Micropenis: One man's journey from the smallest 1% on the bell curve

Micropenis: One man’s journey towards self-acceptance at the left end of the bell curve

By Carl Loreto, LoveScience Media guest writer


An 11-year-old boy sat in his room, reading a magazine article. It was before the Internet, and the amount and quality of information about sex and sexual relationships available was extremely limited.  As he read, his mouth hung open in surprise and anxiety.

It was worse than he’d feared. 


The measure of a man

The article, titled “The Measure of a Man,” profiled an active member of a swing club with a strict 7-inch minimum penis-size requirement for men. It wasn’t just the woman’s open and clear preference for men with large penises that struck this boy as he read; it was her equal dissatisfaction and disparagement of men with small penises:  “Sure, some of the well-endowed men I’ve known have been lousy in bed, but I derived a lot more pleasure from any one of them than I did from studs with puny peckers.” 

He didn’t even understand the concept of a swing club, but it was clear enough from the article that it involved sex with others.  He didn’t expect or hope to be one of those men who would satisfy a size queen, but he also didn’t want to be tossed onto a scrap heap for puny peckers, never able to date without fear and shame.

For the first time, the concept of exclusion and disqualification based on size was present in this boy’s mind.  His own very small penis was no longer just potentially problematic in unknown ways; it was a pitfall in very specific ways that might present themselves in life as unexpectedly as stumbling on this article. 


There remained, however, the hope that he would grow and catch up to the other boys in that way.  It was an expectation at age 6, when he’d first observed that his didn’t look anything like those of the other boys his age, and he began to hide himself from others’ eyes.   By age 11, with the rest of him growing like other boys but with his genitals having remained exactly as they’d been since his first awareness of them, expectation had shifted to less certain and more wishful hope.  Soon, he knew, social forces would overtake him and it would become increasingly difficult to conceal himself in front of others.  That would give way to desperation, if physical growth and development didn’t come to the rescue. 

They didn’t.


The measure of a micropenis:

 I was that boy.  I’m now middle aged, and all of my life, I’ve had an extremely small penis. 

 Most measurable human characteristics tend to follow a bell-shaped distribution when graphed.  Most people cluster around the average on almost any dimension, such as standing height, blood pressure, and IQ.  It’s also true of penis size. 

Studies and surveys of adult human penis size almost universally identify the average erect length to be between 5 and 6 inches (13-15 cm).  Most men are fairly close to the average.  One estimate places 70 percent of men between 4 and 6 inches (10-15 cm); another places 85 percent of men between 5 and 7 inches (13-18 cm). 

But there is also tremendous variability.  In one well-conducted study, the range spanned from a man with a 10.2-inch (26 cm) erection, to the far left of the curve, at 1.5 inches (4 cm). 

Like about 1 in 200 men, I was born with a micropenis—the medical term for an adulthood erect length of about 2.5 inches (6 cm) or less.  Likely caused by ill-timed or misaligned hormone releases during fetal development, a micropenis such as mine functions normally; it’s just extremely small. 

By definition, this means I’m at the far left end of the bell curve of the distribution of adult male penis size, in the bottom one half of one percent.


Does size matter?

We don’t assemble the physical parts of our mates and partners like a Mr. Potato Head doll;  we’re attracted to and find companionship or sexual satisfaction with certain people as whole people for a variety of reasons. There are both men and women who go shopping for body parts, but they’re relatively few in number. 

On the other hand, those who honestly say that size doesn’t matter are likely thinking of a man at the low end of what we might call the “normal range.”  But there are a growing number of studies that demonstrate a statistically-significant penis-size preference, with large and average preferred over small, and an evolutionary connection between sexual selection and the fact that we humans, the naked upright-walking apes whose ancestors lost most of their body hair 1.2 million years ago and began wearing clothing a million years later, have the largest penises among primates in both absolute terms and relative to overall body size.  

I boil down what I learned to this: it matters a great deal to some women, and a very small penis would be a deal breaker to maybe 30 percent; it matters very little to others, maybe 10 percent; and about 1 percent prefer a small penis.  Expressed more simply, size doesn’t matter unless it’s too big or too small, and those definition points are highly individual.  Yes, there is such a thing as being too small, but the fact of a small penis doesn’t have to limit a man to being a small person, even in bed.


