Penis Size Q & A

How big should my penis be?

The size of your penis is simply determined by factors, called genetic traits, which you inherited from your parents. There is nothing you can do to increase or decrease the size of your penis-it will develop into its adult size as you change from a boy to a man through the process called puberty. Most boys start the changes of puberty between 10 and 14 years of age, though a few will start earlier or later than these ages. First, the testicles (balls) begin to enlarge and then hair starts to grow around the them. The penis then starts to enlarge, first in length and then later in thickness. Though there is much normal variation, the final penis size is reached four to six years after the testicles first started to enlarge.

This process of normal penis growth can be disturbing to many males. Since the testicles enlarge first (and later followed by growth of the penis), many young male teens do not notice the testicles growing and worry that they are not changing and that their penis is too small. If you are overweight, fat tissue can hide the penis somewhat and give an impression that the penis is smaller than it really is. Some males in your class may have started their changes of puberty well ahead of you and they may seem like they have an adult-size penis-that can be very upsetting! It is difficult to know how large a penis will be in its erect state, simply by looking at it when not erect (or when flaccid).

It is also true that adult penis size varies considerably from person to person. Just as with any body part, different people will have different penis sizes. We live in a society that pushes a myth that the male with a larger penis has a better sex life than one with a smaller penis. This is constantly noted in sexual jokes, in comments heard on TV, or in the movies and in many other places. Well, the truth is that normal penises vary tremendously in size, and sex is just as good for each of these males. You will need to wait a year or two after your overall height has stopped changing to see what final size your penis will be. If at any time during your growing, you are worried that your penis is abnormal, just go to your doctor and ask him or her directly about this. In almost every case, you will be told that it is fine.

The skin on my scrotum (balls) is getting darker. Is that normal?

Yes, it is normal for skin over the scrotum to get darker as you change from a boy to an adult. The result of puberty is an increase in chemicals called hormones. Darkening of the skin over the scrotum or balls is actually one of the first steps of puberty. It is noted to occur at the same time that skin over the balls changes from a smooth appearance to a more rough appearance (called stippling). Also at this time, the testicles or balls themselves will begin to enlarge. These changes are all the first visible signs that puberty has begun. The darkening of the scrotal skin is perfectly normal and will be followed over the next few years by even more dramatic changes: adult pubic hair, growth of the penis, hair in the armpits, larger and stronger muscles, facial hair, growth to an adult size, among others. These changes are all determined by factors called genetic traits-these traits come from your parents and determine how fast these changes will occur and what the final results will look like. So if you see this normal darkening of your scrotal skin, you will know that many changes are about to happen over the next few years-changes that start out looking small, but result in taking you from being a boy to being a man!

When do boys start growing hair around the penis?

The growth of pubic hair over the penis and testicles is a normal part of puberty-the time when boys physically change into men. Most boys begin this time of puberty between 10 and 14 years of age and notice many changes in their bodies that occur over several years. Growth of the testicles is a first visible sign of puberty, followed by growth of the penis. Though much variation is noted, pubic hair usually begins to develop several months after the testicles, or balls, begin to grow. In some boys, the hair may even start growing before any changes in the balls are noted. At first, this hair is limited in amount, is straight (or slightly curled), and soft; it is found at the base or beginning of the penis. Over the next several months or few years, it becomes much darker and curly; it also spreads over the balls and inner parts of the thighs. The final amount of hair is usually reached as other parts of puberty are completed-such as final size of the penis and testicles, final height, and facial hair. However, there is much normal variation in the amount and distribution of this hair. The timing and amount of this hair growth is determined by genetic traits inherited from your mom and dad.

Most of the other guys in the locker room have circumcised penises. I am uncircumcised. Is that normal?

All males are born with a fold of skin over the tip of the penis. Doctors call this fold of skin a prepuce, or foreskin, and the surgical removal of this skin is called circumcision. It has been practiced in many cultures for many centuries, often because of religious reasons. There are some doctors who feel that males should be circumcised for medical reasons and note that circumcision will reduce the chances of male infants getting an infection in their bladders. Some doctors feel that circumcised males will have fewer infections when sexually active and will have less cancer of the penis as adults. But-not all doctors agree with these theories and the medical debate continues regarding the medical need for circumcision. However, doctors do agree that being either circumcised or uncircumcised is normal. When you were born, your parents or guardians chose not to have you circumcised. You are part of a large number of men in the world who are not circumcised-and you are all normal. So, do not worry about this difference! It is perfectly OK!

Why does the doctor have to touch my testicles during the medical exam?

The main reason to touch your testicles (balls) during a medical exam is to check for any abnormality with them. It is important to be sure both balls are of approximate size, and that there is no unusual lump or bump on them. Cancer of the testicle can occur in teen males and it is discovered by the doctor (or even you) touching your testicles. If this cancer is found early, most can have the testicle removed and do well. Finding the cancer early is the key to the best outcome. Your doctor should advise you to check your balls on a regular basis-once a month or so. It is often easy to do this while taking a shower. You will quickly learn how your testicles feel and will be able to discover a new lump or bump on them. If you do feel a lump, see your physician immediately to have it checked out. If you notice pain in or around the testicles, have it checked out also. For example, a lump in the scrotum may not be a tumor of the testicle, but a collection of veins called a varicocele. Sometimes surgery is recommended to remove it. At any rate, expect that a physical examination will include an examination of your testicles. The doctor needs to examine them by touching to be sure they and you are healthy! In fact, if your doctor does not do this during an examination, ask him or her why this very important part of your body is being ignored!

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