10 interesting facts about the penis

Although many people who have a penis are familiar with its antics, this appendage is more than meets the eye. In this article, we’ll go over ten interesting details about the penis that you probably didn’t know.

statue of man

When seen as an evolutionary adaptation, the penis has performed admirably.

The penis has a long history. In case you’re curious, the oldest known penis is 425 million years old, and it came from an arthropod called Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which means “amazing swimmer with a large penis” in Greek.

Anyone who is amazed at how quickly the penis can be “activated” should consider its importance to our species’ existence. In terms of reproduction, a false arousal is preferable to a missed opportunity.

“Even the world’s greatest actor cannot fake an erection,” author Mokokoma Mokhonoana famously said. This brings us to the day’s first penile fact.

1. The first erection

Penises are born ready, and it is typical for babies to have an erection when they leave the womb. Ultrasound scans can sometimes reveal a fetus with a fully formed erection even before birth.

Fetal erections are most likely during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, according to a 1991 study. And they can occur several times per hour. Nobody knows why, but it could be the body’s way of ensuring that everything is in working order.

2. A penis is twice as long as you think

Many people may find comfort in the fact that their penises are longer than they appear. In fact, the body contains almost half of the total length.

An internal view of the male genitalia
An internal view of the male genitalia

“Well, it’s no good to me up there,” you might think, but it needs to be connected to the rest of the anatomy, so it’s probably best if it stays place.

The mass of pink erectile tissue — which includes the so-called “corpus cavernosum” and “corpus spongiosum” — reaches well into the pelvic region, generating a boomerang shape, as seen in the diagram above.

3. The shoe size myth

Let’s lay this one to rest, shall we? There is no link between shoe size and penis length, according to a 2002 study published in the journal BJU International.

Although a previous study from 1993 indicated a modest association between penile length and both height and foot length, the authors concluded that “height and foot size would not serve as realistic estimators of penis length.”

Other relationships were investigated in a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research. “Penile dimensions are substantially linked with age, height, and index finger length,” the researchers concluded, but not with foot size.

4. ‘Morning wood’

The majority of people with penises get 3–5 erections per night, most of which occur during REM sleep. This is also known as “nocturnal penile tumescence,” and the cause is unknown.

An erection reduces urination, which could help avoid bed wetting, according to one theory.

A full bladder has been shown to stimulate nerves in the same area as those responsible for erections. However, because people with vaginas have a condition called nocturnal clitoral tumescence, bed wetting prevention is unlikely to be the complete solution.

Another possibility is that REM sleep is linked to the switching off of noradrenaline-producing cells in the brainstem’s locus coeruleus. The tone of the penis is inhibited by these cells. As a result of the reduction of inhibition, the penis grows erect.

Nocturnal erections, for whatever reason, can be beneficial as a diagnostic tool. If it’s difficult to get or keep an erection when awake but not while sleeping, it could be due to a psychological issue rather than a physical one.

5. One final erection

So, we’ve shown that erections may occur in the womb and while sleeping, but the death erection is possibly even more startling. It’s also known as “angel lust” or a terminal erection, and it occurs shortly after death.

It is most typically found in people who have died by hanging, and scientists believe it is caused by pressure from the noose on the cerebellum.

It has also been reported in the aftermath of a gunshot wound to the head, significant blood vessel damage, and poisoning.

Another theory is that “brutal destruction of the cervical spinal cord” causes the erection.

6. The penis can break

The absence of a bone in the penis is unusual among mammals. The penis, on the other hand, can still be broken. This is most common during forceful sex, but it has also been reported by doctors in people who have fallen out of bed with an erection.

The rupture of the fibrous covering of the corpora cavernosa, which is the tissue that grows erect when engorged with blood, is known as a penile fracture.

A popping or cracking sound, acute pain, swelling, and — unexpectedly — flaccidity accompany the fracture.

Thankfully, it doesn’t happen very often, and if treated quickly, complete function can be restored. If this happens to you, take care not to let your shame get the best of you. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

The most “dangerous” position, according to the authors of a study that looked at 42 cases of penile fracture, was “woman on top.”

7. No-brainer

The majority of people with penises have little control over when they ejaculate. This is partly due to the fact that it does not require the utilization of the brain. The spinal ejaculation generator sends the signal to ejaculate. The required functions are coordinated in this region of the spinal cord.

Of course, the brain has some involvement on these matters — thinking about something else, for example, is a well-known strategy to delay an event — but the spine handles the nuts and bolts of the entire procedure.

8. The angle of the dangle

A penile erection can be directed in almost any direction. There is no right or wrong in going straight forward, left or right, up or down.

The information below comes from a study that looked at 1,484 erections.

The measurement was 0 degrees if the penis was oriented directly up, and 90 degrees if it was pointed forward (horizontal) in the figures below:

  • 0–30 degrees: 4.9% of participants
  • 30–60 degrees: 29.6% of participants
  • 60–85 degrees: 30.9% of participants
  • 85–95 degrees: 9.9% of participants
  • 95–120 degrees: 19.8% of participants
  • 120–180 degrees 4.9% of participants

So, if you’re worried that your partner is a little off, don’t be.

While we’re on the subject of “normality,” it’s worth noting that few penises are perfectly straight; they can curve in any way. It is still deemed healthy to have a curvature of up to 30 degrees.

9. Grower or show-er

There is no association between the length of a flaccid penis and its erect size, according to a study with 274 participants. Some are little while flaccid and only grow a little when erect (a grower), while others are enormous when flaccid and only grow a little when erect (a show-er).

Some are little regardless of arousal, while others are large while flaccid and grow to be larger. It’s a mixed bag.

This may or may not be useful outside of the locker room, but it’s always good to know.

10. Cornflakes prevent masturbation

They truly don’t. However, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the breakfast cereal mastermind, hoped that they would. He created cornflakes and other items in the hopes of luring Americans away from the “sin” of masturbating through plain foods.

Thankfully, food makers no longer spend as much time attempting to persuade teenagers to stop masturbating. It also doesn’t render you blind, just in case there was any doubt.

If this list has piqued your interest, you should consider planning a vacation to Iceland to see the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which is dedicated to all things penile. Sigurur Hjartarson, whose interest in the subject began when he was given a bull’s penis as a child, founded the museum.

According to Hjartarson: “Collecting penises is like collecting anything. You can never stop, you can never catch up, you can always get a new one, a better one.”

If you want to take things a step further, head to Beijing’s Guolizhuang Restaurant, which serves penis and testicle dishes. It’s entirely up to you.