Is My Penis Too Small?
Micropenis, Inconspicuous Penis Less Common Than Small Penis Syndrome
Inconspicuous Penis: When Size Isn't the Only Issue
"Inconspicuous penis means a penis that is hard to see," Palmer says.
Micropenis -- a truly tiny penile shaft -- is the rarest of the conditions under the umbrella term "inconspicuous penis."
Other forms of inconspicuous penis that may have remained untreated until adulthood are webbed penis and buried penis.
"The webbed penis indicates the scrotum has connected to the underside of the penis so it pulls the penis inward," Palmer says. "Usually the penis is at right angles to the scrotum. But in webbed penis, the scrotum is high riding and the separation from the penis is not clear."
Buried penis occurs when the penis is hidden below the skin. This can happen because of excessive belly fat in the front of the abdominal wall droops down to conceal the penis. It can also happen when the connection to the scrotum is absent and the penis withdraws inward toward the pelvis. Another form of buried penis occurs when a too-large foreskin makes the penis look buried.
Webbed penis can be addressed via surgery. Buried penis may require only weight loss, and perhaps liposuction. There are also surgical procedures that can correct the problem.
Small Penis Syndrome
It's been dubbed small penis syndrome: the belief that you aren't a real man because you don't have a big penis.
Perhaps one reason men often believe this is that most men have no idea what a normal-size penis looks like. When asked to guess, most guess wrong. About 15% of men just throw up their hands and admit they don't know, one study found.
Another reason is pornography. Palmer tells the story of a teen patient who was in agony over his small penis size. But examination showed he was perfectly normal. It turned out that the boy had been viewing Internet pornography, from which he got a distorted picture of normal male anatomy.
And because penis size is such a major part of a man's body image, men suffering from body dysmorphic disorder often focus on the size of their penises.
Body dysmorphic disorder and other psychiatric issues that may underlie small penis syndrome may require professional psychological help. But Palmer and Gilbert say that most men need only reassurance that they really are normal.
"I give the patient a physical and get his personal history and social history," Gilbert says. "If he has no medical problem, I speak positively. I tell him that he has a normal phallus that is no different in function from any other healthy man. I give him confidence."
Palmer notes that the law of averages dictates that some men will have smaller penises than others. This does not make them abnormal.
"If a man has perfectly normal penis function, he must reconcile with the fact that his penis is what it is," he says. "You cannot make a short person tall. People have to accommodate to their own anatomy."