Doubtful men with big penises are underestimating their own penis size, highlighting the unrealistic size standards to which many penis-havers hold themselves
Throughout the most formative years of his sex life, Reddit user IcelandicMechanic believed his penis was small. A 27-year-old IT consultant living in Aarhus, Denmark, IcelandicMechanic says the women he bedded in his teens and early twenties were complimentary to his member, but it didn’t matter.
Thanks in large part to porn, which he says “warped” the way he perceived his package, IcelandicMechanic was sure that his partners’ words were “pure flattery and just dirty talk.” The remarks did nothing to boost his compromised self confidence. Then, at age 21, while having sex with his then-girlfriend, she pointedly told him she didn’t enjoy intercourse with him. The reason? His penis was too big; her vagina and his johnson were not, according to her, “compatible yet.”
“I had to slow down and let her get adjusted to me if we were to continue,” he says.
Something in the way she insisted that his bulge was bodacious motivated him to measure it. He used the “bone-pressed method,” where a person with a penis takes a ruler or tape measure, pushes it into their crotch until the pubic bone stops its progress, and then measures the penis along its side, base to tip. He logged his girth by wrapping tailor’s tape around the widest portion of his shaft.
IcelandicMechanic — who, if you haven’t figured this out already, asked to conceal his real name out of understandable privacy concerns — says his erect penis is seven inches long. Girth? 5.7 inches.
With help from the internet’s Penis Percentile Calculator, a widely used tool among Redditors who discuss penis size, of which there are quite a few, IcelandicMechanic’s measurements put him in the 98th percentile. So, yeah, he’s big.
For IcelandicMechanic, being more informed about his penis size has made sex a far more pleasurable experience. Previously, he says he actually preferred masturbation to intercourse. “My self confidence is much better today, because I know that I’m more well-off than others,” he types in a Reddit message.
But IcleandicMechanic is hardly the only man to have presumed his penis small — and, thus, in his mind “inadequate” — before realizing it was at least average-sized or larger. Many live with this misperception, which can be harmful to the ego and generate emotional scars that last even beyond its correction.
Before I go any further, allow me to state without equivocation that there is nothing wrong with having a below-average-sized penis. Most women do not achieve orgasm from penetrative sex alone, so in that regard it’s arguable that size does not matter. If their penis-packing partner’s unit is on the small side of the spectrum, different positions can make penetrative sex more pleasurable for people with a vagina. There’s also oral sex, foreplay and many other kinds of non-penetrative sex acts in which the penis (regardless of size) doesn’t take center stage. Not to mention, there are plenty of people who genuinely prefer a more modest-sized member.
All this to say, I am not here to shame small penises; I’ve shown them love elsewhere. Instead, I wish to point out the unhealthy fixation many men have with penis size, and how any inclination that their manhood is substandard can trigger actual mental health disorders. For those men, the math literally does not add up. And to further prove this is a widespread issue, I’d like to offer that in my near-decade as a journalist, I have never received a greater number of responses to calls for interview subjects than I did after posting a few of them for this story on Reddit. As I write this, I’m fielding more messages from willing interviewees, thanking them for their time but declining their participation; I’ve got a deadline to hit.
Despite all the data IcelandicMechanic has accrued about the size of his penis, it hasn’t been enough to ward off doubts about its sexual viability. He says these doubts “creep back in often” and “it’s like an imposter syndrome.”
“I sometimes still get in the habit of comparing myself to porn and other Redditors with massive penises,” he adds.
Like just about all the other men I spoke to, IcelandicMechanic points to porn consumption as the cause for his penis-perspective woes. (I don’t want to diagnose anyone, but much of what he and others tell me sounds like they could be dealing with penile dysmorphic disorder, a type of body dysmorphic disorder that centers around penis size and shape.) However, he mentions another cultural factor as well.
“Honestly it might [come] down to something deeply rooted in the Danish mentality,” he writes. “We have something called ‘Janteloven,’ where we are sort of expected to be just a part of the greater collective, and not to be special.”
One Asian American, whose family originated in India, tells me that, growing up, he presumed his penis was small because of his ethnicity. Kids of different backgrounds didn’t see his penis and make fun of it. Rather, his worries stemmed from Asian American peers of his constantly making self-effacing jokes about the small size of penises in their own community.
