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    Erectile Dysfunction
    1234 · 20 min read

    Interesting Penis Facts That You Probably Didn't Know Already!

    Most men would probably consider themselves pretty familiar with their penis. But do you actually know as much as you think you know and are you able to separate fact from fiction? Here are 6 things that you probably weren’t aware of.

    Key Takeaways

    Understanding the Penis:

    The penis is neither a bone nor a muscle. Erections are caused by blood flow to the penis, not muscle contractions. However, it is possible to "break" the penis if it is violently twisted or bent while erect, leading to a penile fracture.

    Factors Affecting Penis Health:

    Several factors can impact penis health, including stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Stress can cause erectile dysfunction (ED), smoking reduces blood flow to the penis leading to ED, and excessive alcohol can depress the central nervous system, making it difficult to maintain an erection.

    Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Treatment:

    ED is more common than many realize, affecting about 50-55% of men aged 40 to 70. It can be caused by various factors, including psychological issues, health conditions, and lifestyle choices. Treatment options include ED medications like Viagra and Cialis, which should be taken under a doctor's guidance.

    The penis is not a bone or a muscle

    Most people probably realise that the penis does not contain any bones (UCL, 2016), despite the ‘boner’ nickname, but the larger misconception is that the penis is instead, a muscle. But can you move it very much when it’s erect?

    The penis is actually not a muscle; an erection is caused by blood rushing to the organ when a man is sexually excited, which makes the penis swell.

    You can break your penis

    So if it’s not a bone or a muscle - can you break it? The answer is a resounding yes. It’s not overly common, but if the penis is violently twisted or bent when erect (usually as a result of certain sex positions), the blood vessels can burst and this is known as a penile fracture (Mayo Clinic, 2022).

    Symptoms of a broken penis include a popping or cracking sound (upon breakage), swelling and an intense pain. It’s certainly not a health condition that’s likely to go unnoticed!

    A man holding a measuring tape above his crotch and stretching the waistband on his jogging bottoms to imply that he is measuring his penis size

    Average size

    Many men are concerned about how they size up to others. The average size of an erect penis is somewhere between five and six inches (King, B.; 2020). However, there are men who have shorter or longer penises, too. In general, it is nearly impossible to make the penis larger than it already is, though you can make it stiffer and more erect with ED meds like Viagra.

    There is no link between penis size and foot size

    There’s a lot of lad chat and jokes about what big shoes mean, but the idea that penis size is in any way linked to shoe size is nothing more than a myth.

    A study by Shah & Christopher (2002) measured the penises of 104 men of various ages and found no link between penis size and shoe size.

    How it hangs

    The average flaccid penis is 9.16 cm (3.61 inches) in length; the average erect penis is 13.12 cm (5.16 inches) long (WebMD, 2022). Many men are concerned about the way their penises hang. Penises tend to bend or hang to one side or the other. Most penises do not hang straight down.

    Controlling the penis is psychological

    Men do not have as much control over the penis as they do over other body parts. A lot of men have probably had experience with this issue in the past, but the fact is that the brain doesn’t have as much control over the penis as some men may have believed. Psychological erectile dysfunction makes trying to calm down an erection very difficult if not completely out of a man’s control. According to NHS Inform (2023), psychological causes of ED can include factors such as:

    • Relationship problems

    • Depression

    • Anxiety

    If you are having difficulty actually achieving an erection, you doctor may recommend using ED drugs to help get yourself an erection long enough to enjoy sex.

    ‘Morning Glory’ is actually the last in a series

    Most men will be familiar with a phenomenon known as ‘morning glory’ or ‘morning wood’, where they wake up with an erection. But it’s actually not a stand-alone erection; a healthy man will have 3-5 erections during every night’s sleep (Zou et al, 2019).

    Although the cause is not fully understood, we do know that each erection will usually last for around 30 minutes and there seems to be a correlation between a man’s night time erections and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when dreams occur.

    Stress can affect the penis

    Stress can also affect penis health. Men who are under constant stress may find it more difficult to get an erection. Stress can cause erection problems including erectile dysfunction (NHS, 2023). If stress is the cause of your erectile dysfunction, the problem will likely go away after you remove the source of stress. Since stress can affect other areas of men’s health as well, learning to relax is essential for good overall health.

