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Small Penis Syndrome: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

8 min read
Small Penis Syndrome: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Penis size is a sensitive topic and one that can have a significant impact on a man’s self-esteem. Research suggests that the majority of women are satisfied with the size of their partner’s penis. However, plenty of men feel that their penis size is “too small”,  with some believing their size is inadequate for satisfying a partner. 

Such views may be brought on as a result of the toxic misconceptions and myths surrounding penis size. Some of these falsely link the size of a man’s penis with their level of masculinity and even their ability to perform sexually. Men with low self-confidence, they can become obsessed with their perceived lack of penis size. In such cases, it’s possible to develop a condition called Small Penis Syndrome (SPS). This article explores SPS, including the symptoms, causes, and what can be done about it.

What is Small Penis Syndrome?

Small Penis Syndrome (also known as Small Penis Anxiety) is a condition where a man believes their penis is too small, despite it being a regular size. Their belief can become an obsession, leading to them frequently checking their penis size and comparing it with others.

Some individuals with SPS may avoid participating in sexual activities and hold the belief that their penis size is not capable of sexually satisfying a partner

This can significantly impact the quality of a man’s life and may prevent them from having relationships or leading an active sex life. Due to the sensitive nature of the condition and the stigma surrounding penis size with potential feelings of shame, men may feel reluctant to seek professional help.

Limited data exists on the number of men diagnosed or suffering from SPS, and some of the assessment tools for the condition are considered controversial. Small Penis Syndrome can often go undiagnosed and men suffering from it may not even be aware that the condition exists. SPS can often lead men to resort to extreme and dangerous measures such as surgery in an attempt to increase their penis size.

Small Penis Syndrome vs Micropenis

The difference between Small Penis Syndrome and a micropenis is that one is psychological in nature, whilst the other is a medical condition. SPS is when an individual with a regular-sized penis believes their penis is small. A micropenis is a penis that measures under the average size range.

The difference between Small Penis Syndrome and a micropenis is that one is psychological in nature, whilst the other is a medical condition

Although individuals who have SPS may believe that they have a micropenis, those with genuine micropenises are often identified at birth. Research states that micropenis is a result of a hormonal abnormality that occurs whilst a baby is still in the womb.

Penis Sizes in Numbers

For those with Small Penis Syndrome, the belief that their penis is small is likely to be based on false information or their own misconceptions surrounding a “normal-sized” penis. In actuality, the statistics surrounding penis size could be more reassuring than people realize.

Average Penis Sizes

A study carried out by the British Journal of Urology found the following averages:

Partner Satisfaction and Self-Esteem

It’s common for men with SPS to feel that their “lack of” penis size prevents them from pleasuring their partner. Research suggests that this is unlikely to be true. In 2006, a study found that 45% of men interviewed would have liked a larger penis, but around 84% of heterosexual females were satisfied with the size of their partner's penis.

There may also be a link between perceived penis size and level of self-esteem

The same study asked men with varying self-reported penis sizes (small, average, and large) to rate themselves based on how satisfied they were with their physical appearance.

The findings showed that men who self-reported having larger-sized penises rated themselves more attractive, felt more comfortable in swimwear, and had greater facial satisfaction than men with self-reported average penises.

Men who considered themselves to have small penises gave lower ratings in the same categories when compared to the men with average-sized penises

Although the study did not directly measure SPS, the findings suggest that there’s a positive correlation between a man’s perceived penis size and their self-image. For men with SPS, they could find themselves less satisfied with their physical appearance because they believe their penis is smaller than it actually is. Two men could have the same penis size and physical attributes, but if one has SPS, they may suffer from lower-self esteem.

Symptoms of Small Penis Syndrome

Some symptoms of SPS may include the following:

  • Difficulty or inability to engage in sexual activity due to penis size-related anxiety
  • Strong feelings of shame and embarrassment over penis size
  • Making regular comparisons of your penis size to others
  • Skewed perceptions of what a “normal” sized penis is
  • Obsessively thinking about the size of your penis
  • Anxiety and depression over penis size

Most common causes of Small Penis Syndrome

An individual’s perception of their penis usually comes from external influences as a result of social comparisons. If men only ever saw their own penis, they wouldn’t be able to cast judgment on its size. Various factors can lead to Small Penis Syndrome, as outlined below.

Most Common Causes of Small Penis Syndrome Diagram


For men who watch excessive pornography, their perception of what constitutes a regular-sized penis is easily distorted. The men who perform in adult movies nearly always have big penises and don’t represent the general population. Watching men with abnormally large penises having sex with a partner who’s paid to exaggerate their enjoyment, is an easy way to make yourself feel inadequate.

Social groups

A person’s social interactions can influence the way they view their penis. For example, if someone insults their penis size, they could become convinced the comments are true even if they were intended as a joke. Alternatively, penis size may come up as a topic of conversation within a social group. For example, when watching a movie or discussing sex lives.

