As a child, I never would have guessed I'd one day be paid to type the phrase "jock itch."
Actually, I'm sort of surprised now as an adult to find that jock itch, and its southerly cousin athlete's foot, still exist. There's something sort of quaint about these and other minor locker room infections - they seem to belong in the moldering realm of short shorts and tube socks that marked our fathers' Saturday mornings at the Y. Surely today's athletes, with their x-treme cross trainers and x-treme...
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.