Different Types of Penises

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Just like people come in all shapes and sizes, so do their genitals. That means that there are many different types of penis shapes and sizes that fall well within the umbrella of normal.

While some men have large penises, the truth is there’s not as much difference among penis size as you might think—and on average, penises are smaller than people believe. However, there are wide variations in length and girth and between circumcised and uncircumcised types. 

This article explains the common characteristics of a penis and how and why penises may differ in appearance.

man covering genitals

Nenad Cavoski / Getty Images

Understanding Penis Anatomy

Before you can make a penis comparison, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of the penis. The penis, along with the scrotum, which contains the testicles, makes up the external male reproductive organ. Not everyone who has a penis identifies as a man. 

There are four important parts to consider when you’re thinking about the penis. They are:

  • The urethra: This small tube runs through the center of the penis and ends at the tip. Urine and ejaculate (cum) travel through the urethra. 
  • The glans: The glans, more commonly known as the head of the penis, is at the tip. In most males, the urethral opening is on the glans. 
  • Foreskin: This is a sheath of tissue that covers the glans. During circumcision, it’s removed. 
  • Erectile tissue: Most of the penis is made of erectile tissue. There are two types of erectile tissue: corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum. Most of the time, this tissue has empty pockets, but during arousal, these pockets fill with blood to cause an erection. 

Penis Terminology

It’s also helpful to consider the terms people use when they talk about penis appearance. These include:

  • Length: Penile length is generally measured from the pubic bone to the tip of the glans, along the top side of the penis. If you have fat around your pubic bone, you may need to push in gently to get a more accurate measurement.
  • Girth: Girth is a measurement of the distance around the penis, its circumference, when it's erect.
  • Curve: This refers to the direction a penis points in when it's erect. 

Penis Size

If you're concerned about how your penis compares with other penises, you're not alone. Research shows that roughly half of men wish they had a bigger penis.

It can be helpful to understand what a common penis size is and how rare a large penis is. 


A study of more than 15,500 men from around the world found that there’s not much variation in penis size. Although the researchers used data from around the globe, most of the studies focused on Caucasian men, and researchers have called for more work into possible variations in penis length among races.

The researchers found that the average length of a flaccid (not erect) penis is 3.61 inches, and the average length of an erect penis is 5.16 inches.

This is telling since most men believe that the average erect penis is more than 6 inches long. This is likely because in pornography—which many people use to compare one penis with another—the male performers have very large penises.

The truth is that having a large penis or a small penis is rare: Only 5% of men have erect penises longer than 6.3 inches and only 5% have an erect penis that is shorter than 4 inches.


There are also misconceptions about the girth or thickness of a normal penis. In that study of more than 15,500 men, it was found that the average girth of a flaccid penis is 3.66 inches. The average girth of an erect penis is 4.59 inches. 


The penis plays an important role in male health, carrying urine out of the body via the urethra and performing a sexual function.

While the size of a penis rarely affects these activities, men are often concerned about the length or thickness of their penises. In actuality, most penises fall into a common range, measuring around 5.19 inches long and 4.59 inches around when erect.

Curved Penis

Although most people think that erect penises should stand straight up or out, the truth is that it's very common for an erect penis to curve slightly. The penis might curve to the right or left, up or down.

If your penis suddenly starts curving, however, you should reach out to your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if your curved penis begins to hurt or interferes with sexual function. There are rare conditions that can contribute to a curved penis, including:

  • Peyronie's disease: This is caused by small injuries and inflammation in the penis over time. It can cause the penis to curve and lose strength and can make it difficult to get an erection. 
  • Hypospadias: This is a birth defect that causes the opening of the urethra to be farther down the penis rather than on the glans. Hypospadias can occur with or without chordee, a condition that causes the penis to curve downward. Both conditions can usually be repaired with surgery. 

Circumcised vs. Uncircumcised Penis

One of the main differences in penis appearance is between circumcised and uncircumcised penises. During circumcision, the foreskin is removed. 

  • Uncircumcised penises: The foreskin remains in place and covers the glans except during sexual arousal. Since it’s typically covered, it’s normal for the glans on an uncircumcised penis to have some moisture.
  • Circumcised penises: The foreskin is removed, usually shortly after birth, so the glans is always exposed and typically has a dry texture and appearance. 

In most cases, circumcision is entirely an elective procedure. However, some medical conditions require circumcision, including recurrent infection (balanitis).

Circumcision rates in the United States are falling as more people have reservations about doing a procedure that is not medically necessary. In the United States, 55% to 65% of male babies are circumcised and the rest are not.


While the size of most male penises is fairly average, there are significant differences in how each appears. It's not unusual for a penis to curve slightly, Although, any sudden or excessive curve should be checked by a doctor. Penises also vary in whether they are circumcised or not.


Penises consist of several important elements related to urinary and sexual health. Ultimately, size has little to do with these functions and should not be a point of concern.

Most men have penises that are of a similar length and girth. It’s very rare to have an exceptionally large or small penis. It’s also entirely normal for a penis to curve, but if the curvature interferes with sexual performance or is painful, talk to your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

The appearance of your penis is a very intimate and personal thing. It’s entirely normal to wonder how your penis compares with other penises. Comparing yourself against unrealistic depictions, however, like those in pornography, can cause unnecessary anxiety.

If you have concerns about your penis type or penis appearance, talk with a doctor you trust. Remember, like the rest of the parts of your body, variations in penis size and appearance are normal, and it’s best not to compare yourself to others.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Science Magazine. How big is the average penis?

  2. King BM. Average-size erect penis: fiction, fact, and the need for counselingJournal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 2021;47(1):80-89. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2020.1787279

  3. NHS. Is it normal to have a curved penis?

  4. Kids Health from Nemours. Circumcision.

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.