    Knowing this information about their penises may help men make better, informed decisions about their penis health. When considering penis health, men should also think about the topic in relation to their health in general and make healthy choices in diet, exercise, and avoiding stress.

    Ejaculation shouldn't be painful

    When a man ejaculates, he usually ejaculates about 1.5 teaspoons of semen. It is not normal to experience pain when ejaculating. If it is painful when you ejaculate, or if your semen is tinged yellow, consider visiting the doctor to test whether you are suffering from a urinary tract infection or other conditions.

    Erections happen throughout your whole life

    Your penis is basically born ready, and it’s not uncommon for babies to be born with an erection. Sometimes, ultrasound scans have even picked up fetus’ with erections in the womb. 

    Erections continue to happen for your whole life (BBC, 2014), and perhaps even afterwards. Known as ‘angel lust’, a man can get an erection moments after death (it’s most common when a man has died suddenly).

    Smoking can increase the chances of ED

    A lot of men don’t know that smoking can have an effect on their penises. Smoking can reduce blood flow to the penis, leading to erectile dysfunction (ED). Additionally, smoking can cause health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which can also result in ED (Medical News Today, 2023).

    Giving up tobacco products can have great effects on many parts of the body and is worth the extra effort, especially for men who are concerned about ED.

    Drinking alcohol can affect the penis

    Just as stress can have a negative effect on the penis, alcohol can, too. Consuming too much alcohol can be bad for penis health.

    For men, alcohol depresses the central nervous system, making it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection (Drinkaware, 2022). It can also delay or prevent orgasm. Heavy drinking over a long period can turn temporary impotence into a long-term condition.

    Video: Alcohol and Erectile Dysfunction - DrinkAware

    Drinkaware have created a short video summarising the impact of drinking alcohol on the chances of erectile dysfunction. You can watch it below:

    Drinking too much alcohol is bad for the body in general, so limiting how much alcohol is consumed can be great for men’s overall health.

    Erection issues are different for every man

    Some penises get longer during erections. Other penises look large all of the time, so they don’t seem to get much bigger during erections. There is nothing wrong with either type of erection. If you are unable to maintain an erection long enough to have intercourse, your doctor may recommend prescription erectile dysfunction medication such as sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil or alprostadil. Over the counter ED medications such as Viagra Connect and Cialis Together could also help but you should always read the patient information leaflet provided with the treatment and consult with a healthcare provider prior to starting treatment to ensure that it is taken in a safe way and it is appropriate for you.

    Masturbation can cause penile damage if you're too rough

    While the act of masturbation will certainly not hurt you, doing so too roughly can cause tender skin or chafing to occur (Medical News Today, 2023). While most men masturbate for pleasure, this act can also cause problems. Masturbation may not be a topic that men feel comfortable discussing. However, if problems occur due to pain after masturbation, you should seek medical attention for the problem.

    Viagra pills organised into a penis shape

    Erectile dysfunction is more common than you realise

    Along with the familiarity that most men have with their penis, comes a fear of it not working. And while most people will know what erectile dysfunction is, most won’t realise how common it is.

    You may have heard that 50-55% of men aged 40 to 70 experience erectile dysfunction (ED), affecting about 4.3 million men in the UK (BAUS, 2024). By 2025, it is estimated that 322 million men worldwide will have ED, more than doubling from 152 million in 1995. This means one in ten men will face ED at some point in their life. So, if you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, remember that it’s a common issue that can usually be treated with psychological techniques and/or medication as recommended by your doctor.

    Please note, all requests for supply of prescription medications are subject to an online clinical consultation and the decision to prescribe will be made by a registered doctor.

    Sources

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    Related Products

    preview
    From £84.99
    • Penis cream used to treat erectile dysfunction
    • Easily applied using the AccuDose container
    • Quick acting and long-lasting
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    From £28.99
    • Effective treatment for erectile dysfunction
    • Works for up to 3 hours
    • Gets to work in as little as 30 minutes
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    • Lasts for 36 hours
    • Take 2 hours before sex
    • Allows for sexual spontaneity

    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

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