The Penis

A guide to the Penis, Average Dick Size, Hard Ons, Foreskin, the Bell End and Frenulum.

This guide can only really teach you some of the basics – you might want to have a look at your own private parts (in private) to get an idea of how this all works for you.


***pictures and drawings of dicks below***

***careful if you’re on the bus***


The penis

Sexual body parts THE PENIS HARD AND SOFTYou probably don’t need me to tell you that penises have two main functions: peeing and cumming. A penis needs to be hard in order to cum and it is very very difficult to pee when the penis is really hard.

Erections can happen when someone is feeling really turned on but can also happen at other times. In the morning when testosterone is at a high level (aka ‘morning glory’), or in a classroom or on a bus. This can be embarrassing but there are ways that they can be hidden – hands in pockets, sitting down, pulling top down or even wearing two pairs of pants if it happens a lot.

Sometimes erections don’t happen when we really want them too. Even when someone is really turned on and wanting sex sometimes they can get the flop. This can happen for medical reasons: but usually it’s a temporary problem that is often caused by not being relaxed. This can be because of stress generally, worries about ‘performance’ (ironically worrying about staying hard can make it harder to stay hard), anxiety about being seen naked or about safer sex. Any kind of tension or anxiety can make an erection go away.

How erections work

Sexual body parts HOW ERECTIONS WORKThere is no bone or muscle in the penis, so how do they get hard? As you can see in this picture the penis is made up of blood vessels and loads and loads of tightly packed spongy blood cells. Blood rushes into the corpus cavernosa via the arteries and is trapped there making the penis hard. Imagine filling a balloon (or a condom) up with water and then squeezing one end to make it hard – that’s kinda what happens in the penis. When the penis goes soft the blood exits via the dorsal vein (which you can probably see at the top of the penis).

Penises and clitorises work in a very similar way, so if you have a clitoris you can probably have a pretty good understanding of what a hard on feels like and how it works. There’s more on the similarities between clitorises and penises in my genitals article and video.

Read: Can You Break Your Penis?

It’s also really important to remember that guys aren’t machines. It’s really important for guys to spend time getting turned on too (kissing, stroking, etc). In porn you only see guys with erections because if they lose their erection the director shouts ‘cut’, so please don’t compare yourself.

Penis size

Most penises are about the same size (around 5.5 inches) when erect but vary a lot more when they are soft. Guys who have a small looking penis when soft usually get a lot bigger when they get hard (grow-ers) and usually bigger looking soft penises don’t get much bigger, just harder (show-ers).

Penises come in lots of different shapes and sizes and there is a big variation. According to a recent study the average is 14.15 cm (5.5.inches) and an average erect circumference of 12.23 cm (4.8 inches) but the range of penis size is really big. There were reported erect penis lengths of 4 (1.6 inches) to 26 (10.2 inches) centimetres and erect penis circumferences of 3 (1.2 inches) to 19 (7.4 inches) centimetres. Here’s some helpful advice from me about having a small dick (there’s nothing actually wrong with having a small dick).

Penis size has nothing to do with how good sex can feel and there’s not a lot you can do about increasing penis size anyway. There are a couple of cheats that can make guys feel a bit more satisfied with their penis size.


Sexual body parts HOW FORESKIN WORKSIf you have foreskin it should be able to move forwards and backwards over the glans of the penis quite easily. Sometimes this happens by itself when the penis gets bigger, sometimes it needs a quick helping hand. The loosening of foreskin during puberty is a gradual process as the penis grows and through masturbation during adolescence, for a study on this click here.

If foreskin doesn’t roll back easily then it could get damaged during sex. It’s also important to be able to clean under the foreskin to prevent infections. If it is tight you can try some self-stretching exercises from NormUK. Try stretching the foreskin forward and then backwards as far as it will go, hold it for a few seconds and then let go and repeat. It might help to do this in the bath or shower as the warm water will help to stretch the skin. Little by little over a few weeks the hole (prepuce) will get bigger and so the foreskin should slide over the glans more easily. Only do this if it is comfortable and be careful that it doesn’t get stuck (try and move it back straight away or go to a doctor). If in any doubt see your doctor, who may prescribe a steriod cream to loosen it or recommend circumcision: removal of the foreskin.

Glans aka ‘bell-end’

Sexual body parts BELL END AND FRENULUMThis is a really sensitive part of the penis because it’s packed with so many nerve endings. It’s very similar to the glans of the clitoris. The glans is all about sexual pleasure and most people with one need it to be stimulated to have great sex. They can feel great to be touched, stroked, licked, rubbed, sucked or buzzed with a vibrator. Everyone is different though, so find out for yourself what you and they like.

Even without very much foreskin this area is still very sensitive. People who have been circumcised may find they might like to use lubricant to keep the skin moist and sensitive. Condoms can also help to act as kind of replacement foreskin too.


This bit of skin attaches the foreskin to the glans and the shaft of the penis. It can be very very sensitive to touch. Sometimes it can be a little tight and uncomfortable when the penis is hard. Occasionally through rough handling, it’s possibly to damage this skin which can cause some bleeding. This may seem scary at the time but it usually heals itself after a couple of weeks. If this has happened to you, you might want to go see a doctor or have a sexual health service check it out for you.


There are often little spots under the penis or around the bell end. These are normal (they’re called papules) but if you notice anything unusual you might want to get it checked out. You can also get spots in the pubic hair area which are caused by in growing hairs. Spots (or papules) are very common but unusual lumps and bumps should be checked out in case it’s a STI (sex infection).

© Justin Hancock 2018

Justin Hancock

Justin Hancock, writer/editor of BISH. I've been a sex and relationships educator since 1999. I'm a trained sexual health trainer and a qualified youth worker. I've worked with thousands of young people in person: in sexual health clinics, schools, and youth projects. My advice has also featured in leading newspapers in the UK and my work has been written about and referred to by several academics, journalists and writers.

Comments (4)

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    I want to increse my dick size wht to do? Any supplyment or enjection r thre


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    A penis doesn’t necessarily have to be hard to cum.


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    When I have an erection it is a hang down erection. It has pretty much always been that way. It is fully hard but has no rise or lift to it. Is there any way I can get it to point straight out of up? I am not interested in surgery. Are there any kind of muscle exercises that I can do to get to lift. I understand that what I have may simply be what I have? I am happy with my penis but would like more lift if I can get it. Help a guy out if you can. Thanks.


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