By Steward Loughlin, PhD
“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” Mae West said what women have thought since time immortal: the penis is central to male/female attraction. During the middle ages, men wore codpieces— falsies they put in their pants to make them look like they had large genitals. They also wore oversized shoes because most people believed men with big feet also had large penises. We don’t know if these accessories impressed the damsels of the day, but we know that the men of the time thought they did.
It’s Not the Size…
Men dwell on penis size. E-mail spam is laced with advertisements for penis enlargement creams and surgery. Urologists report that their male patients complain constantly about their small penises, even though the majority fall within the normal range. Most men also believe that women are obsessed about penis size and use it as an important measure of sexual prowess. In fact, most women rate genital size way down on the list of things they look for in a man.
The availability of online pornography and popularity of shows such as “Sex In the City” have brought a new openness and even bravado to sex. Even women talk openly about orgasms, kinky sex and men with large or small penises. Like men, many women say things because their friends expect it. For example, they may prefer a man with a small penis, yet say they like a big one when joking with the girls. The attractiveness of a large or small penis may be in the eyes of the beholder: a woman might associate a guy with a large member as being masculine and sexy or brutish and intimidating.
Does size matter? The answer isn’t a simple one and can vary. Most women have preferences about penis size based on experience (limited or extensive), size of the vagina and lovemaking style of their partner. Is it easier to reach orgasm during intercourse if you have a big penis or are your other skills more important?
Penis Size Basics
The world record for penis length is 13 inches, measured in the early 1900s by noted sex researcher Dr. Robert Dickinson. Very few guys qualify for the elite 12-inch club. According to a study by Lifestyles Condom Co. the average man’s erect penis is only 5.877 inches long, with two-thirds falling between 5.1 and 6.2 inches. About 17 percent of men measure less than 4.5 inches. The penis size reported in the Lifestyle study was shorter than those found in the famous Kinsey report more than 50 years ago. While the Kinsey study asked men to measure their own penis size, the Lifestyle study measured penis size directly.
Even governments overestimate male penis size. German urologists found that the European Union’s guidelines on condom size grossly overestimated the size of the average European male’s penis by 20 percent. Oversized condoms can fall off easily, which could lead to a new European baby boom.
According to Shere Hite, author of the Hite Report on Male Sexuality, the vast majority of men wished they were bigger. A survey conducted by Infinitethinking.com found that most women think men are too hung up on penis size. Over 71 percent of women agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Men seem too concerned with the size and shape of their genitals.”
Most heterosexual men have never seen another man’s erect penis— except unusually large ones in porno movies. So, they think they’ve been short changed. Consequently, many men resort to dubious methods of penis enlargement or even seek surgery. While many women have a more realistic idea than men of what constitutes a normal sized erect penis, they’re also influenced by the unusually gifted men in porno films. Also, to dispel and popular myth: there’s no relationship between shoe size and the length of the penis, but people with unusually large index fingers tend to be larger downstairs.
Internet companies have tried to stem penis anxiety by presenting bogus penis lengthening programs. Several companies sell nutritional products, such as zinc, to increase penis size. Unfortunately, no nutritional product will help the penis grow. Stretching techniques will work a little— but not much. One relatively effective surgical technique is to cut the penis’ suspensory ligament, which will make the penis sag more when it’s soft. However, this technique won’t increase the length of the erect penis and will make the organ unstable. Another ineffective technique is to inject fat into the penis to make it thicker. This will make the penis look bigger when it’s soft, but won’t affect thickness when it’s hard. Also, the body absorbs the new fat relatively quickly and the fat penis soon reverts to its old size.
Penis Size and Her Sexual Satisfaction
Does a man with a bigger penis make a better lover? More than 50 percent of women say size matters. However, that leaves the other 50 percent who say it doesn’t. The width of the penis is more important than length for vaginal sex. The vagina isn’t very sensitive, except for the outer portion (nearest to the outside of the body) and its opening. Also, the vaginal walls can expand and contract to adapt to the size of the penis. A wider penis can better stimulate the clitoris, while a longer penis reaches a part of the vagina with few sensory nerve endings. Although some women prefer to have sex with a man who has a large penis, penile length and circumference aren’t good predictors of how satisfying a sexual experience will be.
During sexual arousal the vagina secretes lubricants, the clitoris and surrounding tissues engorge with blood and the vaginal opening gets wider. Sexual stimulation (mental or physical) triggers the pudendal and clitoral nerves to increased blood flow into the area causing the clitoris to become aroused and highly sensitive. The clitoris is an erectile organ similar to the penis that also becomes engorged with blood and increases in length and diameter. The clitoris doesn’t become rigid because it has no way to trap blood. The clitoris is a complex organ that extends deep into the pelvic structure and contains about 8,000 nerve fibers— twice as many as the penis. It has no function other than sexual pleasure.
Less than one-third of women regularly have orgasms during vaginal sex. Orgasm occurs when a fully aroused clitoris is properly stimulated. It takes most women 20 minutes to reach orgasm, but only seven minutes for most men. A large penis may help the process, but a man better have something else in his sexual arsenal if he wants to be a satisfying lover. He must excite her mind and her entire body.
Women need more than the stimulation of a large, fleshy shaft for arousal. Maximum sexual stimulation also depends on social, environmental and internal stimulation. To many women, the joy of sex comes from the closeness, caressing and kissing rather than from orgasms. These factors are often more important to women than intercourse or orgasms, which is usually not the case for men.
Types of Sex and Penal Size
The ideal penis size depends on the sexual activity involved. Most women reported that fellatio and anal sex were more pleasurable with a smaller penis while they liked to manually stimulate men with large ones. Anal sex is more commonly practiced today than even five years ago. Unusually large penises can be very painful during anal or vaginal sex. Some men are so large that they can penetrate or bump up against the cervix during sex, which is painful for some women and pleasurable for others. Some women experience “uterine orgasms” triggered by cervical, uterine and cul-de-sac (an area between the uterus and rectum) stimulation during sex with men with large penises. The feeling is very different from clitoral orgasms and isn’t experienced by most women.
Several comments made on the Infinitethinking.com survey previously mentioned suggested that women who said they didn’t like large penises were delusional. One woman said, “If women say the size of a man’s penis doesn’t matter they haven’t been with a man with a big one!! Fabulous!” Another commented, “Penis size matters much less in terms of appearance than in tactile terms. When women say size doesn’t matter, they’re usually lying.”
Does Size Matter?
Yes, for most women size matters, but it’s an added bonus to a process that stimulates the mind and all the body’s senses. Satisfying sex is much more than turning on thousands of nerve endings in the clitoris with a large penis. That’s only part of the magic.