Penis Size, part two: No big deal?

Dear Duana, 

 My fear of not being able to satisfy my wife is causing problems with my erections. I am in my mid-forties and have been with my wife for 16 years now. Very early on in the relationship I read something in a journal of hers I wish I could wipe from my memory banks regarding my penis size.

 When we engaged in intercourse for the first time I will admit that I was not sailing with a full mast due to first time nervousness I would guess. So to get to the point what I read was that I was “kinda small,” this was written after she and I had engaged for the first time. There was also something I read pertaining to her most previous hook- up and her satisfaction with it stating that she wanted “good hard sex, like with (most previous), I think it was the size.” So about a month later in discussion with her I was told he was very large.

 Recently I have read a lot about average sizes and what women think, but I can’t overcome the nervousness when engaging with my wife. I do fit the average range weighing in at 5.5” length and 5” girth but can’t stop thinking about how I know what she has had and what I read indicated that if I were above average then she would be satisfied more so.

 All my life I have had a hard time dealing with being a disappointment to others in everything I do and therefore am having a hard time now dealing with myself and wanting to satisfy my wife is a matter of great importance to me. I love my wife and ever since we hooked up I have loved her sexuality and desire to the point that when I masturbate I can only imagine her.

 I realize that having this issue leads to her thinking that it’s her not [satisfying] me and therefore adding to [my] anxiety of performing. I or we need some help with this as I have never had an issue or problem that leads to lack of performance. All the information on what women like and sizes are good, but not enough to overcome my nervousness and at this point my confidence is suffering and leading to my worst fear of being a disappointment to the one I love the most. Help please.



Dear Richard,

Could you excuse me for a moment while I address our audience? 

To Those Who Are Attracted To Persons Of The Penile Persuasion:  The #1-most-read article here is about Penis Size.  The topic I get the most letters about is Penis Size.  The readers and the writers of that piece?  Are MEN who are worried about their own length, girth, and worth.  I have never—never, in nearly six years as LoveScientist—received a letter from a woman worried about her partner’s size!  And despite my article about Meeting The Clitoris, etc., and other evidence regarding peni, these otherwise logical men are utterly unpersuaded by facts.  Why? 

Usually, it’s not totally clear.  It’s logical to assume the online porn industry is partly to blame, as it instructs men through example that a) Real Men have huge cocks; b) Real Women respond enthusiastically and instantaneously to said huge cocks; c) Foreplay and the Clitoris?  Who needs ‘em? 

Yet men are writing to me from thirty countries, believing Size really does matter.  Well, it does—to men.  I still don’t know of an evolutionary advantage, but this appears a global matter.  And Wise Readers, if you know something I don’t about why men care so very, very much, please share! 


But take that fear and then add a comment—any comment—about Size made by a partner?  And you’ve got a disaster in the making.  Never belittle a penis.  

It’s hard to overstate how much men care about their size, and your perception of it.  Men will forget what you wrote about your mother.  They will forget what they overheard about your work politics.  They might forget your birthday, or their own.  But they will never, ever forget The Penis Statement.  No, not even if you were just making a passing comment.  Not even if you don’t really care about their size anyway.  Not even if you follow the statement with “but you are the best lover I’ve ever had.”  Unless the guy develops Alzheimer’s or has a stroke—and isn’t that a bit harsh to hope for?—The Statement is indelible. 

And although I have never received a letter or client call from anyone who ditched a guy over dong dimensions~if you don’t want the guy, guess what?  Someone else will, unhesitatingly and joyfully.  And s/he won’t want two or more decades of miserable-yet-preventable insecurity in the boudoir, courtesy of your insensitive remark.

*dusts off hands, puts away chalk*


Now that that lecture is over, let’s turn to you.  Richard, the road to hell is paved with overheard conversations and illicitly-read diary entries, but 16 years’ agony has likely informed you of that better than I can. 

My heart absolutely breaks for you.  I can only imagine how it would feel to be burdened every day with the fear that you’re not enough for the one person you truly love~the person you’ve committed to for life.  Although women put penis size far down on the list of what they value and seek in a partner, men just never believe it; you fellas tend to foist your own fears about size onto these intense emotions very few women have.  So now, based on something from long, long ago that you read, you are feeling insecure to the core of your manhood and your relationship.  And you have lived with this burden, this fear, and this sense of inadequacy and worry, for a decade and a half.  I can imagine little else that could be more emotionally painful for you!  


In my opinion, it is time to stop living with the shame and address your fears head-on by talking with your wife.  Richard, talking with me will only get you so far.  I can tell you about using sensate focus to overcome erectile dysfunction and reclaim erotic joy with your wife.  I can tell you about the fact that women are sexual with our whole bodies, that the clitoris is on the outside, that women focus on the clitoris when masturbating (which tells you penetration is not the end-all-be-all, or women would masturbate with penetration), and that there are a lot of ways to get your wife off that will satisfy her.  BUT.  I cannot tell you how your wife really feels about you, your sexual performance, and how large or small a role your penis size plays in that.

