The Long and Short of It

True or false: When women are asked what's the first thing they notice about a guy, nine times out of ten they say "the size of his penis."

Answer: False. Way false. And it's not just because your unit is usually safely stowed in your pants. Women are much more likely to be turned on by more subtle things, like the fact that you make and hold eye contact or that you seem interested in what they have to say. Minty fresh breath counts, too.

Hung Up or Well Hung? Men, much more than the women they date, tend to be concerned about their penis size. Why is so much of men's self-esteem wrapped up in their packages? Dr. Jack Jaffe, a urologist with the Potency Recovery Center at the Northridge Hospital in Northridge, California, attributes it to the "prevailing myth about a link between penis size and manhood."

The fact is penises come in all different shapes and sizes. The consensus is that the average size is about 3 1/2 inches soft, 6 1/2 inches erect (with a 5- inch circumference). Whether you're a shower or a grower (see Bonus Vocabulary Extra), odds are you're within a normal range, as 98 percent of men are.

Pleasuring With Your Penis As for wanting a bigger dick to please your chick, the reality is women are much more concerned with sexual skill than they are with equipment. Bear in mind that women experience clitoral orgasms with much greater frequency than vaginal ones. That's right, clitoral -- that means outside and above the vulva -- and the length of your probe has nothing do with your ability to stimulate that delicate area. If you're still hung up on how to pleasure your girlfriend, maybe you're just poking with the wrong prong. As Cathy, 27, says, "I don't care how big or small his magic wand is, as long as he has a tongue that works and he isn't afraid to use it." (For further reference, check out the movie American Pie.)

Something else to think about: a vagina can stretch to accommodate a baby's head. That's pretty wide. Let's face it, nobody's unit is going to compete with junior's noggin.

Now, if you happen to be a gay man, you have probably heard some interesting terminology used among your friends. Gay men even have a term for those with a strong bias for the more generously endowed "size queens." Without the proper perspective and healthy self-esteem, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Here's a good rule of thumb for dealing with size queens, male or female: if your prospective partner is so fixated on size that you suspect they're toting a ruler, run, because the hole that is really in need of some filling is the one in his or her head.

Doctoring Your Dick Still thinking about a penis enlargement? Here are some facts. There are two kinds of enlargement surgery. The most common involves cutting the main suspensory ligaments that anchor the penis to the pubic bone. This allows a portion of the penis that's normally inside the body to hang outside, which may make the penis look an inch longer. The second type, which is often done together with the first, involves taking fat from the abdomen or thigh and injecting it under the skin of the penis to make the shaft thicker.

According to Jaffe, neither procedure has any positive impact on sexual function, but there are major downsides to both. The suspensory ligament holds the penis in place, and when it is cut, the penis is often "floppy like a wet noodle." In the second procedure, the fat injections can settle into "irregular shapes." In any case, the fat is usually reabsorbed by the body within a few months, often leaving behind unsightly bumps. Both techniques are relatively new (read: experimental), no long-term studies have been done, and most reputable urologists and plastic surgeons discourage them.

Since there's lots of money to be made in upsizing the penis, in addition to these surgical options, you'll find a panoply of penis pumps and prods out there. Put your money away. According to Jaffe, none of these have any real impact on penis size.

Little Helpers for the Little Guy Still not content leaving well enough alone? Okay then, here are a couple of safe little tricks you might want to try:

  • Lose some weight. If you're carrying a few extra pounds, some of that excess fat is deposited at the base of the penis, which can make your little guy look littler.
  • Get a haircut. Trimming or shaving the pubic hair at the base of your penis can expose more of the shaft, creating a very pleasing optical illusion.

But the fact remains that if you need a confidence boost, you should focus on the things you can really change that will make you more attractive to girls. Be considerate and kind. Call when you're going to be late. Buy flowers. The truth is, if men spent half as much time worrying about pleasing their partners as they do about their penis size, everyone would be a lot happier, both in and out of bed.

Bonus Vocabulary Extra! grower: a penis that doesn't always look like much, but once you start playing with it, watch out -- you've got a handful!

shower: (rhymes with grower) These danglers make quite an impression in the locker room, but you usually don't get as many bonus inches as you do from a grower (if you do, it's a shower and a grower).

hung: having a large penis.

horse hung: hung like a horse, that is, having a very large penis.

pencil dick: (a.k.a. needle dick): a small, thin, penis.

a dildo with a human attached: a person whose best feature is his penis. Also: living dildo.

eight inches: five inches.