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I'm a light-skinned 25-year-old black male, and like most men, I am way too obsessed with my penis. I have this one dark bump that's on the upper part (the lighter-skinned part) of my shaft. It's not painful in the least, and it is extremely smooth when I rub my finger over it. If I couldn't see it, I wouldn't know it's there. Please help.

Sure — stop looking at it! Problem solved.

I'm 44 and get erections all the time. That's not all bad, I know — but I even get them when I play with 11-year-old my son. A while back, my wife and I brought the subject out in the open with him, so to speak. I told him that it's something that happens to me, but that he shouldn't worry about it. Although I don't think he does, it bugs me down to my soul. More than anything, I want to feel normal about it. I'm wondering if it's a common thing that guys just don't talk about, or if I'm some kind of a freak who really needs help.

Erection response in men is highly variable. Some guys have trouble obtaining and maintaining an erection even with strong erotic stimulation, while others, like you, have spontaneous (or at least very facile) erections even well into adulthood. It is entirely normal to get erections during nonsexual physical contact with others, including children and even animals. Similarly, many mothers have reported feelings of sexual arousal while breastfeeding. While such reflexes may seem "bad" and may make us ashamed (especially in a society that's both hyper-sexualized and uptight about anything sexual), there's really no reason to feel this way, so long as you know and understand that it's only a reflex. Remember, just because you get erections at "inappropriate" times, it doesn't make you a bad person.

I've read that it can be harmful for a penis to be erect for more than 4 hours without a break. Is that true? I've done this a few times, and it doesn't feel any different afterward than if I've had an erection for a much shorter time.

You're probably referring to the warnings on ads for the prescription drug Cialis, which say that an erection lasting more than 4 hours requires immediate medical attention. I believe that statement concerns an unwanted erection — one that persists even after sexual activity or stimulation is over. I don't believe there's anything wrong with having a naturally achieved erection for an extended time, as long as it's sustained by continued stimulation, whether physical or mental. You should only be concerned if the erection won't go down even long after your activities and interest are over.

I am 15 years old, and my foreskin cannot retract past the head of my penis. I learned that this condition is called "phimosis." I read that it's a rare condition that can cause serious problems. This scared me to death. I don't want to get circumcised. The inability to retract my foreskin causes me no problems whatsoever; I can masturbate just fine, I have no problem ejaculating or urinating, and I'm sure that when I have sex it will be completely normal and enjoyable. Is it safe to say that I can just leave my penis the way it is, and not consult my doctor?

If you aren't experiencing discomfort, I don't think you have phimosis, which is a condition that's painful during erection. If your penis continues to grow and you do start experiencing discomfort, then it's time to see a doctor. You won't necessarily need to be circumcised to cure the condition. But as long as your penis feels fine, don't worry about it.

I had surgery last month for prostate cancer. It was successful, except for the post-operative erectile dysfunction. Literature indicated that a vacuum pump can be good therapy to help the penis restore an erection. Your site suggested that all pumping has risk, and it sounded like you recommended no pump at all. Is that true?

For men with severe physical erectile dysfunction, a vacuum pump is okay to help achieve an erection. Ask your doctor for advice on using one, and follow the doctor's directions. Vacuum pumps should not be used by men with healthy sexual function, particularly if the intent is to try to enlarge the penis. This can lead someone to use too strong a vacuum and thereby risk possible damage to the penis.

I'm a 14-year-old uncircumcised male and have been masturbating for about a year. I have noticed a red line on the underside of my penis that looks like a kind of scar. I have no recollection of any operation on my penis. Is the red line related to masturbation?

It's only related in the sense that it's on your penis, and you use your penis when you masturbate. My guess is that you're referring to the raphe, which is the "seam" that forms when the two halves of a male fetus's genitals close up while he is developing in utero. Often the raphe is more visible on the scrotum, but in a lot of guys it extends along the underside of the penis as well.

I recently learned in health class about a disorder called Peyronie's disease, which is an irregular bend in the penis. My teacher says one of the causes is masturbation. Is this true?

