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The Truth Behind ‘Grower vs. Shower’

What’s the real relationship between flaccid and erect penis size?

Updated on 4/14/2022

Since the dawn of time — or at least since the dawn of The Howard Stern Show and Reddit — men of smallish flaccid penises have sworn that there’s serious truth to the claim “I’m a grower, not a shower.”

Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body 1918

Showers, like Jon Hamm, have large flaccid penises that don’t increase as much when erect, whereas growers are relatively small when soft but expand significantly when hard.

Growers, of course, are quick to point out they’re working with more than meets the eye. Stern, for example, says he “looks like a button” when he’s soft but that he’s “a full six inches when erect!” Most Redditors also claim to be growers, though they offer questionable metrics to support those claims.

“I’m a hardcore grower,” explains OnlyOnThursday in the BigDickProblems subreddit. “When completely flaccid I’m like 2”-2.5” but when I’m hard I’m at around 8”-8.2”.” And Amazinguser reports his penis goes “from thumb size to wrist size” and more than doubles in both length and girth.

Strangely enough, it was more difficult to find showers. Until, that is, I stumbled upon Measurection, “a site for men with small penis insecurities.” At 4–4.5 inches soft and 5 inches “at the absolute maximum,” TheFriarsDruggist most definitely identifies as a shower. “It’s great in places like the locker room, or if I end up naked in public for some reason (streaking, strip poker, skinnydipping, truth or dare, etc.) because around most guys, when soft at least, I look like one of the bigger dudes in the room. But if for some reason someone sees it soft and we end up hooking up later, they usually seem disappointed. Once a drunk girl at a party said, ‘Wow. That’s it?!’”

To check the veracity of this classic dichotomy, I reached out to urologist Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger (whose name is harder than an erection — grower or shower — to spell correctly on the first pass). Dr. Shteynshlyuger is among an elite number of fellowship-trained urologists in the United States. Mainly, I wanted to know: Was it true? And does the size of your flaccid penis have any relation to the size of your erect penis?

Shteynshlyuger explains it’s all a matter of skin elasticity. In other words, some men simply have more stretchable penises than others. The latter are classified as “showers” because they tend to be more prominent than most in their flaccid state — it’s essentially the same as their erect state. Further, Shteynshlyuger says you can’t really make a good generalization about the relationship between flaccid and erect; it’s different for each man. If a shower is larger than average when soft, he likely will be when hard as well. Growers are more unpredictable, and what looks to be a less-than-average flaccid penis can grow to an above-average erect penis, Shteynshlyuger says.

Bottom line: There are small growers and showers, average growers and showers and large growers and showers. “A lot of people wrongly assume if someone is a shower, he has a huge penis,” Shteynshlyuger says. “But it just means the penis doesn’t stretch as much as the grower.” Nor does one typically get harder than the other, since the firmness of an erection is a result of good blood supply and determined by a totally different part of the penis. As for numbers, 79 percent of men are growers while 21 percent are showers, according to an international Men’s Health survey. In terms of demographics, younger men tend to have more stretchable penises because the collagen fibers inside the penis become less stretchable as a man ages. Likewise, inflammation and reduced blood flow to the penis as a guy gets older can nudge him towards shower territory.

The jury, however, is still out on the Darwinian angle. “A shower, especially if it’s a big shower, signals to a female about the reproductive capacity and the grandeur,” Shteynshlyuger explains. On the other hand, he argues, a grower has the best of both worlds: It provides protection to the nether regions (shrinkage is the body’s way of protecting the penis from the elements), while also impressing when erect.

So which are you? Shteynshlyuger says there is a way to test. It’s called “putting a penis on full stretch.” Or in two easy steps:

  1. Pull your flaccid penis as far as you can away from the body.
  2. Measure.

The propensity for a penis to grow is directly proportional to how far you can pull it away from the body (i.e. how stretchable the collagen fibers are within the skin of the penis). Growers tend to have a significant increase — approximately 50 percent — stretched. Showers will hardly stretch at all.

We’ll give you a moment.