What does a normal penis look like?

We asked Dr Ranj Singh, a television presenter, author, columnist and former NHS clinician who used to work as a specialist in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, all those squeamish questions about what a healthy penis should look like so you don’t have to.

The Mix would like to thank the sexual health experts at Brook for their support with this article.

What penis size is normal?

Put down the ruler (the length of a flaccid penis isn’t going to be accurate anyways). Stop thinking ‘What does a normal penis look like?’ or googling Penis enlargement surgery. Want the truth? In all likelihood, you’re totally of average penis size.

Worrying about the size of your penis comes with the territory. The typical penis size is often exaggerated, meaning many people put pressure on themselves to measure up. Also, it’s worth remembering that your penis and testicles start growing during puberty and might not stop growing until the age of 21. So checking them daily, or even monthly, is pretty much pointless.

What is a healthy penis shape?

What does a penis look like? Well, penises can be lots of different shapes. Some are wider from base to tip, and others might be wider or narrower at different points. There’s no one way that a penis has to look. As long as it’s working well – you’re all good.

What colour should my penis be?

A healthy penis can be many different colours and can change colour too, depending on blood flow at any given time. But if you do spot a significant change in colour, it’s worth speaking to your GP for some advice, diagnosis or treatment. It could be one of the sexually transmitted infections or nothing, either way it’s better to be safe than sorry.

My penis is bent, what should I do?

If you’re leaning a bit to the right or left, that doesn’t mean your penis is broken. So there’s no need to start asking google ‘What does a normal penis look like?’

“Bendy willies can be normal,” says Dr Ranj. “Especially if it’s always been that way. As long as you’ve always had it, and it doesn’t hurt, then it’s nothing to worry about.”

However, if you’ve randomly developed a bend and it’s painful to get an erection, it may be worth getting it checked. Peyronie’s disease, for example, is a condition where scar tissue forms on one side of the penis, causing it to bend. If you think this is you, don’t be afraid to talk to your GP. It can be fixed with steroid injections or a simple operation.

What if I lose my erection?

When you’re having sex, you might feel pressured to maintain your erection as long as possible (in reality the average time is 5-10 minutes). There can also be a stigma attached to not being able to “get it up”. But the reality is, penises are flaccid most of the time and erections can disappear and come back during sex, no matter how turned on you are. 

If you’re having regular issues maintaining erections then you might want to speak to a GP or a counsellor. For more information on erectile dysfunction, take a look at this article. If you’re specifically struggling when using condoms don’t worry, this is something that affects many people. For some help, you can take a look at our article on how to maintain an erection with condoms here.

The main thing to remember is that you have nothing to be ashamed of, and there are lots of ways to have a healthy, pleasure-filled sex life.

Help! I’ve got an involuntary erection

You’re about to jump into the pool or you’re hanging out with mates and, hello, an erection springs out of nowhere. Sometimes having an erect penis is great, other times it’s not so great. It can happen without warning and also when you’re not turned on. This is normal and it’s a common part of puberty, but we get how embarrassing it can be.

You could stealthily place your jacket or bag over your crotch to cover it up and think about other things to distract yourself. You could also try some meditation to help you relax.

To feel less alone, see our article on embarrassing erections and how to get rid of a boner here.

How long should it take me to have an orgasm?

The average time a penis can be stimulated before reaching an orgasm is between five and 10 minutes. But, remember this is an average. It can vary a lot and sometimes people won’t orgasm at all. We know that there’s a lot of pressure to “last” a long time during sex before you climax. Thing is, this’ll probably just make you feel frustrated or embarrassed if you come more quickly. So it’s best not to think about it too much.

Plus, there are lots of ways to provide intimacy and pleasure beyond penetrative sex. And if you take the focus away from achieving an orgasm, you’re likely to enjoy yourself a lot more

There are no normal penises in porn

What does a normal penis look like? Definitely not like the ones you see in porn, we’ll tell you that much for free. 

Porn can give an extremely false impression of average length when it comes to penises, and make it seem like you should be able to sustain an erection indefinitely. And pubic hair? Illegal! 

The way people are treated in porn can also be misleading about the kind of sex you and others are “supposed” to have or to want. Sex can sometimes be portrayed as violent, or humiliating and might be the furthest thing from what you actually want to do.

If you wanna know more, see our article ‘is porn real?’ here.

Masturbating

Don’t listen to what your parents tell you, wanking is actually a really healthy and fun way to explore your body. And it’s amazing for helping you find out what you do and don’t like (see Aimee in Sex Education for reference). So you should masturbate as little or as often as you like in the knowledge that it’s completely normal.

For more info, read our article on masturbation.

Ouch! My foreskin is too tight

Worried about your foreskin? Here’s a simple test to see if it’s too cosy for comfort. “You should be able to slide your foreskin over the head of your penis without it being uncomfortable,” says Dr Ranj. “If it’s too tight to do that, you can’t pull it back afterwards, and/or you have problems weeing, then you need to get it checked.”

Read our article on foreskin problems.

I’ve snapped my banjo string! What should I do?

Don’t worry, this is a common one. Your frenulum – the bit of skin that attaches your foreskin to your penis – is vulnerable to tearing, usually after an over-zealous shagging session. A ripped frenulum, or ‘banjo string’ can result in a fair amount of blood and discomfort. Don’t panic, but do visit your GP to make sure it’s healing ok. You should also probably steer clear of sex until it’s healed.

What does a normal penis smell like?

Penises all have their own distinct odour and they don’t all smell like Lynx Africa. But there’s a difference between a natural scent – which some actually find a turn-on – and a gag-inducing whiff.

To ensure you stay in the natural scent category, make sure you wash. Simple, but effective.

“It’s normal for penises to collect secretions and have smegma build-up.” says Dr Ranj. “Clean under the foreskin every time you shower and that should keep things smelling fresh.”

Find out more about smegma here.

If your penis smells fishy, or just plain upsetting, AND you’re cleaning it regularly, then it’s worth going to the doctors. You may have a sexual, or non-sexual infection.

Do I really have to show the GP my penis?

Understandably, the thought of whacking your goods out on a GP’s table can be a bit daunting. But, remember for them, it’s just part of their job. Plus, you’re likely to feel so much better afterwards.

“I really have seen it all,” says Dr Ranj. “Nothing shocks me. Nothing surprises me. You’ll get no judgement. Honestly, you’ll probably just find that you’re worrying unnecessarily.”

Read our article about when you should go to the doctor’s.

Next Steps

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By Holly Turner

Updated on 14-Nov-2021