No, your teacher is wrong — masturbation does not cause Peyronie's disease. The term refers to a buildup of scar tissue in the erectile tissue of the penis, which causes a sharp bend in the penis during erection. It is most commonly caused by trauma, perhaps sustained during an injury, and generally doesn't develop gradually over time.

Minor bends in the penis are considered normal and don't necessitate treatment. For actual cases of Peyronie's disease, where erection is painful and intercourse is difficult or impossible, medical treatment, which may include surgery, can help.

I am fairly concerned about the shape of my penis. The base is fine, but at the middle of the shaft, it is thicker. Then it goes back down in thickness at the head. This bothers me, and I want to know if there are any ways to fix this, or to just deal with it.

No, buddy — you're stuck with your penis shape. It's not some kind of deformity, it's one of the common variations that occur in males. Rather than inspect your penis for any possible flaw that you can obsess upon and worry about (a trait that, for some reason, seems to be genetically hard-wired into every young man), why not think of all the good things about your penis, and all the pleasure it brings you? You cannot change the shape or size of your penis, period. The sooner you (and everyone else) come to peace with this simple fact, and the sooner you get over your desire to change your penis, the happier you will be with yourself and your body.

What is that large, blue vein called that lies on the dorsal (top) side of the penis?
- age 31, Oklahoma

It's actually called the dorsal vein of the penis. Honest.

I am 14 years old, and I have a large, puffy vein on the surface of my penis. It goes straight and then it curls, and when I am erect, it kind of unravels. I have no problems with it, but I am insecure of the way it looks and of what a girl might think. I am also insecure because I don't know exactly what the vein is. Do you have any idea?

Yes, it's a vein! It's normal! For God's sake, please stop obsessing about the minor anatomical details of your penis!

I know certain parts of the body need certain vitamins and nutrition to grow, but can you tell me what type of nutrition a penis needs to grow?

You're right, kind of, that certain parts of the body need certain nutrients. The bones need calcium to grow and stay healthy, the thyroid gland needs iodine, the fingernails grow better with certain types of protein, and the eyes are believed to develop better with plenty of vitamin A. But the penis doesn't fall into this category. Even though it's an amazing organ, the tissues of the penis themselves — and the nutrients they require — are pretty generic, like most parts of the body. The penis doesn't have any particular nutritional needs any more than your earlobes or your tongue or your ring finger do. That's why it's a lie whenever someone says they have a pill that can make the penis grow larger. Since the penis has no unique nutritional needs, there's no way a pill could "target" its tissues. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would seem if someone tried to sell a pill that would enlarge your ring finger? It's just as crazy to say that a pill, or any kind of nutritional supplement, could make your penis grow larger or make it grow faster.

When I started to masturbate I was merely 19, and now, 3 years later, my penis has enlarged from 6 inches to 8 1/2. Some have said that there is no way to enlarge your penis, but I have to differ with them. I have an enlarged penis to prove my theory and my fact. My goal is 9 1/2 to 10 inches — I'll keep you posted.
- age 22, Kentucky

Congratulations on being happy with your large penis. But I hate to break it to you — masturbation has not made your penis larger. Your penis just took a few years longer to reach its full size than most guys' do. Believe me, for every 50 e-mails I get from people who believe that masturbation made their penis bigger, I get 50 e-mails from guys who think masturbation has stunted their penis growth. Masturbation neither helps nor hinders the growth of the penis. The penis just grows to a certain length, by a certain age, regardless of what you do with it. (Unless, of course, you cut it off. Please don't do that.)

You've mentioned penis-enlargement devices that can have permanent harmful effects, and pills that don't really work. However, I have also seen sites that offer penis-enlargement exercises, and you haven't mentioned what those can do. The penis is a muscle, and like pretty much all muscles in the body, can it not be built up or enlarged through some form of exercise?

No, because the penis is not a muscle. It may feel like a flexed muscle when it's erect, and there are muscles connected to the base, so you may be able to move it around somewhat on its own, but there are no muscles actually inside the penis. (To learn more about what really is inside your penis, read Penis Anatomy & Erection in the JackinLibrary.)

