Small Erection Size

Many men may feel self-conscious if they are “below average”.  However “smaller” is considered an erection less than 10cm (4 inches) in length (see below left).  One in 20 men will have “smaller” sized erection.  If this applies to you you’re in good company – over 100 million adult men[i] have a penis this size or smaller.  Only those who have a penis smaller than 3 inches (7.5cm) require treatment (see below center).


Penis Small.jpg

Men who have a “smaller” penis size consistent with what is shown on this page do not need treatment or enhancement  Studies show that 45-73% of men are not “satisfied” with the length and size of their penis[ii][iii], so this goes beyond men who naturally do have a smaller penis.  Gathering good information and becoming comfortable with their penis size is the greatest treatment for men with a smaller penis or men who feel their smaller than desired.    

There are two main conditions involving men who feel like they have a “smaller” penis whether they are “smaller” or even not “smaller” in size.  These are Small


First, let’s differentiate these two disorders.  Small Penis Anxiety (SPA) occurs when men are anxious about their penis being smaller than they would like.  Short penis syndrome on the other hand is a type of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) occurs when men become preoccupied and distressed about the anatomy of their penis even though the size is normal in most cases.  In fact, most men with short penis syndrome actually have penises greater than 4-5 inches long.  In some cases, these men avoid pursuing relationships for fear of how they will be able to perform sexually.  Men who have a smaller than normal penis (3 ½ to 4 ¾ inches when erect) can have a completely normal and fulfilling sex life.   Most men don’t realize that the female vagina is typically 3 to 3 ½ inches long.  So for men who are worried about not being big enough – they will be. 


Although 27-45% of men may not be satisfied with the size of their penis (a sign of short penis anxiety), only 1 in 100 men suffer from Short Penis Syndrome/BDD and are preoccupied and distressed about the size, shape (curvature), or uprightness of their penis during an erection.  Men with Body Dysmorphic Disorder like Short Penis Syndrome often also have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, or anxiety disorders.  Their concerns are almost always unfounded and if a man goes into his doctor for these concerns, more often than not he finds that the size or shape of his penis is actually normal.  Both of these conditions can be caused by men not having misinformation on penis size or making comparisons with other men – most often through pornography viewing.

Men often feel they’re “too small” for a number of reasons.  The first can be making assumptions about their “size” based on the appearance of their penis when flaccid.  As already outlined, the size of the penis during an erection does not correlate with the size of a flaccid penis.  In fact, men with a smaller flaccid penis may actually have larger erections than men with larger flaccid penises. 

However, perhaps a common cause is when men do a visual “guestimate” of the size of their erections.  These “guestimates” are often incorrect because of the vantage point a man has of his own penis.  When a man views his penis from above, it often will look considerably smaller than if viewed while facing a mirror.  One reason the penis looks shorter from above is the presence of pubic hair.  Pubic hair often “hides” a portion of that length – sometimes an inch or more depending on the length of pubic hair.  Since men mostly see their penis from above (in the shower, when dressing, etc.) – the perceived size of their penis is often shorter than it actually is.  Men will often have a better visual “guestimate” of the size of their penis by standing sideways and looking in a mirror and pressing the pubic hair and any lower abdominal fat away from the penis so they can see the base of the penis as it exits the body. 

In some cases, the appearance of the penis may seem shorter due to the tissues of the body that surround the penis.   One condition called penoscrotal webbing can make a penis look shorter as the scrotal skin is pulled up onto the penis making it appear shorter and the scrotum slightly larger.  It’s important to remember that not all of the penis is external.  In fact, significant portion of the length of the penis is inside the male body rather than outside.  A sizable portion of the penis is found inside the male body as an extension of the root, so some men who are “shorter” may not actually be smaller but simply have more of the shaft inside the body.  This is often true in men who carry some abdominal fat as the fat can hide portions of the penis from view – more so in boys and men who are obese.  In these cases, the fat that pushes out from the pelvis can actually bury part of the lower shaft of the penis, thus making it appear shorter than it actually is.

