Finally an erect penis study with some size! An analysis of the erect penis sizes of 1,661 sexually active men

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he eternal struggle of penis size studies is if researchers survey guys and let them measure themselves to get a big sample, their data is prone to measurement error and over-exaggeration. If they take the bull by the horns and have medical professionals do the measuring, it’s next to impossible to get a lot of men to volunteer (especially if they need to be erect…awkwarrrrd!).

A creative way to mitigate these challenges came about in a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study had men self-measure, which yielded the researchers a big sample size of 1,661 men. What made this study unique is that the researchers offered the study participants some extra motivation to properly measure and report their penis size; custom fitted condoms! Yes, once the study participants reported back their erect length and circumference measurements, they were sent custom fitted condoms based on said measurements–so it would make sense for them to be as honest as possible. Who wouldn’t love custom fit condoms? I mean custom fit anything is fantastic, but domes? How baller is that? Guys are increasingly buying custom fit clothes because they’re realizing the importance of fit, is there anything more important to fit properly than a condom? I mean, the stakes are pretty high!

The historical difference between self-measured studies and independently measured studies on erect penis length has been about 2 to 3 cm (i.e. guys self-measuring have reported an erect penis length about 2-3 cm longer), could the custom-fitted condom incentive narrow this gap? A histogram of the results using data from the study is below, along with a comparison of prominent erect penis size studies.



It looks like dangling the custom condom carrot worked! The mean erect penis length of the 1,661 men was 14.2 cm (5.6″), well below the 6.3 inch average reported by some well known self-measured studies and the 6 inch threshold that most people think is average. That being said, the 14.2 cm number is still 1.3 cm longer than the most prominent independently measured erect penis size study, which was published in 1996 and led by Hunter Wessells. The gap might be explained by men with longer penises choosing to volunteer or perhaps the men, wanting some extra room to avoid breakage, rounded up their length. My guess is the latter, because the average circumference reported was 12.2 cm (4.8″), which is actually less than the 12.3 cm average erect circumference in the Wessells study. It’s important for condoms to fit snugly around a man’s erect penis or else it risks slipping off, which can be disastrous. It makes sense for men to be very precise and honest about that particular penile dimension. Adding a bit more room to a condom lengthwise is not nearly as risky and may actually help avoid breakage (not leaving enough room at the tip is a significant condom failure mode). The smallest penis length reported was 4 cm (1.6″) and the largest 26 cm (10.2″). Most men in the study were between 18 and 39 years old and 82.8% identified as White/Caucasian.

This innovative study is noteworthy and improves our collective understanding of erect penis dimensions. The very large sample allowed the researchers to analyze erect penis dimensions across all kinds of different groups including race/ethnicity, age, partner type, and sexual orientation, which I will get into in future posts.

Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V. and Sanders, S. A. (2014), Erect Penile Length and Circumference Dimensions of 1,661 Sexually Active Men in the United States. J Sex Med, 11: 93–101

Wessells, Hunter et al. (1996). Penile Length in the Flaccid and Erect States: Guidelines for Penile Augmentation. The Journal of Urology , Volume 156 , Issue 3 , 995 – 997

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