WHEN SIZE MATTERS: Penis size and women's satisfaction

See more on this content at Why don’t guys believe the data?  Love Scientist writes on Penis Size at WingGirlMethod :) 



Dear Duana,

I’ve been in and out of relationships all my life, and I’m worried my penis size might be why things haven’t worked out.  I know that good sex keeps a relationship together; there are other forms of intimacy, but nothing can take away the sensation a woman has with an endowed male. There is no need for a woman to look any further when her partner is good in the sack! I am not crossing my fingers for any positive remarks. At this point, I’m tired of worrying, and just want to know what’s normal and how much size matters, even if the news is bad. 

John Thomas (JT)

Dear JT,

Sounds like you’re expecting an answer that hits below the belt—and you’ve got company:  46% of self-defined “average-size” men are dissatisfied with their penile dimensions.  Fortunately, from every angle, your penile pessimism is larger than it needs to be. 

The Ball Curve: 

First, let’s define what Normal is—a Ball Curve, if you will—remembering that most men can get and keep a lover.  Actual measurements show that:

—68% of men possess peni between 4.6 and 6.0 inches, erect, with a normal girth of 4.8 inches;  

—13.5% of men’s penises are between 3.8 and 4.5 inches, and 13.5% are between 6.1 and 6.8 inches;

—and a very few (2.5% at each end of the distribution) are over 6.9 inches or under 3.7 inches long. 

Recent research by Janet Lever and others shows that women’s perceptions of their partner’s size may be more generous than the real-life Ball Curve!  To wit:

—67% of women say their man’s penis is of average size;

—27% say their man’s penis is large;

—and only 6% say it’s small

And just for fun:  Wanna know what body aspect penis size is most closely, but still weakly, related to?  Height.  (And men who think they’re fat believe their penis is small, probably just because they can’t see all of it.)  So Big Feet = Big Shoes, and Big Hands = Big Gloves…but not necessarily big anything else. 

Of course, we’d expect the smaller guys to want a larger penis—and 91% who self-define as small do.  Surprisingly, though, 46% of those who think they’re average and 14% of “large” men want one that’s bigger still!  

So: Size matters to men.  Many guys buy into the sales pitches promising Sex God status to the hugely endowed, apparently believing the porn industry’s unfavorable comparisons with mere mortals, and the seemingly resultant ecstasy the porn stars inspire in their onscreen lovers.  Sadly, 15% of self-judged “small” men even admit hiding their genitals during sex.  All of which implies that other men agree with you:  Women must think Size Matters, too—right?

What Women Want:

Amazingly, science didn’t ask any women until the last few years.  The answer?  Yes, There Are A Few Women Who Really Do Care—But Not Most. 

First, as Cindy Meston and David Buss point out in Why Women Have Sex , among women who have sex for the adventure of it, the top reason given is curiosity about whether different sizes make for different sexual satisfaction.  Interestingly, though, some women are disappointed by the Big ‘Uns: “It was probably one of the least satisfying sexual encounters I’ve had because it’s hard to hit the right spots when it’s stuck in one place.”  And a statistical few women require pressure against the cervix in order to have an orgasm—meaning they really do require some length, because during arousal, the vagina expands so the cervix takes 5-to-6 inches to reach. 

But the vast majority of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis size.  In fact, 84% of USA women are “very satisfied” with their partner’s size (14% want larger and 2% want smaller)—and a third are satisfied even when they define their partner as “small”! 

Upshot?  As Lever writes, “If the vast majority of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis size, then many men may be worrying needlessly about the size of their penis.” 


What To Do: 

It’s true: Women, like men, say they have sex primarily for physical pleasure, and we’ll often cheat on or leave a lame lay.  But as the saying goes, for most women, what matters most isn’t the size of the ship—but the motion in the ocean.   Which means that the royal road to being a Fabulous Lover is this: Figure Out What A Specific Woman Wants—and Give That To Her. 

How?  First, acknowledge these scientifically-validated truths:    

—Every woman is different in what she enjoys in terms of pressure, speed, amount, and even location of touching; and

—Women, unlike men, must learn to have an orgasm.

Then, apply those truths.  Understand that in order to bring a woman to climax, you’ll need to really, really listen to her and her body language to help her have an orgasm with you—no matter how large or small your size, and no matter how experienced you are with other women.  And understand that the motion in the ocean, for most of us, is best felt at the outer 2.5 inches of the vagina—so even the smallest men fill that bill, and if your woman, like most, finds the initial penetration the most satisfying part of intercourse, you can tease her with repeated entry.  Consider, too, that only about 20 to 30% of women ever have an orgasm during intercourse—but your tongue, fingers and toys work, right?  Also, keep in mind that a huge part of sexual pleasure for many women is whether the emotional vibe is right; a technically great lover who is emotionally absent can be an empty experience.  When we’re in long-term relationship mode, we women want your heart and soul, too. 

So—in short ;) I would advise you to understand that no man has universally got the endowment that women are universally looking for—but most men have plenty for most women.  And I will lay money on it that you’re among them.  Go forth with confidence and remember that your best sex organs—the ones women really want—are between your ears and within your heart.  Figure out what an individual woman wants, rather than what we all want—and then give it to her with love and enthusiasm.  You will be irresistible, and rightly so. 



If you enjoyed this article, please click “Share Article” below and share it with your favorite social media website.

Do you have a question for Duana?  Contact her at Duana@LoveScienceMedia.com.


