way, I am concerned about the length of my penis,'" Gilbert tells WebMD. "Most are men in the 20-to-40 age group. But some are aged 40 to 50, and some even older men ask."
The vast majority of these men are in for a surprise. Worry about small penis size is common. Abnormally small penis size is not.
Penis Size: What's Normal, What's Not
You might think that as long a man's penis works, he would have no problem with it. You would be wrong.
Penis size is a key element of a man's self-image. Yet when he's not boasting to other men, the average man significantly underestimates the relative size of his penis.
Here's an example: Over a two-year period, 67 men asked an Italian hospital for surgical correction of a small penis. All turned out to have normal-size penises.
"A few days ago, I had a patient who spent an hour taking measurements of his penis and thinking it is too small," Gilbert says. "Yet it was normal."
That man isn't alone. About 45% of his brethren want a bigger penis. Never mind that 85% of heterosexual women say they are satisfied with their partners' penis parameters.
Many men worry about the size of their erections. Many more worry about how their penis looks when it's limp, studies find.
So how can a man know if he's normal, super-sized, or small? Not by his shoe size, a common and disproved myth about estimating penis length. Like so much else in life, direct measurement is the key.
How to Measure a Penis
Men may be surprised to learn that penis length isn't measured on the erect penis. Too many variables are involved.
Instead, the most reliable penis measurement is called SPL -- stretched penis length. The longer a man's SPL, the longer his erect penis length, according to studies done on brave young men who volunteered to have erection-stimulating penis injections.
To learn your SPL, measure the penis while it's flaccid. Press the ruler tight against the pubic bone at the base of the penis. Don't just measure from where the penis separates from the scrotum, or you'll lose precious centimeters. Now gently, but very firmly, stretch the penis as far as it will go. Measure from the pubic bone to the tip of the stretched penis.