The dick — also known as penis, cock, tool, prick, peter, pecker, schlong, rod, Johnson and trouser snake to name but a few — has been seen throughout the centuries as a symbol of masculinity, power, fertility, prosperity and the ability to (pro)create. Ancient Romans set up stone phalluses at street corners, which passers-by touched to help improve their luck. Because of the strong symbolic value of the body part, it isn’t surprising that a lot of men are obsessed by their own dick and the dicks of others, be it to compare or to lust after.
Anatomy of the dick
A dick is composed of three columns of erectile tissue. Two of these make up the sides, and a third, larger one runs underneath and leads into the head of the penis, the most sensitive part of the dick. Running through the third section is the urethra, which transports urine and semen out of the body, through the opening at the tip. It’s not possible to come and pee at the same time, as the path to the bladder gets closed off in case of an erection. A stiff dick can’t break as there are no bones, but it can be bruised or fractured. One of the pockets may rupture, leading to a bruise on the dick and necessitating a visit to an Emergency Room.
A dick hardens when blood starts to flow into the erectile tissue, generally because of sexual arousal. However, it’s possible to get an erection from something totally asexual, like a ride in a bumpy bus. Men have several unconscious erections each night while they sleep, unless they suffer from erectile dysfunction with a physical cause. Once a dick has gotten hard, the muscles at the root contract to prevent blood from flowing back out again, until the arousal or unconscious stimuli of the body passes.
The head of the dick is partially or completely covered by a foreskin, though a lot of men have had it removed for medical or cultural reasons. On the underside of the head is a very sensitive spot called the frenulum. This tendon connects the foreskin to the dickhead and may tear if the foreskin is pulled back too roughly. During a circumcision, the removal of the foreskin, the tendon may be severed. But the spot and its surroundings remain very pleasantly sensitive during sex and play a major role in getting an orgasm.
Underneath the dick is a ball sack (scrotum), a generally hairy (unless shaved) bag of skin containing two balls, each consisting of a testicle (testis) and an epididymis. Spermatozoa are made in the testis and matured and stored in the epididymis. Male hormone (testosterone) is also made in the testicles. Balls are very sensitive. The reason that they are placed outside of the body (and potentially in harm’s way), is that they would otherwise be too warm to make and store spermatozoa (sperm). It’s important to protect them during sports and other rowdy activities, to avoid damage. Because of a wrong move or an impact, a ball may get twisted in the scrotum (torsion), stopping the supply of blood to it. This is extremely painful and may result in having to remove the damaged testicle.
If you keep an erection for a very long time, your balls may start to hurt, because of the blood that flowed in and is now trapped there. This phenomenon has been dubbed ‘blue balls’, even though the balls don’t actually turn blue. Your prostate may also start to hurt after a long period of sexual excitement, because of too much accumulated fluid. The solution to this problem is simply to ejaculate, possibly followed by taking a hot bath or shower.
“Nothing spoils the mood quicker than a knee in the nuts during an awkward change of position. If you want to put a guy out of commission: that’s where the ‘off’ button is.”
Pre-come & cum
When a man gets aroused, a clear liquid may come out of his dick, called pre-come, pre-ejaculate or precum. The main function of pre-come is to neutralize any traces of urine that may still be lingering in the urethra. Otherwise, the urine could damage the sperm when it comes through. The amount of pre-come a guy makes varies from one person to the next. One man starts dripping the moment he spots someone attractive in the distance, while another may have little to none of it even at the peak of his arousal.
Several organs work together to produce semen. The fluid for it comes partly from the prostate, partly from the Cowper’s gland and mostly from glands called seminal vesicles. The fluid coming from these vesicles determines the smell and taste of semen. The average amount of semen that comes out during an orgasm is about a thimbleful. Only about 2% of it consists of spermatozoa, but that is still about 20 to 40 million little swimmers.
Cut vs. uncut
The amount of foreskin someone naturally has varies. Some men have a foreskin that covers the entire head of the dick with skin to spare, while the foreskin of others may only reach halfway over the head when limp, giving the appearance of a circumcised penis. The choice to have the foreskin removed is theoretically in your own hands, but often the decision will have been made for you by your parents. Various religions require that their members be cut (have no foreskin) and that young boys be circumcised. Apart from religion, there are people who are of the opinion that it’s more hygienic, because no dirt can collect under the foreskin. The inside of the foreskin is said to be more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, making someone who is uncut (has a foreskin) more at risk for HIV and other infections. In America, being cut or uncut is a hot topic; a lot of men get excited about playing with a foreskin because most American men have theirs removed as infants.
Opponents of circumcision claim that the absence of foreskin causes the unprotected head of the dick to get less sensitive over time because of daily friction with clothing. In Europe the foreskin is generally left alone, unless there is a religious or urgent medical reason to remove it, a problematically tight foreskin for instance.
