Posted tagged ‘penis size’

Is his penis too small?

February 11, 2013

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

A question popped up on a bulletin board over on WebMD where I’m a “featured expert”: Could an 8 year old boy have a penis that’s too small? A parent thought that one son’s looked much smaller than that of her other boys.

Penises start out small, and stay fairly small until hormones at puberty cause growth starting around age 10-14. At birth, an average penis is 1.5 inches long, and anything over ¾ of an inch is considered normal. An average 8 year old (and, really, an average any-year-old prior to puberty) has a penis size of about 2 inches—that’s gently stretched, while pushing back the pubic fat pad that can sometimes “bury” the base of the penis. A more detailed table of normal and abnormal penis sizes by age can be found here.

A penis that appears much smaller than expected is sometimes the result of obesity or a thick body type that makes the penis look “pushed in.” This is called a “hidden penis.” If the penis can’t be pushed back out (by pressing back on the fat pad), it may be a truly “buried penis,” which may require surgery. Sometimes, the scrotal skin is attached up high on a “webbed penis,” which can also be corrected surgically.

Parents who have concerns about penis size should bring this up with their doctor—don’t expect that a pediatrician is going to measure Junior’s penis at his well check, or that we’ll more-than-eyeball that part of the exam. If it’s really small, we’ll probably notice, but if you’re worried, bring it up and discuss it to make sure that that part of the exam is done carefully and recorded. Along with penis size, a careful exam should also include a complete genital look-see, checking to make sure testicles are where they’re expected to be and that there are no other signs of unusual genital development.

A truly too-small penis is called a micropenis. This can be treated initially with testosterone injections, which usually enhance growth. If that fails, the family of a boy with a very small penis may have to consider the difficult and ethically challenging issues of whether gender reassignment is appropriate. Anyone facing that kind of situation should certainly be working with university specialists in endocrinology and urology to learn about and explore every option.