“Reg,” as the 24-year-old software developer from Seattle asked to be called, says that attitude may have been influenced by recently denounced portrayals of Asian Americans in media, which have seen Asian males in particular desexualized and emasculated throughout American culture.
But when Reg measured his penis a few years ago, he found that it was about six inches long, which places him in the 76th percentile, with a four-and-a-half-inch girth putting him in the 45th percentile. Armed in his early twenties with what he ultimately considered an overall “average” penis, he grew more confident, took to Tinder and started having sex for the first time.
Sometimes “average” still isn’t enough for Reg, though.
“Because you’re not above average you kind of feel like you have to compensate by being really good at everything else or, like, last a long time [by] staying hard forever,” Reg tells me. “There’s a lot of pressure. It feels like you might have more leeway if you’re above average; you can kind of get away with more.”
These types of feelings dog men who are larger than Reg, too, some of whom also happen to be in long-term relationships with women who actively communicate their contentment with their partner’s size.
A 25-year-old New Englander who asked to be called “Nick” says he, too, measured his penis after his girlfriend, now of six years, asserted he was big. His length of 6.75 inches puts him in the 96th percentile, which inspired newfound confidence. But he still finds it hard to believe his schlong is so impressive.
Nick traces his insecurity back to a remark his girlfriend made early in their relationship. She mentioned that she’d once interacted with another guy via text, who boasted of his very large penis. He then sent her a dick pic, which seemed to confirm his well-hung status.
She and the dick-pic sender never had sex, and there was no certainty Nick’s girlfriend would have even enjoyed the oversized dong — many don’t. Still, that memory of his girlfriend getting the big dick pic bothers him to this day.
“As much as women say it doesn’t matter, there’s just this innate thing that makes it matter to us,” Nick says about men and penis size.
“Jim” — another pseudonym — has been married for three decades, says he and his wife have always enjoyed a great sex life, and that his penis ranks in the 99th percentile in terms of length (7.25 inches) and the 96th when it comes to girth (5.5 inches). Until two years ago, before he measured it and punched his findings into the Penis Percentile Calculator, he believed his penis was small.
“Even at this point I look at those numbers on that site and I’m like, ‘Eh, I think that they’re just not getting all the info that’s out there,’” says Jim, aware that his perspective is off-kilter, given all the research he’s done. “I’m sad to say how much time I’ve spent on this stupid subject.”
As good as sex with his wife was before, Jim says the realization has moved their sex life into an even higher stratosphere. “It’s a turn on that you know you’re ‘giving it to her good,’ so to speak,” Jim says.
Awareness about the relative size of one’s penis can even help those who never thought it was lacking. A 43-year-old engineer from Australia, who asked to be referred to as “Bill,” says he long thought his penis was about average — again because of what he believed he was seeing in porn, which is not at all an accurate barometer. Bill even once earned a summer camp nickname, “The Gaff,” when, shortly after he and his mates heard a lecture on the parts of a flagpole, he dozed off in his bunk and got a sizable stiffy.
“I put that and other similar episodes down to young guys being silly and making stuff up just to pick on each other,” he says in an email. “Maybe I should have paid closer attention.”
But Bill’s 7.5-inch-long package with a 6.3-inch girth puts him in the 99th percentile across the board. Past sexual troubles emerged from unknowingly strapping on ill-fitting condoms that he says caused bruise-like rings around his shaft and were very difficult to take off. (IcelandicMechanic complained about similar past episodes of soreness from condoms, too.) Bill says a better understanding of what he’s packing has “changed the way I look at myself as a sexual being and masculine form.”
“It isn’t a great factor in defining my sex life,” he continues, “but I can feel confident that my penis size will be, shall we say, appreciated for what it is.”
If he has any problems now, it’s in finding sex toys, like cock rings, that fit him, not to mention — like IcelandicMechanic — compatible vaginas.
“I have also had bad sex because we were not physically matched, let’s say,” writes Bill. “Sometimes the anxiety women experience due to the idea a large penis can cause them harm is enough to make sex bad.”
There ultimately is no “bad” when it comes to understanding facts, though. Even if they’re unfavorable or undesired — whether they’re about penises or, say, presidential election results — truths help us make the best possible choices in how we interact with others and perceive ourselves.
So, in the case of informing people with penises about the relative size of what they stuff into their underwear, thank goodness for the internet.