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Penis: An Owner’s Manual

Chances are that either you or someone you know has a penis. Having a penis can be fun: it’s hanging out, not hidden in the body; it’s easy to play with; and even lets us pee standing up. But sometimes having a penis can be downright annoying. Let’s take a look at some of the big issues concerning young men and their penises.


One of the biggest concerns for many guys (and many grownups too, for that matter) is the size of their penis. Many guys want to know, “Do I have a small penis?” Sometimes during puberty, a boy’s penis starts to get bigger. Just like all other aspects of puberty, there isn’t a set age at which this happens, but rest assured it happens to everyone.

There isn’t a normal size for any particular age. However, 90 percent of all adult erect, or hard, penises are between five and seven inches long. Also, the size of a guy’s penis when it’s flaccid (“soft”) doesn’t really have anything to do with what it will be like when it’s erect (“hard”). As they become erect, smaller flaccid penises tend to grow more than penises that are larger when they’re flaccid.


When a man gets aroused sexually, blood flows into his penis at a faster rate than it flows out. This is called vasocongestion. This causes the penis to get larger and harder, which is called getting an erection. Sometimes though, erections can happen at the weirdest times. For example, you’re sitting in math class taking a test, and all of a sudden you’ve got a hard-on. Turned on by algebra? Not likely. What you have is a spontaneous erection. Spontaneous erections are erections that you get when you’re not sexually aroused.

Spontaneous erections seem to just pop up for no reason at all. And that can feel pretty embarrassing. They go away fairly quickly if you ignore them. You can sing a song in your head, or try to say the alphabet backward to get your mind off it. This can happen a lot to a teenager because your hormones are all over the place. Don’t worry; spontaneous erections happen less and less frequently as you get older. They also seem to happen less frequently for men who have recently ejaculated by masturbation or by having sex with a partner.


Are you cut or not? And most importantly, so what? Circumcision (or removal of the foreskin) is generally done shortly after birth. About 60 percent of boys in America are circumcised at birth (which means that 40 percent are not circumcised), making both cut and uncut penises almost equally common. They both work the same way; they just look a little different. But guys who have uncircumcised penises need to pull the foreskin back when they urinate, put on a condom, and wash — whether uncircumcised or circumcised, proper cleaning of the glans and shaft of the penis is important.

Wet Dreams

Ever wake up in the morning to find that you had come in your sleep? This is called a wet dream and it’s completely normal. Sometimes while you were sleeping, your penis got hard and you ejaculated. Most guys have wet dreams occasionally. As you get older and your hormones level off, you’ll get them less and less. You’ll also have wet dreams less often if you are ejaculating more while you are awake — the same as with spontaneous erections.

“Blue Balls”

It’s talked about a lot, but what is it? “Blue balls” is a slang term for an uncomfortable or slightly achy feeling in the testicles. This can occur when a man gets an erection but doesn’t ejaculate. Guys don’t get blue balls every time they get an erection. Think of all those times you got an erection during class. It may have been a bit uncomfortable, but the discomfort went away as quickly as the erection.


Most guys and girls masturbate. Masturbation is touching the genitals to receive pleasure. Why do people masturbate? Because it feels good! But guess what? It has some other great benefits, too. Masturbation is one of the best ways to learn about your body and what feels good sexually. This is not only enjoyable in and of itself, but it can also make it easier to show a partner how one likes to be touched. Best of all, masturbation is the safest sex: there are no worries of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. It won’t cause blindness, make hair grow on the palms, cause insanity, or any other horrible myth you may have heard about it. But it will reduce stress.

Most guys masturbate by wrapping their hand around the shaft of their penis, like a fist, and stroking it up and down. However, there are many ways of masturbating, and it can be done with or without a partner. Masturbation has had a bad rap for centuries. Happily, those days are long gone, and masturbation is considered normal and healthy for people who have penises — and people who don’t!

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