If you’re uncut, you have to take care to clean under the foreskin thoroughly to prevent the build-up of tallow (smegma). If not cleaned, it will start to stink and will increase your chances of getting infections. If your foreskin is very tight, making cleaning there tricky, a doctor should have a look at it. A tight foreskin can be painful during sex and can get stuck behind the head, disrupting the blood flow. The solution to a too tight foreskin isn’t necessarily circumcision. Depending on the situation, it may be possible to carefully stretch it. Consult a doctor for a professional diagnosis, to prevent permanent damage.
The measure of a man
Comparison of your own equipment to that of someone else can lead to a feeling of insecurity. A lot of men feel they are inadequate when it comes to size. Partly this is based on a distorted perspective. Men see their own dick mostly from the top, making it seem smaller than someone else’s dick, which is generally seen from the side. Additionally, the dicks that can be seen in the media, and in porn in particular, are generally larger and thicker than what the average guy has between his legs.
The length of the average dick of an adult, measured along the top of the shaft from the root to the tip, is between 13 and 16 centimeters (approximately 5 to 6.25 inches). Most men have a length somewhere between 11 and 21 centimeters (approximately 4.25 to 8.25 inches). A rare few score higher than that and a slightly larger number score lower. The term ‘micropenis’ is used if an erect dick is less than about 7 centimeters (2.75 inches). This can restrict possibilities during sex a bit. With a micropenis, only superficial penetration is possible as a top, and in a limited number of positions. (Though there are sex toys — like a sheath to wear over your cock — that can help if this is experienced as a problem.) The average circumference, measured around the thickest part of the shaft, is between 9.5 and 12 centimeter (3.75 to 4.75 inches).
The size of someone’s dick is hard to predict before you see it at full erection. A tall guy doesn’t necessarily have a long dick and someone with a wide build not necessarily a thick one. Even if you see someone naked in front of you, you can be in for a surprise once he starts to rise. Some men have an impressive looking schlong when they are limp, but one which doesn’t grow all that much when it gets hard. Others have a very compact penis when it’s inactive, which grows impressively when properly motivated. These types of dick have been dubbed ‘showers’ and ‘growers’ respectively.
There are no truly effective measures for making a dick thicker or longer permanently. If necessary, the tendons that lift up the dick can be cut surgically. This causes the penis to hang outside the body a bit more, making it appear larger, but at the same time it makes having an upward-pointing erection more difficult. There are also very expensive stretching apparatuses which could possibly have a fairly minimal effect if you hang them on your dick for hours each day. The effect of vacuum pumps, which pull extra blood into your dick, is temporary and can end up deforming your dick or damaging blood vessels there.
Not only men who have a smaller size can be unhappy about their dick. There are also men who complain about having a dick that’s too long or thick. This can end up complicating someone’s sex life. Receiving a blow job over the entire length, for example, will be a rare event, unless the partner has a big mouth and therefore doesn’t need to dislocate his jaw, and has great control over his gag reflex. For anal sex, it increases the amount of foreplay needed, as the butt has to be a lot more relaxed — assuming the bottom is even up for the challenge. But thankfully for the plus-sized guys, there are naturally talented bottoms eager for just such an opportunity to prove themselves.
“I used to be insecure about my size, until I discovered that it ultimately didn’t matter all that much to most men. Because I managed to let go of my insecurity, I became better in the sack and the size issue became even less relevant. A few centimeters more would have been nice to impress others, but that’s not an option and it’s not really necessary.”
Dicks don’t only differ in size, there are also many variations in shape. The shaft isn’t always a straight rod that’s equally thick from top to bottom. Some start out wide and get more narrow towards the tip, while others get wider. A dick may have a curve to the left or the right or up or down. This mostly won’t affect sex, unless the curvature is so strong that it makes fucking uncomfortable. Even then it will generally be possible to find sexual positions that keep the bottom from being prodded in an uncomfortable way. In most cases, a stiff dick will point up, but it’s not unusual for it to curve down slightly.
The relative size of the tip also varies. With some, it’s large and thick compared to the shaft, with others it’s relatively small. The same goes for the balls. Their size will usually be in proportion to the dick, but there may be a difference in size, from large marble to ping pong ball. The dick’s skin tends to be a shade darker than that of the rest of the body, but the contrast isn’t always noticeable. Especially uncut men may have a line of small papules running along the bottom ridge of the tip. These tiny bumps are sometimes confused for genital warts, but are completely harmless. Finally, some men have hair not only at the root of the dick, but a little along the shaft as well.
“It’s fascinating to me, all the differences in size and design; no two dicks are alike. Like fingerprints, they could probably be used as a means of identification. That would make getting checked at the border a lot more exciting!”