Online claims consistently mislead men into thinking that they are smaller than average.  In fact, one study[iv] found that men claimed to have erections 1.2cm (1/2 inch) longer than true measurements.  This shifts the “average” number higher than it actually is, and may be a cause for men thinking they’re smaller than normal when in fact, their comparing themselves to “fish stories”.

Under no condition is it necessary or healthy for men to “compare” the size of their penis to others.  Perhaps the most damaging comparison occurs in men who view pornography.  Male porn stars are often selected for “their roles” because their penises are on the upper end of normal or actually above average in size.  In one study[v] involving men who had small penis anxiety or short penis syndrome, the results found that on average, these men viewed pornography 11 to 14 times per month, giving them multiple opportunities to compare the size of their erections to that of other men.    In addition, this study found that these men first started having concerns about the size of their penis between the ages of 15 and 16.  In many cases, young men in this age range may not have reached their full adult growth and may compare the size of their adolescent penis to that of an adult male they viewed during a pornography session.  This can be the beginning of anxiety and preoccupation with their penis size.  This same study found that homosexual men were more likely to have SPA and BDD than heterosexual men which may be due to comparing themselves with their male partner who may be slightly larger in size.

Perhaps the biggest concern men who are concerned about penis size have is how they’ll be perceived sexually.  The first concern is how they will be perceived by their sexual partner.  In the study[vi] of 15,000 men that found only 55% were satisfied with the size of their penis, 85% of their female partners were satisfied with their male partner’s penis size.   So the “worrying” is often on the part of the man, not the woman.  Another concern men have is if their size will affect sexual pleasure in their partner.  Women typically have little sexual sensation inside the vagina, especially higher up near the cervix.  Since most stimulation is at the entrance to the vagina, the length of the penis has little to no impact on her sexual pleasure or response. 


Men who are “smaller” or simply below average in length often overlook many of the advantages they enjoy.  First, men who are below average are less likely to have an erection becoming impinged or trapped in the waistband of their underwear.  This entrapment can cause kinking and discomfort.   Above average men often report waking up from the discomfort of a nocturnal erection getting trapped in the waistband of their underwear.  When it comes to unwanted erections, men who are below average often are able to conceal the erection more easily than above average men.  In addition, they are often able to adjust themselves to a more comfortable position.  Above average men often find unintended erections more difficult to get rid of since the erection can continue to be impinged even after adjustment.

Men who are below average in girth have significantly less discomfort than above average men when using condoms.  Since condoms are designed to be safe for use in the majority of men, their “tightness” is often tailored to men that are below average.  So men who are above average (or even average) find that the roll of the condom at the base of the penis can feel “too tight”.  In addition, below average men have more space for free movement within a condom which allows more sexual stimulation (sexual stimulation can be decreases significantly the larger a penis is and the less room there is to move within a condom).  Men with below average erection sizes often find condoms more comfortable to wear and easy to use.

One advantage, men who are below average may not recognize is that they rarely have to worry about not being able to penetrate fully or “running out of room” during intercourse.  This can be especially true if their female partner has a shorter torso since this is often associated with shorter vaginas.  Thus a penis length that is below average is often more comfortable for her.


The best treatment for men with short penis anxiety or short penis syndrome is to actually know what is actually normal then accept the size of their erection as it is.  Since the majority of these men actually have a normally sized penis, simply knowing they are as “normal” as every other guy can significantly reduce anxiety and the outlook they have on their own bodies and male anatomy.  Hence the reason all the images of various penis sizes in this section. 