When derogatory comments are made surrounding penis size, whether they’re targeted at an individual or made generally it could lead to men judging themselves and becoming insecure. This insecurity could further develop into Small Penis Syndrome.

Societal Pressures

Traditionally, the media set modern beauty standards. Previous trends such as encouraging women to be skinnier have been criticized for their dangerous message. The same principle applies to the male penis, but it seems these standards are yet to be widely identified as toxic.

The current trends within pop culture seem to send the message to men that bigger means better. This can encourage young men to take matters into their own hands, such as using products or undergoing surgical procedures that could cause them harm.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body dysmorphia is a psychological disorder where men believe in their perceived appearance rather than their actual appearance. This is common in weightlifting communities where men believe their muscles are smaller than they really are and resort to the use of dangerous steroids.

The same applies to men with SPS. They believe that their penis is smaller than it truly is and is sometimes willing to go to dangerous extremes in an attempt to rectify their issue. Research suggests that penis dysmorphia can lead to reduced satisfaction during sex.

Psychological Abuse

Sometimes known as emotional abuse, psychological abuse involves the use of non-physical actions such as verbal attacks in an attempt to manipulate, coerce and emotionally damage another person. This abuse can negatively impact the victim’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, changing the way they think about themselves and live their life

As we often trust and believe those closest to us, it’s common for victims to believe the malicious things that abusers tell them. This can include comments about penis size.

With enough criticism regarding penis size, individuals may later develop Small Penis Syndrome

If you have experienced abuse and wish to seek support, please remember that there is help available. Speak to someone you trust or reach out to your health provider who can signpost you to your local services. If you are in immediate danger, always contact the emergency services.

Penis Size Surgery: Know the risks

Small Penis Syndrome can result in men resorting to extreme and potentially dangerous measures in an attempt to increase the size of their penis. Penis size surgery is a procedure that attempts to increase the size of an individual's penis but it comes with plenty of risks.

Possible risks of penis size surgery:

  • Bad reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • It can cause erectile dysfunction
  • Having a bend or kink (known as Peyronie’s disease) as a result of scar tissue formation.
  • Loss of sensation in the penis (temporarily or permanently)
  • Being dissatisfied with the outcome of the surgery

SPS is a psychological condition, not a physical one. It’s important for individuals who suffer from Small Penis Syndrome to know that surgery may not be the answer to their psychological problems.

Even if penis size surgery is completed without any complications, the risk of remaining dissatisfied with the size of your penis is still likely to be prevalent

Research states that surgery should be the last option. Even if penis size surgery is completed without any complications, the risk of remaining dissatisfied with the size of your penis is still likely to be prevalent. This may be due to many surgeons performing surgery on patients who have not been assessed by a psychologist.

What can you do if you suffer from Small Penis Syndrome

One of the first steps for people suffering from SPS is understanding that the condition exists. This means coming to terms with it being a psychological condition and accepting physical treatments may not help.

Understand the Condition

In less severe cases, researching statistics on average penis sizes may put an individual's mind at rest. It’s worth remembering that many statistics on penis size are often self-reported, which can lead to men exaggerating and inaccurate penile measurements.

When sexual performance concerns are present, having an honest conversation with a partner might provide the reassurance and support needed. Understandably, this is a difficult conversation to have and if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with your partner the “sexual therapy” heading below may help.

Avoid Triggers

It can also be helpful to identify the activities which trigger anxiety related to penis size. Triggers could be anything from comments made by friends to watching pornography. Being able to identify the things that trigger anxiety can help an individual find a way to notice and understand them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy is delivered by a mental health professional and can help people understand the link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With the use of CBT, therapists may be able to help individuals address their anxiety and change their thoughts about their penis.

Sexual Therapy

Sexual therapy may help when an individual's penis size obstructs their ability to have sex in a relationship. A couple's counseling sessions can provide a safe space for both partners to express themselves and understand each other’s feelings.

The importance of Normalizing Penis Size and Expectations

It’s crucial to end the toxic standards set by society and eradicate the false perceptions surrounding the size of the male penis. These can be highly damaging, leading to lifelong insecurity and self-esteem issues which can result in terrible consequences.

Normalizing the acceptance of a man’s penis size should be widely encouraged and embraced

The research referenced in this article suggests that the majority of heterosexual women are satisfied with the size of their partner's penis. Normalizing the acceptance of a man’s penis size should be widely encouraged and embraced. We all come in different shapes and sizes; we were born with our penis size and these differences should be embraced.


Small Penis Syndrome leads men to believe they have a small penis, despite it being a regular size. SPS can cause men to resort to extreme and potentially dangerous measures such as penis size surgery. This approach may prove ineffective as the condition is a mental health issue rather than a physical one. Therapy is a treatment option that may help individuals understand and move past the condition. If you feel concerned that you are suffering from Small Penis Syndrome make sure to consult your medical professional.

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