 In my opinion, this is a counseling issue.  I’d recommend revealing to your wife the details you revealed to me, in counseling.  If you cannot do that, for any reason, then it is really past time that you have the discussion privately with your wife.  I can tell you, as a woman and a wife myself, that if I found out my husband felt this way, I would move heaven and earth to help him understand how much I love and adore him, his sexuality, our compatibility in bed and out—and that although I love that part of him, of course, he is MUCH MUCH MORE than a penis to me!!!~!

 Please let me know what you decide to do.  I will help you with a script if you need or want one in order to speak with your wife.  But either way, it’s time to lay this particular burden down and truly live, joyfully, with the woman you love.






In praise of oral: 

From Allen Brickel: 

Wow, where to start with this topic. I think the main thing to be said here— and I think all men who love to go down on their woman will agree with me— is that this is the best way to know your lover, and, I think, the best way to build a LTR with your partners clitoris. Having one’s mouth on you, whether you are male or female, is a closest physical indication you will ever get to their undivided attention. When you are going down on your partner, that attention is devoted to giving them pleasure. There is no substitute—manual stimulation, in my opinion, does not come close. It is a clear sign to your partner that you are giving them permission to let go and trust you. And you in turn have to earn that trust by learning their bodies. Depending on how your hands and tongue/mouth are on them, their whole pelvis is in subtle motion, responding to you, giving you clues to their mood, what they like, what they don’t. Everyone is individually different this way, and not everyone responds the same way every time, the same movement may be pleasurable one Sunday afternoon but may be too sensitive early Monday morning, depending on what you have been up to, time of the month, whether you’ve shaved or not (if male), whether your partner feels clean or not… the combinations are nearly endless. The consistent problem with men, I feel (being one and all) is that so many of us want the “trick”, the one thing that will always work, the combination that is 100% reliable. To this I say: she is not a video game. Her physical rules change daily, and you will have to learn them anew each time. There will be general things she likes, but you’ll need to check in with her body, see where she is at, how she responds, and then give her what she needs.

From Tom: 

There’s nothing like a good word-of-mouth referral to make a man’s day.


From T:  

A quick comment ma’am,
My skill at giving a woman an orgasm jumped leaps and bounds after I took an A&P class back in the 90’s. I am of avg size and by no means special. I realized early on that some women are grinders…Only about 2 out of 10 women I have been with get off to penetration alone. As the years have gone by, I have become QUITE skilled at oral. In “short” pun intended. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
take care


Duana’s response:

Dear Fellas, thanks for the oral endorsements!  Women applaud you. 

And this, from Allen? “The consistent problem with men, I feel (being one and all) is that so many of us want the “trick”, the one thing that will always work, the combination that is 100% reliable. To this I say: she is not a video game. Her physical rules change daily, and you will have to learn them anew each time. There will be general things she likes, but you’ll need to check in with her body, see where she is at, how she responds, and then give her what she needs.”

Imo, that advice cannot be improved upon. Well-done!


From Carmen: —A Woman’s Perspective In A Lifetime Of Loving One Man—

Well, here’s a woman’s reaction to this wonderful column…I’ve been wondering when Ms. Clit was going to be addressed. I agree with Duana…Allen’s comment is right on-the-money…or whatever it needs to be on ;-) May I just say that, from the time we were married (yes, we waited; we’re not only old but we’re old school) my sweetheart asked me to tell him where the Spot was. I did. Need I say more? He was so excited to go down on me and find that special button…now let me point out that Allen is quite right. Not every time is the same…sometimes I was ready, sometimes I just wanted to cuddle, feel him inside my body, and bring him satisfaction & ecstasy. We gals are sorta funny that way…depends on the day, the mood, the level of intoxication etc.

I must point out that I found the button when I was a child…about 6 years old. I knew nothing of Sex, I just knew it felt good. That’s just the way we’re made, guys. And I was never a Passion Flower…all the columns about teenagers having a problem controlling their hormones are a foreign language to me. I loved Romance. Cuddling. Kissing. I was never, ever Hot to Trot, much to the dismay of several guys who thought I was. I was outgoing & friendly & comfortable with touching….OK, I was a flirt. But when I fell in love with my soul-mate, Katie Bar the Door…I finally knew how it felt to Want someone.

We’re oldsters now, my sweetie has Parkinson’s. But we are still intimate. Penetration is seldom successful….but, oh my, there are SO many ways we can make love!!! And it feels SO GOOD. Thanks to Ms. Clit, I enjoy our times together…and I know his Spots as well. He’s quite sensitive, as he was born at home, not circumcised. Talk about nerve endings!!!

Thank you Dr. Duana, for finally addressing a very important part of pleasurable intimacy, and for helping all those guys out there realize why size really, really does NOT MATTER.


Duana’s response: 

Carmen, thank you, thank you, for a fantastic post! May you and your Sweetie enjoy living and loving for yet many more years.


