Let's Talk About Your Penis

Let's Talk About Your Penis

Why you should care

Because the size of your penis does matter, but for reasons you might not be thinking of.

In the illustrated first edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the protagonist’s classroom wall is graced with a classic saying — with a twist: “The penis mightier than the sword.” Maybe, but unlike sword masters, men are less concerned with “Will it work?” than “Is it big enough?” Which, though perverse, is the topic of the day.

So, let’s size this issue up, not beat around the bush and really get our hands dirty (okay, I’m done). First things first: does size matter? According to scientists, it does for one-night stands and for how attractive the opposite sex finds you, as long as you and yours are symmetrical — that means a 13-incher will not necessarily make short men more delicious in the eyes of the women they are interested in (men didn’t rate other men in the study).

But in terms of performance, size alone doesn’t matter much if you’re average: 5.5 inches (14.1 cm) erect, give or take an inch or two. In other words, Babe Ruth could probably still hit with a smaller teammate’s bat, but might have trouble with a ping-pong paddle. In the end, if you find yourself constantly fretting over this mostly subjective question, the answer is yes — size most definitely matters. Because anxiety is the biggest buzzkill around, says Tobias Köhler, an associate professor of urology at Southern Illinois University. If a man has anxiety, “it’s game over, cue the Pac-Man jingle,” he says.

Doctors may say, “Don’t stress” but we still gotta know: Can we predict penis size via foot size, the difference between ring and middle finger, ethnicity, the size of one’s ass? No, none of the above. There is no conclusive evidence for any of these being able to predict penis size. Sorry, people, the only way to know what that guy is packing is to, well, open the package.

And if you happened to draw the genetic short stick, there’s not much you can do to lengthen your penis. But one surefire way to shorten it? Don’t use it. Yup, in extreme cases of trauma or diabetes, men can lose one to two centimeters — a penis is like any muscle that gets tight when you don’t stretch it, says Köhler. It shrinks.

Chimpanzees, which share 99 percent of our DNA, have penises just half the size.

Other than the obvious, there are more reasons to keep your member limber. Penis size correlates to how rich a country is, more so than whether it has a democracy or dictator, according to research by scientists at the Helsinki Center of Economic Research. They found that nations with an average penis size under 12 cm (4.7 inches) are less economically developed. But, with men measuring above 16 cm (6.2 inches), Gross Domestic Product took a dive as well. So there’s a sweet spot, right around 13.7 cm (5.5 inches). Of course, many think the correlation is total nonsense, or “wild speculation that’s unfounded,” says Köhler.

But there’s still so much we don’t know about our penises. For one, why is it that humans have evolved to have much longer ones than their primate counterparts? Chimpanzees, for example, which share 99 percent of our DNA, have penises just half the size. Scientists have theories — that size is a measure of good health or just a practical necessity as humans stood increasingly upright and women’s vaginas became deeper, says Patricia Brennan, a research professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The thing is, studying penises isn’t exactly at the top of the budget debate raging in Congress right now. So, Brennan says we’ll mostly have to settle for an explanation that leaves a lot to be desired: evolutionarily speaking, “human penises are weird.”

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