Whenever I have an erection, I notice that some of my penis is actually inside my body — I can feel it. On the outside my penis is about 5 1/2 inches long, but if I count what's on the inside, my penis is about 8 inches. Does everyone have this? Is it penis waiting to grow, or what?
- age 15, Illinois

Nice try! What you're feeling is simply the root of the organ — the penis actually extends far into the body, and I'm sorry to say, won't reveal itself as you grow older. When we talk about erect penis size, we're referring to the visible external portion — although that's never stopped creative men armed with rulers and intent on convincing themselves that they're bigger than they really are.

When my penis is limp, it's only about 2" long and very embarrassing. When it's erect, it's about 6" long and very thick. I get laughed at because of my little penis poking out beneath my pants. Is there anything I can do?

Yes — quit whining! Seriously, your penis is of a very average and normal size, so what's the problem? My advice: Find something else in your life to worry and obsess about, or better yet, stop worrying altogether. When erect my penis is about 5.5" long, so about average. However, it is really thick. I measured with a string around my penis, and the string was 9" long. Well, here's the problem. The other week I bought some Trojan lubricated condoms, regular size. I had an extremely hard time putting one on because I almost could not get it to unroll over the place where the head meets the shaft. What type of condom should I get? I've heard of the "Magnum" and large sizes, but are these longer as well as wider? I don't want extra slack in length, only extra room width-wise.
- age 16, Wisconsin

Large-size condoms are indeed wider as well as longer. If it's too long for your penis, you don't have to unroll the condom all the way. A 9"-circumference penis is definitely unusually thick, but hopefully not so much so that it prevents you from using a condom. In any case, don't use your size as an excuse to have intercourse without a condom. You'd be better off waiting until you're in a monogamous relationship with someone who's on birth control — which actually isn't a bad idea for anyone.

On the underside of my penis, there is a fairly large, bluish-purplish vein that branches out. I think it looks ugly. It's not a problem for me when I masturbate, but I am afraid that when I show a girl my penis, she will think it's funny, or she will be grossed out or something.

Young guys have an amazing ability to obsess about the appearance of their genitals and worry about what others think of them visually. Just remember that all of the features of your penis are natural parts of you, and that if a girl is turned off by a natural, normal part of you, it's her problem — not yours. It's very common for a penis to have visible veins, so stop telling yourself you are some kind of freak because of it. If a girl has serious problems with such a minor aspect of your physical being, she isn't worth dealing with on any level, anyway. And remember, women have the exact same insecurities about their bodies that men have. In a culture where the media seems to reward physical perfection, we just all need to chill out and accept each other for the imperfect but otherwise wonderful organisms we all are.

I used a "penis pump" about a year ago for a period of maybe a month and a half. It has left me with permanent damage that causes me pain, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. My penis skin is thinner, and there is some scarring underneath the head, and the head itself was also somewhat affected. Am I the only guy who used one of these atrocious machines, and is there any relief? I have been to a urologist, but he couldn't recommend anything but a cream, and it doesn't help.

You did the right thing by consulting a medical doctor. Unfortunately if he can't help, we at JackinWorld certainly cannot. I advise you to seek a second or third opinion from other doctors. My guess is that you abused the pump and were too rough with it — but this is exactly why JackinWorld discourages the use of any vacuum device on the penis. They just aren't safe enough. People who use pumps in an attempt to enlarge their penis, or only for pleasure, can really hurt themselves. I'm just sorry you had to be an example for everyone else.

What do you think causes that "squishy" sound that comes from your penis when you masturbate? I can't seem to come up with an answer — got any ideas?

That's a good question! I assume you're talking not about the sound of a lubed-up hand on the penis, but rather the "squishy" sound that sometimes happens even without lube. I think I have the answer. Just inside your penis head, the urethra (the tube that carries urine and semen) widens out a bit, forming a little "reservoir." When you masturbate, that "squishy" sound is air going in and out of the urethra to and from this reservoir. If you secrete a lot of Cowper's gland fluid ("pre-cum"), you may have noticed that it tends to get a little bubbly when you masturbate — that, too, is a result of air entering and exiting in this way.

