Study: Men May Overestimate Normal Penis Size

Researcher Suggests Education to Correct Misunderstanding

From the WebMD Archives

June 29, 2005 -- Some men may have the wrong idea about normal penis size, says a researcher in Canada.

Rany Shamloul, MD, studied 92 men who complained of small penis size at an Egyptian andrology clinic in Cairo.

None actually had a small penis. Most were reassured to hear that, write Shamloul, who works at the University of Saskatchewan. His report appears in the journal Urology.

Researcher's Advice

"Men complaining of a short penis can be treated using the basic principles of sex education with objective methods of penile size evaluation," writes Shamloul.

"This combination can correct any previous sexual misconceptions, relieve unnecessary anxiety concerning penile size, and decrease the desire to undertake still-to-be-verified lengthening procedures," he writes.

Case Studies

The men were 19 to 52 years old (average age: 25). None had erectile dysfunction.

Before their exam, the men gave a complete history of their problems. Most had complained about a short penis in the flaccid state (72%) and about a third (28%) complained about a short penis both in the flaccid and stretched state.

They were also told that a flaccid penis is normally at least 1.6 inches long, or 2.7 inches when stretched.

Then, penis size was measured. Because the men had already been told about normal penis size, they knew the doctors weren't just telling them what they wanted to hear.

Most Concerns Eased

After the measurement and sex education, 86% of the men said their concerns had been relieved.

Thirteen men still said they had a problem and were considering surgery to lengthen their penis. They were told to get a psychosexual assessment first.

Three months later, after the assessment, 11 of the 13 men weren't interested in surgery any more. No information was available about the other two men.

Some Worries Traced Back to Childhood

The men were asked when they first thought their penis was too small.

More than half (54 men) said the problem dated back to childhood. That's when they had started comparing penis size with their friends, they said.

Previous studies have shown a similar time line, writes Shamloul.

Misinformation's Sources

A total of 38 men said their concerns about penis size began in adolescence, when they started viewing erotic films and magazines.

"Many men approach the issue of penile size with information based on pornography and misleading hints from their friends and colleagues," writes Shamloul.

The Surgical Option

"Penile augmentation techniques have been described in many reports," writes Shamloul.

"However, supporting data are lacking because no clear-cut indications have been developed," he writes.

The importance of before-surgery psychosexual assessment "cannot be emphasized enough," writes Shamloul. Psychosexual counseling is "very important for these patients to avoid postoperative discomfort."