What Is a Micropenis?—and How It Does (and Doesn’t) Affect Sex

What Is a Micropenis?—and How It Does (and Doesn’t) Affect Sex

Micropenis, also known as a microphallus, is the medical term for a penis that is significantly smaller than normal range. A micropenis is typically diagnosed at birth, and other than its size, it is identical to any other healthy penis, in terms of structure and appearance. You might have heard of a micropenis, and suspect that you may have one, but do you know what actually defines one? Read on to learn more about what causes a micropenis, how it might affect sex, as well as procedures to increase the size of your penis.

What causes a micropenis?

Male genitalia develop in utero, in response to certain hormones (primarily androgens) produced by the fetus. A micropenis can result due to a lack of fetal androgens, or when the body does not respond normally to androgen production. Micropenises are often linked to medical conditions affecting the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, both of which are responsible for hormone production and regulation. 

A micropenis can also develop in response to other non-hormone-related conditions and it’s not always obvious why some babies are born with one. Although, the risk may be increased if there are family members who also have the condition. Additionally, according to a 2011 study conducted in France, prenatal exposure to chemicals such as pesticides may increase the likelihood of a micropenis developing. 

It is worth noting that having a micropenis is an extremely rare condition, and only affects 0.6% of people worldwide. This means that if you’re concerned about your penis size, it’s unlikely to be classified as a micropenis. 

How do I know if I have a micropenis?

When the penis is unusually small in comparison to other normal-sized genital structures like the scrotum, testicles, and perineum, the term micropenis is used.

A doctor will need to physically examine you to determine whether you have a micropenis. They will measure the stretched penile length (SPL) from the tip to the base of the penis, and compare it to the average length of other people your age to see how it compares. For example, the average SPL for adult males is 5.25 inches and an SPL of 3.67 inches or less is classified as a micropenis. 

For newborns, the average SPL is 1.4 inches   

For adult males, the average SPL is about 13.24cm or 5.21 inches and an adult micropenis is determined by an SPL of 9.32cm (3.67 inches) or less. 

For prepubescent boys who are about 9 to 10 years old, the average SPL is 6.3cm (2,48 inches) and an SPL of 3.8cm (1.5 inches) or less is considered a micropenis.

For newborn babies, the average SPL is 2.8 to 4.2 cm (1.1 to 1.6 inches) and an SPL of less than 1.9cm (0.75 inches) is defined as a micropenis.  

How does a micropenis affect sex (and doesn’t)

Having a micropenis usually doesn’t affect sexual function. Despite what some may think, men with smaller-than-average penises can still have healthy sex lives. Having a micropenis doesn’t affect the ability to urinate, masturbate, or have an orgasm. If you find that sexual penetration is made difficult by having a micropenis, other ways to enjoy sex with a partner are possible. 

Therapy can also help men overcome any anxieties they may have about their penis size, including small penis syndrome, penile dysmorphic disorder (PDD). PDD is  a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) that causes someone to have a distorted perception of their body, which in this case, is their penis size, and are extremely anxious about it. They may mistakenly think they have a micropenis when their penis size is normal. 

Procedure that can be done to increase penis size

Some men who have micropenises choose to have phalloplasty surgery, which has varying degrees of success. One such procedure, known as a suspensory ligament release, entails releasing the ligament that holds the penis in place during an erection. By doing this, the penis can lie at an obtuse angle rather than an acute one, giving the impression that it is longer. However, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage, and a loss of penile sensation are all possible side effects. If scar tissue forms at the incision site, it might also cause the penis to retract.