Q&A: What Does A “Normal” Penis Look Like?

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QUESTION: I’m always anxious to show my penis to a new partner for the first time. Is it too small or too big; too curved or too straight; too thick or too thin; or just a weird color? What should I look like?

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Actually, yours is a very common question. Research suggests that many men and women feel anxious about showing their naked body to a partner. And that makes sense.

After all, your body is private and personal. It may feel a little scary to put yourself out there – physically and maybe even emotionally naked – in front of someone who you like and who you hope likes you back.

Penises Vary

It may help you – and every other guy who worries about his penis – to know that penises vary. There is no “standard” way that a penis should look. Just as men vary in how their ears, noses, chests and hands look, they also vary in terms of how their penises look.

Every one is a little different – even though in the end, they tend to work in similar ways. Some penises grow considerably longer or thicker when they become erect, while others don’t seem to grow that much, relatively speaking.

Penis Angle and Change With Age

In terms of angle, in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Dr. Kinsey found in his own research that erect penises may be curved, or they may point to the left, right, upward, downward or straight out in a 90 degree angle to the body.

Like other body parts, men’s genitals may change with age. Teenaged guys may find that their penises are still growing, often until around age 17 or so. And as men get older, men may find that their penis points lower than it did when they were younger.

Ask A Healthcare Provider

Most of these characteristics, while they might not be what you expect, are typical and healthy. That said, you should check in with your healthcare provider if you have painful erections or ejaculation, if your erect penis seems so curved that it would make intercourse difficult or impossible, or if you have any other questions or concerns about your genitals.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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