by Annie Daly, originally published on Women’s Health
In a perfect world, your boyfriend/husband/fiancé/hookup would have the Goldilocks of penises: not too big and not too small—juuuust right for you. But this is not a perfect world, and the truth is that size can sometimes be an issue. His penis and your vagina might not always match up perfectly. We checked in with gynecologist Lauren Streicher, M.D., author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, to find out if a penis can ever be too big for your vagina—and what to do if you find yourself dealing with the papa bear of penises.
Good news: In general, most vaginas are able to fit all shapes and sizes of penises. “Given appropriate arousal and lubrication, most vaginas can expand to fit whatever size penis,” says Streicher. It’s also pretty rare for women in their twenties and thirties to have problems accommodating more well-endowed men. “It becomes more common as you get older, though, because the likelihood of your having medical or hormonal issues increases,” she says.
That said, there are exceptions. “Sometimes, it can seem like a penis is too big for a woman’s vagina. And if that’s the case, the important thing is that you need to figure out why it’s happening—because it can be solved,” says Streicher.
There are two big reasons that his man-parts can seem too large. First, you may not be turned on enough. Really. “If a woman is not aroused, it’s very possible that a penis may not go in,” says Streicher. Or if it does, it could hurt or bleed or cause tearing. To fix this problem, be sure you are lubricated enough before he enters you. Ask him to engage in some serious foreplay before the main act, or use lubricant to get things going.
Another possibility is that certain medications could be making your vagina a little dehydrated—and you may not even realize it. “Many low-dose birth control pills cause vaginal dryness, as well as antihistaminesand even cancer treatments, like radiation,” says Streicher. So if you continue to be dry down there—even if your guy is all about foreplay—check in with your doctor or gyno to see if one of the medications you are taking may be messing with your sex life.
The important thing to focus on here is that this is a solvable situation. As long as you follow the above advice, you are not doomed to a sex-less existence if your boyfriend’s penis seems too large. “I have not once seen a patient who hasn’t been able to successfully have intercourse after taking the proper steps to fix the problem,” says Streicher.
It’s no secret that every man’s penis is a little bit different. The real question is this: How many kinds of penises are there? I asked three experts: Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First; Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., a sexual health educator for the Kinsey Institute; and Joseph Alukal, M.D., assistant professor of urology and director of male reproductive health at NYU Langone Medical Center, for the downtown low-down. Here are eight kinds of man parts you may see in your bedroom travels.
Description: The skin covering the penis (a.k.a. the foreskin) has been removed.
Fun fact: “This is the most common kind of penis in the United States: “About 90 percent of men over 20 are circumcised,” says Alukal.
Tip: Previous research has found that circumcised penises can be less sensitive than circumcised ones (since they don’t have the sensitive foreskin). But since you’re probably used to this kind of penis anyway, just proceed as per usual.
Description: The foreskin is left intact.
Fun fact: Uncircumcised men have to work a bit harder to keep it clean down there since bacteria can get trapped in the extra skin.
Tip: As the penis goes from flaccid to erect, it helps to roll back the foreskin to stimulate him more.
Description: Penises that are bigger when erect than they are flaccid.
Fun fact: An international Men’s Health survey found that 79 percent of men have growers.
Tip: During foreplay, wrap your fingers around the base of his penis firmly. This makes him harder and (at least in theory) helps him acheive his full size potential. (And if nothing else, it can help delay his orgasm so he can enjoy sex for longer.)
Description: Penises that stay more or less the same size when erect as they are flaccid.
Fun fact: “No one knows why certain penises function so differently,” says Alukal. But according to that same Men’s Health survey, 21 percent of men are the proud owners of show-ers.
Tip: If you’re impressed by his manhood the second you see it, say so—he’ll definitely appreciate the compliment.
Description: The erect penis bends slightly to either side.
Fun fact: When flacid, his manhood will seem pretty straight—it’s only when he gets hard that the curve appears.
Tip: “Experiment and be communicative with your partner,” says Kerner. Try as many new positions as you can, and you’ll have a better idea of what feels best for both of you.
Description: “To be considered medically ‘small,’ a penis has to be two standard deviations less than the average—meaning it’s just over three inches long when erect,” says Alukal.
Fun fact: Researchers haven’t measured girth yet in any formal way, so there aren’t any established numbers floating around out there about average width, says Alukal.
Tip: Try the coital alignment technique—when his pelvic bone presses directly against a woman’s clit—to boost your pleasure.
Description: Manhoods that are seven inches long or more when erect, which is about two standard deviations longer than the average of five, says Alukal.
Fun fact: It’s basically impossible for a penis to be so big that it’s physically incapable of fitting inside you.
Tip: Make sure you’re extra lubricated, and spend plenty of time on foreplay.
Description: It doesn’t always get hard when it should.
Fun fact: “About 40 percent of men have penises that don’t always function as they should,” says Alukal. What’s more, an unpredictable penis could actually be an indicator of a greater health problem.
Tip: If your man has penile difficulties, the most important thing you can do is be supportive. But don’t say something like, “It’s okay, I don’t care,” because you do—and he knows it. “The better thing is to say is, ‘We’ll figure this out together,’ and then remind him about a week after you talk about it to schedule a doctor’s appointment,” says Alukal. That way, he’ll know that you’re there for him—and that you want it to work just as much as he does.