How size shapes social and sexual experience

Because size matters at least somewhat, and because statistically, few micropenises exist— and thus, few women have encountered one or know how they would react—, men like me have different social and sexual experiences than other men. 

Take confidence, a characteristic that women consistently identify as being attractive in a man.  Men with larger than average penises report larger than average numbers of lifetime sexual partners.  They’re more confident to put themselves out there and take the risk of making the first move, more than those at the opposite end of the bell curve. 

All humans are unique individuals, but I have learned that men with very small penises have a common set of experiences, including humiliations in school, social, and dating situations, and a common set of fears and insecurities that we have to overcome.  Here I offer my story, reflected in the experiences of many who have a micropenis.


Growing up small

When I was six, getting dressed in a swimming pool locker room with about 20 boys my age, I first noticed that my penis was much smaller than any of theirs. I had no idea how this might affect my life, but I sensed that it would, and negatively.  I felt a slight sense of shame, hoped that none of the other boys had noticed, and first began concealing myself to the greatest extent possible. 

I didn’t dwell on this, because I expected that I would grow and catch up to the other boys, just as I expected to grow in height and weight to an adult body size.  I wasn’t afraid of being beaten up in childhood, and I could hold my own in a fight, but the fear of having my pants pulled down as a prank in front of peers was a strong and persistent one.  A child’s feelings can be as fragile as a moth’s wings.


At about age 10, a friend gave me a condom in its wrapper that he’d found among his older brother’s things.  Later, in private, I opened the wrapper and unrolled the latex condom, knowing immediately that it wouldn’t fit me.  I then tried it on my penis.  What had been a confident expectation at age 6 that I would grow, at that moment, shifted to less certain hope. 

The rest of me was growing, but my genitals not at all.  Rather than catching up, my observations told me that I was falling further behind. 

There was nothing I could do about it, but hiding was becoming increasingly difficult, with sports and other activities, and boys and girls my age were increasingly aware of each others’ bodies and increasingly knowledgeable about sex. 

I continued swimming, but wet swim shorts seemed to me an announcement to the world that I have a very small penis.  “Seemed” is the key, but I considered every swim with friends to carry a very real risk of announcing something that I didn’t want others to know and that I couldn’t take back once they knew. 

At age 11, “The Measure of a Man” article, pictures of nude adult women that I had seen, and popular culture references to penis size, told me that a lifetime with the penis I had might be a lifetime of judgments by others that I’m sexually inadequate. 


There was also the matter of high school.  One of my older brothers, seeing me emerge from the shower, pointed to my mid-section and said, laughing: “You’ll never make high school with that tiny little dick.”

The implication was clear:  a penis as small as mine would be noticed, and it would be made fun of by peers. 

Up to that point no one had made such a direct comment about the size of my penis.  I’d managed to hide myself reasonably well.  But the high school I would attend required boys to swim nude during gym.  It wasn’t just locker rooms and showers to worry about, but an entire class completely in the nude one week out of every four, for four years, 30-50 relative strangers all lined up for roll call, lined up to use a lane, and lined up to use the diving board, on display with nowhere and no way to hide.  The strangers were one thing, but I was particularly worried about my friends seeing me nude and learning that my penis was so small.

As with much of my journey, I was to look back later and see that my brother’s comment did me some good.  It was safe coming from a sibling, and it prepared me for a future of such comments by others who had no intention of being part of my life.  It prepared me for comments I would, and eventually did, receive about something I couldn’t hide and something I couldn’t control. 

What my brother’s harsh but honest assessment and critique of my penis didn’t prepare me for, something that he didn’t know, was that teasing by male peers wouldn’t stay within the walls of the swimming pool, nor even within the walls of the school. 

For the next couple of years, mere survival was my goal.  Whatever happened, and things certainly did, I knew that peers were teased and ridiculed for all sorts of things.  I wasn’t the only one, but my special burden was one of being judged for sexual adequacy and capability on visual observation alone.  Those incidents only served to reinforce my own longstanding internal insecurities and fears that began at age 6, longer than half of my life at that point. 


