Throughout her decades of experience as a sexologist, Sunny Rodgers has regularly encountered dudes with “small penis syndrome.” Research routinely shows guys are dissatisfied with their dick size. Small penis syndrome, however, is a little more specific — in medical terms, it’s an offshoot of body dysmorphia; but instead of having a warped perception of their bodies more generally, sufferers are convinced their dicks are tiny, even if they’re objectively pretty average-sized.
This mistaken belief can cause severe anxiety — which is where sex therapists, urologists and sexologists like Rodgers come in.
“I would say around nine out of 10 guys I come across have penis insecurities, or some concern about their shape, size and performance,” Rodgers tells me. “These insecurities are much more common than people think. Penises are hidden most of the time, and most men don’t compare or discuss the dimensions of their erections.” As a result, Rodgers says dick size is “elusive, almost mythical and often-pondered.” Porn doesn’t help — often, the only other penises some men see come from the well-endowed studs of the adult world, furthering their mistaken belief that everyone else is hung but them (that said, there’s plenty of affirming porn for guys who think they’re overly small).
To address these issues, therapists often have to address what actually constitutes a small penis with their clients in order to put their size into perspective. In 2014, a group of researchers in the U.K. set out to answer this age-old question by aggregating dick-related data from around the world. Perhaps surprisingly, they found the average flaccid cock size is around 3.61 inches; with an erection, this figure swells to 5.16 inches. There are other factors like girth to consider, but these results call bullshit on the oft-repeated myth that the average cock is six inches.
After making that clear, some sex therapists like Chris Donaghue take a lighthearted, sex-positive approach. “For those battling penis-size shame, remember that different-sized dicks have various benefits,” he tells me. “Dicks that are bigger can feel better because they fill and stretch us, but there are some things a smaller penis can do better, like nail the prostate and the G-spot far better than a larger cock.”
He’s one of many therapists that willingly help guys with small penis syndrome, but there are very few professionals who specialize in counseling patients with dick-related shame. In fact, one of the most prominent articles on small penis syndrome, written in 2007, can’t resist cracking a few immature jokes at the condition’s name, which insinuates there are some therapists out there who might not take it seriously.
Below-the-belt small dick jokes are just one of many reasons plenty of guys don’t open up about their junk-related worries to their therapists. “I’ve noticed that some men are very embarrassed about this insecurity,” says Connecticut-based sex therapist Jodi Erin. “I’d imagine there are many men who feel this way but don’t share it. I will note that I have more cis men who report concerns about their penises than partners seeking therapy because they don’t enjoy their lover’s penis.”
These concerns might lead to other psychological issues like anxiety, depression, anger or hopelessness, which is another area where small penis syndrome therapists can help. According to an anonymously written MentalHelp.Net article on small penis syndrome interventions, the most important thought habits therapists watch out for are “rigidity, over-certainty and a tendency to overgeneralize.” “As we’ve pointed out, men with small penis syndrome tend to fixate on the idea that they’re hopelessly inadequate, that all women will reject them, that all women are lying if they don’t reject them, etc.,” the author writes. “There is no room to move from this position, and yet these beliefs, in their rigid over-certainty, simply cannot be true in all cases. No real work on cognitive biases and faulty beliefs can occur until these men become aware and accept that they might just be wrong in some cases.”
In order to help men change their opinion, therapists often use cognitive behavioral therapy — which can help reframe how we think about and judge situations; not to mention, reshape our emotional reactions to those situations — as well as mindfulness meditation, sex education and a hearty dose of real-world experience training. Often, while men are in therapy, therapists will walk them through how to handle their anxieties on dates and once they’re in (or around) bed with their partners.
“These men need to get out and date; to talk to women and listen to what they have to say,” the MentalHelp.net article continues. “Men need to be careful to avoid dismissing what they are hearing from the women they spend time with when what they hear disagrees with their preconceived notions. Finally, a variety of experiences with different women might help these men better appreciate the variety and types of women who are actually out there. In essence, we are recommending a form of exposure therapy.”
Beyond that, most small penis syndrome therapists will tailor your treatment to your individual needs and lifestyle, all in the name of helping you realize that you’re perfectly normal. After all, a small-to-average penis can still have a pretty big impact.