Are penises getting longer?

New research suggests the average penis length has increased over the last few decades. Does it matter?

How long is the average penis? That’s a question that most penis owners have pondered at one time or another, wondering if their own penis was above (or below) average. A new study shows that the answer to that question has changed—researchers looking at penis length found that the average length of an erect penis increased 24% over the past 29 years.

Apparently, penises are getting longer

The results of this study, published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, showed that the average erect penis length went from 4.8 inches in 1992 to 6 inches in 2021. The researchers looked at 75 studies published between 1942 and 2021, including data from 55,761 men across the world to reach these conclusions.

But why? And why does it matter?

The study authors speculate about why there may have been a significant change over a relatively short period of time. One idea is that exposure to “hormone-disrupting substances,” like pesticides or other chemicals in our food, hygiene products, and environment, may be a factor. Exposure to these hormone disruptors has been suggested as a reason that young people are starting puberty earlier, and earlier puberty can affect genital development.

But it’s not yet clear, and that’s why lead author Dr. Michael Einsenberg thinks more research is needed: “Any overall change in development is concerning, because our reproductive system is one of the most important pieces of human biology. If we’re seeing this fast of a change, it means that something powerful is happening to our bodies. We should try to confirm these findings and if confirmed, we must determine the cause of these changes.”

So…size does matter?

On a global scale, maybe. Researchers are interested in learning more about why penis length seems to have increased in the past few decades to see if there are broader implications for men’s reproductive health. But on the individual level, no. There are very few instances where size, or shape, of a penis should be a concern. For more on this, read our expert answer below on penis size.

Q: I have a small penis. How can I enlarge it?   

A: First off, the is a wide range of what is considered average size for a penis—from 1 to 4 inches for a flaccid penis and about 6 inches for an erect one.

It’s also worth noting that a penis may change size considerably depending on time of day, temperature, and factors other than sexual stimulation or excitement. During sexual stimulation or excitement, the penis becomes engorged with blood and stands erect – but there is a wide variation in normal size and shape and angle for an erect penis also. In some people, the erect penis is almost the same size as the flaccid (soft or non-erect) penis, while in others the erect penis is much longer and wider than the flaccid penis. You cannot tell by looking at a flaccid penis what size it will be when erect. 

As a general rule, the size of the penis does not determine a sexual partner’s satisfaction with a sexual experience. That usually depends much more on the relationship between the two people and on both partners trying to make each sexual experience mutually pleasurable and satisfying for both of them. 

Because many people with a penis are concerned about the size of their penis and would like it larger, there are many unethical people or businesses that offer lotions or pills or other types of non-medical treatment to enlarge or lengthen the penis. None of these methods have been fully tested in clinical trials and approved for medical use – and none of them are recommended by reputable physicians. They are taking advantage of a person’s concerns about penis size and seeking to get his money for treatments that are worthless at best. Some can be dangerous or may even damage the penis. None of these methods or products can be recommended or should be used. 

Finally, there are a few uncommon medical conditions of the penis that a person should talk about with his doctor (especially a urologist). The first is an extremely small penis—a condition called micropenis—in which the penis does not develop to a normal size. Occasionally a penis does not develop normally even before birth; usually these conditions are recognized shortly after the baby is born and given the necessary medical attention. Another medical condition occurring most commonly in middle-aged men is Peyronie’s Disease. In this problem, the penis develops scar tissue that may cause it to be smaller or curve abnormally – but this is not a cause of concern about a small or short penis. 

—James Allen, MD

Condom Size—Find the Right Fit

Even though a regular external condom will work for just about any penis, there are lots of options out there. Condoms come in a variety of styles and sizes to meet the needs of different people.

Penis Size FAQ

From the Kinsey Institute. Includes a selected bibliography of research resources related to penis size compiled in response to frequent questions received by the Institute.