In those early- and mid-teen years, I learned that, because I was known by a large number of people for that one physical fact, if I wasn’t also known for anything positive, my life would likely suck.  We all have to work to distinguish ourselves in constructive ways.  I was keenly aware I needed to be able to change the subject or otherwise deal with it when it came up, or I would spend my entire life hiding and running away.


Sex from the left side of the curve: The curse of the puny pecker


At about age 16, girls began to notice me in a new way as I continued growing into the physical body of a young man, in every place and way but one. 

I began dating and I enjoyed giving and receiving that new kind of attention, friendship but with a strong spark of attraction.  It was exciting, but as much as I enjoyed the flirting, conversation, and excitement of romance and physical contact, I dreaded the prospect of the act of sex or even touching that would lead to that certain physical discovery and disclosure. 

Not so much out of respect, but more out of fear, I held back from pursuing any kind of contact beyond kissing at or above the neck, and holding hands.  Not only did I hold myself back, but I also held back my first couple of girlfriends’ attempts to go further.  Those teen romances ran their course, as teen romances do anyway.  Any step toward sex seemed a situation in which I would likely fail to please or otherwise face humiliation and ridicule, as soon as my penis was seen or touched.


The curse of the puny pecker followed me into my first full-on sexual encounters, and even into my first marriage.  In my mid-20s, spending a romantic weekend at a hotel with my bright and beautiful wife, we went for a swim that was to be followed by a stroll to the ice cream parlor.  She removed her suit at our room, but I tried to avoid changing out of my swimsuit in front of her. It was a form of hiding myself that I’d practiced whenever possible beginning early in childhood, all the way until that moment.  I hoped she wouldn’t notice this modesty.  She’d noticed. 

“Well?!” she said, looking straight at me, still nude. Avoiding eye contact, I quickly peeled my wet swim shorts to my ankles.  As I did, I saw my swim-shriveled penis and scrotum.  Raising my eyes to meet hers, my nervous but hopeful smile disappeared when I saw the look of surprise on her face.  She stared at my penis and said openly, loudly, “It’s SO SMALL! What if they don’t let guys into the ice cream parlor with ONES THAT SMALL?!”


After that marriage ended, I made the mistake of dating and having sex with a co-worker for whom I was just a fling.  She told friends in the office about my penis—that it had been a turn-off for her, and that our sex had been disappointing.  Word quickly spread, and it was again like being in high school, my lack of endowment widely known and always ready to surface in conversation at unexpected moments.  

This whole situation was a solid reminder: “You’re not like other men.”  No, I’m not, and I have had to take a slightly different path for that not to be a bad thing.


The blessings with the curse:  Becoming a better lover

What I considered to be a curse I was many years later to see as something of a blessing.  I did grow to enjoy nudity and physical intimacy with others, but I didn’t spend my teen and early adult years chasing women just to get them into bed.  I wasn’t a better or more respectful guy than my male friends, but the risk for me was too great and there had to be a deeper connection and substantial trust before I could have any kind of genital contact or knowledge. 

So the first part of that blessing was that I wasn’t scheming for sex.  The second and more important part of the blessing was that I was too young to be having sex responsibly and for the right reasons then, anyway.

The curse of the puny pecker offered this other early blessing:  I learned very quickly that vaginal penetrative intercourse, which isn’t the way most women reach orgasm anyway, could never be the main event with me.  I had to learn other things, had to listen, to ask, to follow prompts and instincts.  I had to use my fingers, tongue, and imagination, yes, but also be responsive to a woman’s needs.  I had to make intercourse, something I craved, an extra, a reward I might seek if she had been pleased well in other ways first.  Often, I found it very pleasing to leave my penis out of the action all together.  It relieved so much stress and pressure not to have to wonder if a woman was feeling anything with me inside her.

Even with my first sexual encounter, I knew that I had one strike against me by fate or nature.  I was determined to control what I could, and never to ejaculate too quickly.  By intentional discipline or natural skill, I could refrain from ejaculation for as long as the situation called for, and remain erect for hours, if needed.  I knew I might be referred to as a stud with a puny pecker, or worse, but I was determined never to be referred to as a two-pump chump, and I’ve been successful in that regard.