However, some men with a completely normal sized penis or even those with a “smaller penis” unnecessarily take steps to increase the size, length, or girth or their penis by using penis extenders.  Penis extenders usually consist of two rings (one goes on the base of the penis and the other at the neck of the penis) and are connected by two rods, one on each side.  The length or the rods are lengthened over time to cause stretching of the flaccid penis (see image below).  Other devices place a ring around the neck of the penis then tethers downwards to an anchor on the leg (penis pulled downward) or to a strap around the waist or neck (penis pulled upward).  These non-rod devices are not recommended due to the risk of overstretching the penis during regular body movements such as going from sitting to standing or simply twisting the torso.  Extenders are a form of traction device and are placed around the penis for a few hours each day when the penis is flaccid.  Discomfort is the number one complaint, and spontaneous erections may be constricted by the rings and become painful (and can even cause penile strangulation).   A medical review of these products concluded that most “growth” occurs from the swelling of the glans (tip).  In addition, most growth is seen when the penis is flaccid, not necessarily when erect.    Unnecessary stretching of the penis can cause microscopic tears in the penile tissue which could potentially cause other issues like penile curvatures.

shutterstock_505690057 - EXTENDER.jpg

Some men with short penis syndrome opt for surgery.  Surgery often stretches or partially cuts the penile ligaments.  The tighter these ligaments are, the more of the penis root stays inside the body (see image at right).  If these ligaments are loosened then a portion of the penis root can tip forward exposing more of the penis outside the body.  But results are modest, lengthening the penis ½-1 inch (1.4-3.2cm) when erect.[vii]  The downside for some men is they may find that their erections are not as upright as they once were (click HERE to learn more).

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MICROPENIS – When “small” is too small

True cases of micropenis (microphallus) are actually quite rare – affecting only 3 in 20,000 boys and even less adult men.  Most cases of micropenis are discovered shortly after birth.  Usually a penis that is shorter than ¾ of an inch in infancy is caused by a lack or shortage of testosterone during fetal development and can translate to a micropenis in adulthood.  Testosterone treatment early on resolves micropenis nearly 100% of the time.  However, for boys that don’t respond, surgical reconstruction can be of benefit – although this is extremely rare.[viii]  Micropenis in adult men is very rare since most men will have been treated with testosterone prior to adulthood to correct penis size.  Teenagers who are going through puberty should not be concerned if their penis is smaller than 3 inches until puberty is completely over.

In an adult, a micropenis would correlate to an erect penis shorter than 3 inches.  The image on this page portrays a penis of 3 inches in length.  Adult men with a true micropenis often have a “normal” looking penis that functions normally.  Sometimes the only issue with intercourse is that semen may not be ejaculated high enough in the vagina to increase the chances of conception, so sometimes couples will require infertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination to conceive.  In some cases, a micropenis is so short that intercourse becomes difficult.  From a treatment standpoint, adult men rarely respond to testosterone therapy to increase the size of the penis.  For these men, treatment with HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) has been shown to help increase the size of the penis.  HCG works in a similar fashion to leutenizing hormone (LH) that is released from the pituitary gland.  LH signals the testicles to make more testosterone.  Other methods include penile traction and/or surgical reconstruction.[ix] 

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[i] Based on 7.7 billion people, 57.7% who are adults, 49.2% who are male, ( and 5% of adults males with a penis at or below the 5th percentile. 

[ii] Arch Sex Behav. 2016 Sep 13. Characterization of Genital Dissatisfaction in a National Sample of U.S. Men. Gaither TWAllen IEOsterberg ECAlwal AHarris CRBreyer BN

[iii] Veale D et. al.  Am I Normal? A systemic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men, Sex Med, 2014 Dec: 115; 978-986.


[v] Veale D Sexual Functioning and Behavior of Men with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Concerning Penis Size Compared with Men Anxious about Penis Size and Controls:  A Cohort Study, Sex Med, 2015 Sep; 3(3): 147-155.

[vi] Veale D et. al.  Am I Normal? A systemic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men, Sex Med, 2014 Dec: 115; 978-986

[vii] Protogerou V, Penis ligaments: their use in "increasing" the size of the penis in penile augmentation procedures. Anatomical description in human cadavers and clinical results of a phalloplasty series. Ann Ital Chir. 2010 May-Jun;81(3):199-204.

[viii] (12/3/2016)

[ix] (12/3/16)

Images on this page from top to bottom include:

  1. SvitlanaNiko/ & joshya/ (modified)

  2. Logika600/

  3. Elen Bushe/ (modified)

  4. SvitlanaNiko/ & joshya/ (modified)