Penis size is often a concern for men, who wonder how their length and girth “measure up” compared to their peers. For many men, penis size reflects masculinity and virility. They may worry that their penis is too small to satisfy the sexual needs or desires of a partner.
Sometimes, men perceive their penis to be smaller than it should be despite its normal size. This distorted perception causes them great distress and anxiety. The condition is called penile dysmorphic disorder (PDD).
Men with PDD have a normal-sized penis, but they don’t see it that way.
PDD is a type of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). People with BDD are dissatisfied with a particular body part, not necessarily their penis.
Experts estimate that between 1% and 3% of men have PDD.
All men are individuals, and penises come in a range of sizes. In a study of over 15,000 men, researchers reported an average flaccid (not erect) penile length of 9.16 centimeters (about 3.61 inches). The men’s average flaccid stretched length (which approximates erect length) was 13.23 centimeters (about 5.21 inches).
These are averages. Some penises are longer and some are shorter.
Despite reassurances from partners and doctors that their penis is completely normal and sufficient, men with PDD obsess over their “imperfection.” They might avoid sexual situations and stop socializing with friends and family. They might start having trouble at work and become severely depressed. Some men with PDD have contemplated suicide.
Feeling shame over their situation, men with PDD might seek a solution. Some try penile extending devices, filler injections, and augmentation surgery. However, these “treatments” are usually unnecessary and may cause more harm than good. For example, men who have surgery can develop infections and experience penile shortening.
Men with PDD are encouraged to have counseling before considering any type of penile augmentation procedure.
If you think you might have PDD, a therapist can explain penis size ranges, help you understand where you fit in, and offer strategies for coping with the distress. Therapists and partners can also provide reassurance about sexual performance and discuss ways to improve sexual self-confidence.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
“Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)”
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“Counseling Important for Men Complaining of Small Penis”
(June 23, 2019)
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Choi, Edward J., BA and Faysal A. Yafi, MD
“What Is Normal and Who Qualifies? Validated Questionnaires for Penile Size Assessment and Body Dysmorphic Disorder”
(Full-text. Published: May 6, 2020)
San Diego Sexual Medicine
Goldstein, Irwin, MD
“Penile Dysmorphic Disorder”