From GC: —A ‘Blanket’ Statement—

Simple, every man should know this fact about women period. I know it’s a blanket statement but if a man has paid attention to all the romantic interludes and to all the partners and to all the porn videos, it would be quite evident that Ms. Clitoris holds the key for extreme pleasure at multiple levels. Tip - Don’t use the fingertip, use the second part of the finger after the finger tip joint. Softer and less likely to accidentally lacerate with the finger nail.


Duana’s response: 

GC, excellent tip and ‘blanket statement’, but I do have to ask what porn you know of that teaches how give pleasure to women, though. ? Porn is often credited with fostering men’s ignorance and insecurity. Ignorance, by showing—over and over and over and over and over—that women respond, always and immediately, to heavy thrusting with little or no clitoral stimulation; insecurity, by showing men with peni the size of a fire extinguisher.

The implicit message? “If Your Dick Is Huge, She Will Come. (And if she doesn’t come, you’re too small.)” I cannot tell you how often I hear from men who watch porn and are dissatisfied with their size and their partner’s responsiveness. Research I’ve written about before would indicate there is probably a causal connection there—not merely correlational. My hypothesis? Watching porn causes men to feel worse about themselves, not just about their real-life partner.

Which makes me wonder: Where is the porn that shows women’s sexuality—responsive slowly, to gentle and consistent clitoral attention and just a regular penis if any at all—accurately? And does this porn show average-size (about 5 -inch) guys’ peni?


From Vincent: —Thanks for the info—

Well, Dr D, your humorous preciseness on sensitive information is truly ingenious! I always try to make sure I satisfy my partner before myself, figuring I am being above board, courteous and all that stuff. Now I feel armed, or maybe fingered, into being even better at that.

Duana’s response: —On The Generosity Of Men—

Dear Vincent, hi! Nice to hear from you. Thank you; your sense of humor is not so bad either. You’re expressing something a lot of men have written to me in private—the desire to provide great pleasure to The Other before The Self. That is indeed gentlemanly of all of you, and I think I can safely speak for many and perhaps most women when I say:

We appreciate your desire to please, your chivalrous placement of female response at the top of the list, and your willingness to keep learning and loving!



Do you have a question for Duana?  Email her at, and you’ll get a confidential, personal reply.  If your letter is ever used on-site or in a book it will be edited for length and identifying details to conceal your identity. 

All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., and LoveScience Media, 2012, 2014.




Related LoveScience articles:

The Clitoris article:

The Penis Size article:

The Penis Size Q&A:


The author wishes to thank the following scientists and sources:

Mary Roach, author of Bonk: The curious coupling of science and sex, for her third chapter wherein she talks about the percentage of women who come during intercourse, the distance of the Clitoris from the urethra, and its relationship to female orgasm during intercourse.  Her interviews with Kim Wallen regarding the ‘rule of thumb’ (clitoral distance from urethra) in this article are a must-read. 

If you lack the funds for a basic human sexuality textbook, this Wikipedia article and all the other related ones linked above on The Clitoris are really good:  Note that several studies show that 70-80% of human women require clitoral stimulation (fingers, tongues)—not only thrusting of a penis—to come.  The many human sexuality books and research summaries I own agree. 

If you have the funds, a new or used copy of any of the following human sexuality texts would be a great purchase; if you don’t have the funds, people do sell these for cheap on Craigslist and other person-to-person online sources:

Human Sexuality, 8th edition, by Spencer A. Rathus et al.; see pages 259-260 for specific information found by Kinsey and Masters & Johnson regarding women’s masturbation techniques.

Understanding Human Sexuality, 11th edition, by Janet Shibley Hyde & John D. Delamater.  The description of the many similarities between the clitoris and the penis on pages 64-65 are worth a read, as is the rest of the book.

Our Sexuality, 11th edition, by Robert Crooks & Karla Baur

And if you want a great sex manual, my favorite is Paul Joannides’The Guide To Getting It On  (The linked edition comes out this October, but there are earlier editions if you just can’t wait!)

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Reader Comments (4)

Re. "...I have never received a letter or client call from anyone who ditched a guy over dong dimensions...."

Here's an interesting documentary on the subject. After his marriage proposal is rejected due to his small penis (that was the reason she gave), the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find out if size matters.

UnHung Hero

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHal

Hal, thank you. I will watch with interest!

October 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Hal, I watched "unhung hero" and I must thank you for introducing me to it! My fave moments were the ones where Dan Savage got interviewed (see 10 min prior to film's end), and where the director's girlfriend Kassia gave her opinion just as they started dating (7 min 30 sec before film's end):

"I didn't mind his little dick, I minded his attitude about his little dick." ~Dan Savage (noted sex columnist, who also said his straight gf's don't talk about men's size--exactly as I have found)

"It's not all about your dick."~Kassia

Yep. It's about an entire person, an entire relationship, and a lot of attitude.

Now get out there and work on that attitude, guys. And women~never belittle a penis. In fact, let's avoid belittling anything. Love is the thing.

October 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

This woman clearly doesn't read your column.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHal
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