Does Penis Size Matter?

Research on Gender and Penis Size Preference

Sami Sarkis/Getty Images. Sami Sarkis/Getty Images

Is bigger always better? When most people hear that question they either immediately or eventually think about penis size, and the more direct question that many men and women want to know, does penis size matter?

The reality is that sometimes penis size matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are those of us who have unique personal tastes (affectionately known as size queens), but others prefer variety.

Some folks might be happy driving a Tercel one day and an SUV the next. Another key piece of information when talking about how much penis size matters, is making sure we know we agree on what is an average penis size.

Rather than rely on old sayings, fashion magazines, and the hundreds of emails in your inbox every day, let’s look at what research tells us about whether penis size matters?

Does Penis Size Matter to Women?

A survey of 556 women between the ages of 19-49 asked participants whether penis length and girth matter. The findings included:
  • 18% said penis length was very important, 22% said penis girth was very important
  • 57% said penis length was somewhat important, 53% said penis girth was somewhat important
  • 25% said penis length was unimportant, 25% said penis girth was unimportant

A major flaw of this study was that it did not specify an optimal size. So women who felt penis girth mattered may have different ideas of what the ideal penis girth is.

The assumption might be bigger is better, but this isn’t confirmed by this study.

Another study, done by Canadians, had women read erotic passages and rate them on the steaminess of the passage. The only thing they altered was the size of the penis. While some respondents did score the larger penises to be hotter, the differences were not statistically significant.

Indicating that in a fantasy realm at least, bigger may not necessarily mean more arousing and penis size may not matter as much as other things.

While there have been other surveys that have asked women about the importance of penis length and girth, and most report that where this is a preference, girth is reported as more important then length, there doesn’t seem to be any academic research that actually addresses what size is preferable. If there were such research we could expect, of course, there to be great variability in size preferences.

Does Penis Size Matter to Men?

There is no question that men have a preoccupation with penis size. Most men seem to think penis size matters, and many worry about the size of their penis at some point in their lives. There have been several studies that have confirmed that men’s perception of penis size is skewed:
  • An Internet-based survey of 52 031 heterosexual men and women found that while 85% of women were satisfied with their partners’ penis size, but only 55% of the men were satisfied with their penis size.
  • Several studies that have asked men to evaluate the size of their penis, compare it to “normal” and then have actually measured their penis size, have shown that most men underestimate the size of their penis, and overestimate what is average penis size.
  • Studies have also shown that men tend to compare penises in a way that is likely to end up with negative evaluation (e.g. they compare flaccid penis to an erect penis).
  • One study of men who were seeking penile enlargement surgery found that most of the men had penises that were in the average size range, despite their belief that they had unusually small penises.

It seems from what research we have, that men think penis size matters more than women. Which begs the question, Why do guys worry and talk about penis size so much?

One answer is that we’re still stuck in this penis-centered idea of sex, where great sex comes solely from a man doing unbelievable things with his penis.

Let’s remember first, that lots of people are having great sex with no penis involved at all! And beyond that, heterosexual men should know that many women don’t orgasm from penetration at all, so most orgasms are not being produced from a penis of any size.

I think we still focus on penis size, because we still think that a dick is the measure of a man. And this is the worst misconception of all.


Lee, P. "Survey Report: Concept of Penis Size" Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy Volume 22, No. 2 (1996): 131- 135.

Mondaini, N., Ponchietti, R., Gontero, P. et. al. "Penile Length is Normal in Most Men Seeking Penile Lengthening Procedures" International Journal of Impotence Research Volume 14, No. 4 (2002): 283 - 286.

Stulhofer, A. "How (Un)Important Is Penis Size for Women with Heterosexual Experience?" Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 35, No. 1, (2006): 5-6.

Wylie, K.R. and Eardley, I. “Penis Size and the ‘Small Penis Syndrome’” BJU International Volume 99, No. 6 (2007): 1449-1455.