Let’s explore the long and short of this question using math, science, and anatomy!
The Bare Bones of Math and Science
According to a 2015 systematic study by British researchers, the average size of an erect penis is 5.2 inches. The average size of a flaccid penis is 3.6 inches. Many research studies on this topic have been conducted by collecting data through surveys and self-reports. As you can imagine, self-reporting may skew results because of error, exaggeration, and bias. The British study is different because they gathered information from 17 different published studies. In these studies, penis measurements were taken by medical professionals and included over 15,500 men from around the world.
In 1966 Masters and Johnson published a study in their book Human Sexual Response where they gathered information on vaginal canals. One hundred women who had never been pregnant participated in this study. Masters and Johnson found that vaginal canals of unaroused women ranged from 2.75 inches to 3.25 inches. Vaginal canals of sexually aroused women, ranged from 4.25 inches to 4.75 inches. They also found that regardless of vaginal canal lengths, the outer 1/3 area of the canal was an important area for sexual pleasure.
If you do the math, it makes since that penis and vaginal length can make the difference between pain and pleasure. All is not lost!
The Anatomy of Penetration
The vagina is very elastic and can stretch to accommodate the delivery of a baby or collapse to retain a tampon. This is made possible because the walls of the vagina have rugae, which allow the vaginal walls to fold together and expand like an accordion, depending on the need. During sexual arousal, blood will flow to the vagina, causing it to swell, lubricate, and lengthen. These changes will cause the cervix to tip and help the vagina receive penetration without discomfort or pain. If you’ve ever heard a person say, “It felt like my cervix was being hit with a battering ram with every thrust!” This could indicate a lack of arousal, the penis was too long, the vaginal canal was too short, or a combination of the 3 scenarios.
If you or your partner experience pain during penetrative sex – STOP what you’re doing, try something different, and consult your doctor if the problem persists to rule out medical causes.
The Point of Partnered Sex
The journal of Psychology of Men & Masculinity published a 2006 internet study on how heterosexual men and women view penis size. The researchers surveyed 52,031 people and found that 45% of men wanted to have a larger penis, while 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size. This could create a difference of opinion between heterosexual partners.
In partnered sex, conversation and individual preference is important for sexual satisfaction. There are 6 sexual health principles, adapted from the World Health Organization (Braun-Harvey, 2009), that I use with my clients to enhance their sexual relationship. The following 6 principles can provide a springboard for conversations about sexual activity, function, pleasure, and relationship:
3. Protection from STIs and Unintended Pregnancy
5. Shared Values
6. Mutual Pleasure
The Big Climax
Does size really matter? I'm going to leave that up to you. Why not discuss the question with a sexual partner and see what comes up? After all, the point of partnered sex is not all about you. It’s about sharing a pleasurable experience with someone you trust.
I enjoy working with individuals and partners to help them have a pleasurable sex life. Explore my website and see if I can help you with your sexual needs.
Yvette Massey, MA, LPC, CST
Eggplant -Photo by Anna Tarazevich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/eggplant-in-close-up-shot-5620887/
Veale D, Miles S, Bramley S, Muir G, Hodsoll J. Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15,521 men. BJU Int. 2015 Jun;115(6):978-86. doi: 10.1111/bju.13010. Epub 2015 Mar 2. PMID: 25487360.
Masters and Johnson's Human Sexual Response (1966).
Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., & Peplau, L. A. (2006). Does size matter? Men's and women's views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7(3), 129–143.
Braun-Harvey, 2009. Six Principles of Sexual Health | The Harvey Institute
Yvette Massey, MA, LPC, CST
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist located in San Antonio, TX. I am currently accepting new clients living in Texas for Telehealth sessions. Visit my other web pages to find out more about me and my practice.