Related Love Science articles:

A complete list of the human sexuality articles at Love Science is available at http://www.lovesciencemedia.com/love-science-media/tag/sexuality


The author wishes to thank the following scientists for their outstanding research into what men and/or women think of penis size:

Janet LeverDavid A. Frederick and Letitia Anne Peplau’s article

Cindy Meston’s and David Buss’ book Why Women Have Sex

A. B. Francken and others’ article

Roberto Ponchietti and others’ article 


All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2011


Note: This article was first published at Love Science in October of 2009, and is re-posted now while the author is on vacation.  

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Reader Comments (11)

Hello there, Wise Readers. I'm on vacation and will return soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the re-post of this uplifting favorite of mine, and add your comments as you wish in my absence. The Q&A is 'fascinating'--a word whose origins were derived from a phallic symbol worn as jewelry in ancient Rome. So come back next week!

so why do women talk about size? why do they find the men with bigger bulges so micj more exciting? why do they talk with their gfs about how big he is? and even accorxing to your article why do they report their lovers being bigger than they are?

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercarl

I have to say it's a bit frustrating to answer this question over and over, because I honestly think men aren't listening to the answer anyway. But....because I have my own insecurities, and greatly appreciate folks being patient with me about it....I'll say this one more time: Size matters. a little bit. but not very much. Really. Truly. Given a choice? Yeah, I'd probably choose average over dinky. But I'd MUCH rather be with a man who loves me, who finds me completely irresistible, who sincerely gets off on my pleasure as much as his, who is funny, and smart and attentive and with all of that going for us, the size of his penis would be irrelevant. It's a fact that the best lovers I've ever had the pleasure to be with have NOT had the biggest penises. The one man who can (and does with blissful regularity) drive me completely out of my mind with physical, emotional and spiritual pleasure is.....in all measurable ways....decidedly average. Go figure.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Like my Author title? Lol. Size in this day and age is all from pron. Plain and simple. But I understand that large phallic symbols have been around for millenium. So it seems that men have always had fascination with being "horse hung." JK. Most of us guys who please our partners well are well endowed as much as we need to be. But I must admit though, when the little woman moans, "Your so big tonight!", woah doggy!

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLittle g

Dear Carl,

Thank you for some great questions. Frankly, I don't have the answers to most of them~scientifically. But as a woman of no small experience in listening to women talking about sex, I have not often heard women discussing or making the remarks you're asking about.

My hunch is this. There is a statistically small pool of Size Queens among women, and they can be vocal about it. And given men's extreme sensitivity on the topic, it would only take a man once to hear a damning statement about size--*any* man's size--to presume that most women feel that way.

As far as why women report their lover being even bigger than he is, the science didn't address that directly, either. Yet I think a clue exists in the form of sexual satisfaction. 84% of American women are sexually satisfied with their male's member...so if they're satisfied, then it must be big or plenty big enough, right?

Any way you look at it, it's skill, not size, that is the deal-maker for the vast majority of women. And skill is just a matter of learning. And learning is what Love Science is all about. Thank you for the contribution!


Dear Anonymous,

Preach it ;).


Dear Little g,

Loved what you wrote. And you bring up a solid question: If women don't care so much about men's size, why have *men* always cared so much about it? After all, the porn industry and its bread-loaf-sized erections hasn't been around forever. Yet apparently male anxiety has.

Scientists are still wrestling with that question. They think it has something to do with men's competition among other men. Men live in hierarchy; there's an alpha wolf, an omega wolf, and everything in between in any male group. We all come from an African time and place very, very long ago where guys constantly saw other guys' peni, and men have apparently always assumed that the guy with the biggest dick is top dog. Or at least, that that's one aspect of top-dogness.

But that begs another question. Why would having a swingin' dick make a guy top-dog? Why would ancient art depict enormous phalluses?

I haven't read an answer to that anywhere, but here's my take. Ancient art often symbolized physical elements associated with fertility~and folks who had more children had higher status than folks with fewer, as is still true in much of the world.

For instance, from cave paintings to air-brushed mags, women are depicted with a waist 30% smaller than the hips...and it just so happens, those women are the most fertile.

So perhaps ancient art showed huge male members because *men* assumed a large penis brought more children, in kind of a "the guy with the biggest dick wins" thought process.

Or maybe men weren't conscious of the connection...but perhaps there truly *is* such a connection, and Genes are (yet again) expressing their preference to be passed forward by manipulating human mating psychology. After all, men and women were not consciously aware that the waist-hip ratio of a woman was a good fertility indicator until the past decade or so via science...yet those are the most fertile women. Maybe the guy with the biggest dick does win, Genetically speaking.

Ultimately, we just don't know...yet. Thanks for the most fascinating question of the thread.


As a younger man, I finally stopped wondering about "big enough?" when we had our first child. And then came our second. And our third. And our fourth (the surprise package). I had to acknowledge that average must be enough, and that was a very reassuring thought.

Anyway . . . a sawed-off shotgun is still dangerous when it's loaded ;-)

May 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Dear Tom,

LOL. Too true. :)


Hey gang, by nature, its only about delivering the protein package up high in the nest and letting the strong swimmers do the rest.
Since we are now evolved so far beyond the primitive, its now mostly about winding her up, finding her G-spot, and rockin' her world good and proper. My guess is the ladies like the whole concert, not just the drum solo.
BTW, my lady loves have appreciated my physique, chest hair, and keeping Richard and the Twins smoothly shaved ;) Take care of yourself, take care of her, and enjoy your life!

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter6-7/8

Dear Mr. 6-7/8,

"My guess is the ladies like the whole concert, not just the drum solo. "

That guess is empirically well-founded!

And--good advice.


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