In my journey, one partner stands out as having helped my self-acceptance and confidence in ways that carried well into the future.  When I was 20, we had a brief romance lasting a couple of months, but an intense connection that featured many coffee-fueled, up-all-night conversations.  She was also the most immediately, intensely, and repeatedly orgasmic person I have ever known.  Soon after we became physically intimate, I practically apologized to her that I couldn’t offer her more depth and that I kept slipping out.  She smiled and told me sweetly that she knew it was small but that it made her very happy.  I could tell that it was true, and I still have one or two scars on my back from the wounds made by her fingernails.

I didn’t know that no woman would ever again find the intensity of physical pleasure and orgasmic response in bed with me that she did.  But our time together told me that it was possible, that my physical anomaly didn’t have to be a source only of disappointment and frustration, but that I might use it to produce just the right sensation in just the right way. 


At that point and from that time forward, I wasn’t merely trying to minimize failure in bed.  I set out with some confidence to be a giving and caring lover, with the size of my penis size a fact but also a nonessential detail.


Learning to reveal myself to lovers

In my early-20s and leading up to my first marriage, I couldn’t acknowledge and discuss the truth and penetrative limitations of my size until it had already been discovered—and then, I could only talk about it defensively.  I still couldn’t bring it up proactively, and disclosure, which I knew I needed to make, would be a continuing problem for me. 

It wasn’t until around age 30, a couple years after divorce from my first wife, that I had any sense of how and when to warn a new person in my life that I don’t have the usual, customary, and expected personal equipment.  Without providing warnings up-front, at the time of first sex in a new relationship, I’d seen nearly identical facial expressions and heard the same words, in nearly the same tone of voice: “Why is it so small?”  By that point, I should already have disclosed it, and ultimately, I learned how to do so with tact, even if the best timing was always a guess.


Why didnt I seek a cure?

In my mid-20s, a urologist MD informed me that I have a “micropenis,” the first time I’d ever heard that term.  I wasn’t referred to him because of anything regarding genital size, but he was clear and direct in telling me this.  He was equally clear that it was too late for the usual conservative pubertal-period hormonal interventions, and what he said about surgery convinced me that the risk of loss of function and feeling for what might be for me only an extra inch of length was out of the question. 

Today, phalloplasty is very common and the methods are more advanced, but it’s still not something I would ever consider.  Substantial cost and risking infection or never having another erection in order to get from the bottom one percent to the bottom five percent, to move only slightly toward the center of that bell-shaped curve and to remain near the left end, made the prospective benefits nowhere near worthwhile.  What I have is perfectly sufficient for the two main functions of the human penis: expelling urine and depositing sperm to produce children.  If the remaining functions are visual stimulation of a partner to arousal or physical stimulation during sex, then I’ve learned to accept that no one ever has or ever will describe its appearance as “impressive” or its feeling inside the vagina as “deep,” “stretching,” or “filling.”

I’ve learned that I can be an adequate and sufficient person, man, and husband, even with a substandard natural penis.


Becoming the man I am: early-30s to now

I remarried in my early-30s, and my wife seemed completely unconcerned about my penis size as a negative factor.  It was certainly less in her mind than mine, and certainly less a source of frustration to her than it was to me.

It was only then that I began to understand that the old shame and humiliations in sexual situations, and self-doubt and anxiety going back to age 6, could become part of my erotic life.  I learned to actively sexualize those feelings wired into me at a very early age. Much as some people find spanking erotic in adulthood, I began to use put-downs of my size from my wife—on my request, based on trust and a sense of play and pleasing—, as a source of tremendous sexual energy. It happened slowly, but it became liberating and part of authentic full sexual expression for me.


After having children conceived in the usual way in my mid-30s, many aspects of life took a back seat to the challenges and time commitments of building a career and caring for very young children.  Other than beginning to experiment with my wife with role-play and using penis extender sleeves, I can’t say that I gave the whole situation any new consideration for a while.