No hard feelings
Some men get erect quicker than others. While one stays rock hard from the beginning of a bout of lovemaking straight through until the end, the other may keep alternating between hard and soft during sex. The firmness of the erection may be an indicator of the level of horniness of its owner, but other physical factors can be at play. Exhaustion, drugs, alcohol or bad circulation can make it difficult to maintain an erection. Because very large dicks needs more blood to remain firm, these have it a bit tougher. By fastening something around the base of the dick, the blood that has rushed in can be kept there, maintaining the erection. There are special, adjustable leather straps for this and ‘cock rings’ made of rubber or metal. Be careful using them. If something is around your cock for too long and is too tight, the blood vessels in your dick may end up getting damaged. In case of a metal cock ring, you could end up in hospital because the blood caught in your dick is unable to flow back out again, making it impossible to remove the ring. It will then have to be sawed off to prevent your dick from atrophying and dying off.
As they grow older, some men will have to deal with erections that are less firm, or even with impotence. Because the blood vessels in dicks are so small, they are often a first indicator of problems with circulation, which can be caused by diabetes, heart issues or excessive drinking. Other physical factors include changes in the hormone level and the influence of medication. Problems with getting or maintaining an erection aren’t exclusively an issue for people getting along in years, but they do occur more frequently among this group.
Psychological factors are also at play, though these may be harder to pinpoint. Stress, fear and depression are all enemies of a strong erection. Mental and physical problems can occur in tandem. Someone who already has some trouble keeping his hard-on can become so insecure about it that he does indeed end up losing it. Get yourself checked out by a doctor if you regularly have trouble maintaining an erection.
Not being able to get hard is a very sensitive issue for men because it connects directly to their feeling of masculinity. A lot of guys with this issue are too ashamed to let a doctor take a look. Be man enough to get over that, should it happen to you. You won’t be the first with this problem and definitely not the last. What you tell your doctor is confidential. Keep in mind that it will be a major relief if the doctor manages to remedy what’s going wrong. Self-medication with a pill like Viagra or Cialis may battle the symptoms but doesn’t address the actual cause.
Coming: belated or premature
It’s not always easy to synchronize your own orgasm with that of your partner; men differ in the ease and speed with which they reach their climax. While one guy has to pull back regularly and make an effort not to go over the edge prematurely, another will have to take the matter into his own hands ultimately, maybe literally, to jump over that same edge.
There are physical factors here. If someone has been jerking off with a very firm grip his entire life, his dick may be less responsive to a more subtle sensation and it might be difficult to have an orgasm with someone else at the wheel. In that case, it is important to change the desensitizing masturbation habit, taking a more loose approach and teaching the dick to appreciate a gentler touch. Inexperienced men, by contrast, will often tend to cross the finish line a bit prematurely. They may have trouble registering the responses of their own body and may wait too long before shifting down a gear. Masturbating regularly and balancing at the edge of orgasm can alleviate this issue, because it teaches guys to predict their own responses and how to better navigate them.
There are a few ways to put on the brakes if you sense that you or your partner are headed for an orgasm prematurely. First off, most men find it harder to come when their legs are apart, so spread them. You can also gently squeeze the tip of the dick (at the top and the bottom, not sideways) between your thumb and index finger. This should bring the excitement down a notch. Putting pressure with two fingers between the balls and butt, one finger on each side of the raised ridge of skin there (the perineum), is another tactic. You may also very gently pull on the balls; these contract upon orgasm and keeping them away from the body can help prevent one from starting up. Of course, you can also simply decide to take a short break and rebuild the tension starting at a lower level. Finally, there are condoms that come with lube containing lidocaine. This slightly numbs the dick, making it less sensitive.
Getting your body under control is likely to involve clearing some emotional hurdles: performance anxiety, guilt or a fear of intimacy. Fear of failure all too easily leads to failure. This can be the case whether it is your first time at the rodeo and you’re not sure you’re doing things ‘right’, or if you had problems with premature ejaculation before and are now anticipating that it will happen again. Stress and the feeling of not being in control of your body can indeed lead to an early orgasm, further increasing the anxiety the next time you have sex. The best way to break this cycle is to practice with a trusted partner. Fool around without any pressure or expectations and try to forget all about having an orgasm. If you launch your missiles before you meant to, just take a short break and continue your play. After the first orgasm it will take longer for you to build up to the second one.
Guilt and shame with regard to sex are instilled in many people from the day they were born, and these feelings are magnified when two men end up in bed together. This may lead someone to rush his way through the proceedings, but can also form a blockage when it comes to reaching a climax. It is hard to help someone who has been taught that what he is doing is shameful and sinful to shake that feeling and let him enjoy sex without worry or guilt. Patience and understanding can aid someone on their way to self-acceptance. But if the needed support turns out to be long-term and intensive to the degree that you go from being a partner to being a social worker, a therapist may be what is called for.
A fear of intimacy may cause someone to be unwilling or unable to give himself over completely to his partner. A person like this will have a tough time sharing an orgasm because it is a very vulnerable moment. He may also want to keep control over himself at this time and prefer to literally take matters into his own hands, rather than let his partner take the lead . But keep in mind that a high physical threshold could also be the deciding factor here, so don’t jump to conclusions if your partner doesn’t let you take charge leading up to his discharge.
Last edit: 18-11-2018 Click here for the Dutch version.