What to know about types of penises
Medically reviewed by Joseph Brito III, MD — Written by Mathieu Rees on November 23, 2020
This article is a repost which originally appeared on MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
Edited for content
The penis is a male organ with functions that include reproduction and urination. As with any body part, no two people have the same penis.
The penis has two main features. The body, or shaft, connects the penis to the abdomen. At the opposite end of the shaft is the glans, or head.
This article lists some common types of penises, categorized primarily by measurement, and provides some related information.
Penises come in different lengths when flaccid or erect.
Estimates about average penis length can vary. For example, one 2014 study looked at the penis size of United States males. It found that the average erect length was around 5.6 inches.
However, another article suggests there are issues with many penis length studies, including the fact that participants self-report measurements.
These studies use self-reported data and are therefore subject to bias, which likely fuels the widespread belief that the average penis size is closer to 6 inches. In reality, the average is likely to be lower
Penises also have different girths or circumferences.
A 2014 study into the penis size of U.S. males found that the average erect girth was around 4.8 inches.
However, as with penis length, a person should note that many penis girth studies use self-reported measurements, which are known to be fairly unreliable.
Some penises are completely straight when erect. However, many have a bend or curvature. There are three main types of curved penis. These include penises that:
- curve upwards from its base
- curve downwards from its base
- curve to the left or right
Additionally, some people may have multiple kinds of curvature. For instance, some penises may curve to the left and upwards.
Penile curvatures are common and typically benign. They are rarely painful and do not usually make penetrative sex more difficult.
However, abnormal penile curvature can sometimes be a symptom of Peyronie’s disease. One review lists the following as possible symptoms:
- a thickened area, or plaque, in the penile shaft
- curvature of the penis during erection
- pain in the penis
- erectile dysfunction
Scientists are not sure what causes Peyronie’s disease.
One common explanation is that the condition results from mild, recurring trauma to the penis. This can occur during intercourse or masturbation.
Peyronie’s disease can also be due to a rupture in the penis, known as a penile fracture. Genetic factors may also contribute to the development of this condition.
Anybody who suspects they may have Peyronie’s disease should seek medical advice. Sometimes, people with the condition who experience no other issues, such as pain, could still use their penis for sexual activity without needing medical treatment.
In some cases, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the plaque or reduce the curvature in the penis.
The base to head ratio
For some people, the circumference of the base of their penile shaft is the same as the circumference of their penile head.
For others, this ratio is different. Some may have a penile head with more girth than the base of their shaft, or vice versa.
Circumcised and uncircumcised
A person with a penis is born with a retractable layer of skin that covers the penile head, commonly referred to as the foreskin.
Many people around the world have their foreskin surgically removed, in a process known as male circumcision.
A trained person may carry out male circumcision on children and adults, often for cultural or religious reasons. Doctors can also perform them in medical treatments.
Circumcised penises do not have a foreskin, which means that the glans is always visible. Uncircumcised penises have a foreskin, which often covers the glans, especially when the penis is flaccid.
Some infants can be born without a foreskin, which is a condition called hypospadias. Here, the opening of the penis is not found at the tip. Surgery is usually required to correct this issue.
Uncircumcised men can also develop phimosis, where the foreskin cannot retract over the hood of the glans. This can lead to irritation and infection. People with the condition generally require medical circumcision.
Because circumcision is a surgical process, it can sometimes lead to health issues, including:
- necrosis of the penile head
- cut to the penile head or urethra
- penile loss
However, people should note that this procedure is very common. Infections following circumcision, one of the most common possible complications, affect just 0.5% of people.
Many internet sources misinform and perpetuate myths about penises. In reality, they are highly varied, just like other body parts.
Anyone who has concerns about their penis can seek medical advice from a trained professional.