Then, in my mid-30s, the Internet came into general use.  Regular people started connecting with each other and having @something e-mail addresses, and a whole new world of information began to open up.


Throughout my 40s, I finally accepted my situation, and read widely on the subject of penis size and size preference, but also human sexuality more broadly.  At about age 48, I was finally able to discuss it, how I learned that similarly endowed men share very similar life experiences, and I even learned to have some fun with the fact of my size.  I could hear a joke or comment about penis size without becoming red in the face with embarrassment and going silent.


My advice from the left side of the curve:

Size does matter.  Yet my point is that for a young man contemplating his future with a penis that places him on the left side of the bell curve, or even at the far left end where I am: here you are; it isn’t a curse; it isn’t ideal, but it also doesn’t have to hold you back in life.  As a number of partners have observed regarding my physical sexual equipment, it isn’t ideal, far from it.  However, few things in life are ideal.

I spent far too much energy and effort in life afraid of discovery and humiliation, trying to hide myself, and unable to experience life fully and authentically and to learn from those experiences.  Instead of worrying that others would judge me to be an inadequate person because of my penis size, I should have decided early in life just to make myself into the best person I can be, and to work to make the world a better place for others.

There’s a saying that when a bald man walks into a room, all he sees is hair.  There’s some truth to that.   I’d tell him that some women find bald men particularly attractive or that people don’t notice or don’t care that he’s bald.  We’re all different, and some men are totally comfortable with hair loss and being bald, but there is a silent majority who are always conscious of it and for whom a set of unpleasant feelings about it is a constant companion.  I happen to have arrived at middle age with a full head of mostly dark hair, but I can understand the concern of the bald man who never talks about it. 

There are three final signs of my acceptance of my size.  In recent years, after a lifetime of running from being seen by others, I’ve spent afternoons nude on clothing-optional beaches.  It was scary at first, but I’m a strong swimmer and I enjoy the beach.  Although nude among hundreds of other people at a time, I loved it and became more comfortable each time. 

Second, after practicing yoga for about a year in conventional classes, I found a clothing-optional class in which most people, including the instructor, practice nude.  I greatly enjoyed the freedom of that nude physical expression also. 

Finally, after a decade of running and competing in some races, I’ve run two years in a row nude in a clothing-optional race in which most of the 300 or so other runners are nude except for shoes, socks, and sports bras on the more busty women.

Being nude among like-minded adults isn’t like being thrown-in nude with a bunch of teenage boys and very young men.  Nudists are about the most accepting and easygoing people that I’ve ever met anywhere.  It isn’t a matter of having no one notice that my penis is small.  People notice what’s unusual and out of the ordinary, and so do I. 

The joy is doing something I like doing and having it not matter, to me or anyone else, that I’m by far the man with the smallest penis present.


It’s not nearly as lonely as I once feared it would be at the far left end of that curve.



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Reader Comments (4)

I found myself rooting for him, cheering him on as I read. Whatever my own insecurities and perceived flaws, they have never weighed me down like a presumption of sexual insufficiency would, and must have for a man with an extremely small penis. It would be like carrying around a mountain of wet carpets. What saddened me in reading this wasn't that there was trouble in the bedroom as an adult, but that a boy so young would be so worried about the future. His time for innocence was lost to fear of rejection because of something he couldn't control but which others were certain to notice.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Julia, thank you for your compassionate response. I felt very much the same when Mr. Loreto first approached me with his story. Ultimately, his is a story of triumph, and I hope it will inspire many--both those who are growing up (or already grown up) smaller, and those who partner with them.

September 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Given the numbers, we all know men his size, without ever knowing this about them. Now I'm curious to know more about the women who love them.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGemmamari

Gemmamari, good idea. I know there are mag articles dealing with women's take on a one-nighter with smaller-endowed men. Not sure if anything's been written by, or about, the long-time wives and girlfriends of these men, though. There is science on what women want, and it shows that over 80% are pleased with their male partner's size. To the extent that women wish their partner had a different endowment, there are women with partners who are too large for them, and those with partners whose size is too small a fit. Slightly more women complain about smallness than bigness.

September 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.
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