I am a 22-year-old Asian male and have been masturbating since I was 13. Due to constant masturbation, the color of my penis head has faded over time and now it's white. I am worried about this and want to restore my penis head's original color, which is brown. Is this possible?

First of all, what makes you think masturbation caused your penis head to turn white? I've heard every possible male concern blamed on masturbation. Too big a penis, too small a penis, it curves to the left or right or up or down, body too hairy, too smooth, voice too high, voice too name it. The reason why this happens, I believe, is that for many of us, masturbation guilt is so ingrained into our being that when we notice something, we assume we screwed up our body because we masturbate too much. I think this can happen even with people who feel no obvious guilt from masturbation — the guilt often runs deeper than that. So, I ask, why would masturbation affect just the head of your penis? And you know, the color of your skin isn't exactly painted on — you're brown pretty deep down, and you'd probably bleed to death before you managed to rub off all of your melanin-containing skin.

I'm sure a tattoo artist would be happy to "restore" the color of your penis head (ouch). But ask yourself for a moment: Why? Are you afraid someone will see your "rubbed off" area and realize you masturbate? And even if they do, so what? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

I'm 16 and my penis is only 4 1/2 inches long. I'm getting tense about this. I started masturbating when I was 11, about 3 times a day on average. I thought of a theory that if you masturbate a lot, your penis will stop growing. Is this true?
- age 15, Philippines

No — see the previous question. And see JackinMyths for more masturbation-related untruths.

I'm 14 years old and I have never had an erection. I think I might be able to have one, but I was wondering if it might hurt the first time — if so, can I prevent this?

Erections don't hurt — quite the opposite. Don't let that hold you back. But you should know that it's quite unusual for someone your age never to have had an erection. If you're just a "late bloomer" and haven't started puberty yet, it's probably okay — give it some time. But if you already have some pubic and underarm hair, etc., you should be having erections (spontaneous or otherwise) by now. If you find you're unable to get an erection even when you think about something that arouses you, that's a cause for concern. There may be something physical or physiological (as opposed to psychological) going on. You probably don't have to see a doctor right away, but if it persists you'll need to have the problem addressed eventually, if you want to lead a normal sex life (which includes being able to masturbate normally).

I frequently measure my penis. I am completely open about this with my fiancée. It is 7" long, but I often worry that it is not big enough. I often consider penis enlargement products and techniques (even though I logically know that they don't work), and I discuss this with her. She says she is completely satisfied with penis and sometimes complains during sex that it is too big. She thinks I am just obsessed with my penis in general. What do you think?
- age 18, Nebraska

I agree with her — you're obsessed with your penis. (Of course, most of us guys are obsessed with our penis!) All I can say is there are many, many men who would absolutely kill to have your penis — some probably want to kill you right now because you're unsatisfied with it! And you're right, most of those penis-enlargement products (particularly any kind of pill) are ineffective scams, so stay away from them. It's okay to measure your penis and spend a lot of time thinking about it and looking at it. Just try to keep things in perspective, understand it's significantly larger than average, is more than enough for your girlfriend, is the envy of JackinWorld readers worldwide, and leave it at that.

Three months ago I started doing crunches to develop my abdominal muscles. They were worth it, because now I have bigger abs. But my penis is not hanging as low as it used to. When I have an erection, my penis is just as long as it was before — but when it's soft, it looks shorter now. You can definitely see the difference; I shaved my pubic hair and saw the difference clearly. Could crunches make my flaccid penis appear shorter?

Could be. Your entire genital region is connected to the musculature of your lower abdomen, and toning those muscles may have tightened up the entire region, if you will. But as long as your erect-penis size is the same, does it matter at all? In the locker room, your body probably looks more impressive overall with your newfound 6-pack. And when you get an erection now, your penis will lengthen more than it did before, which could be impressive in itself. Bottom line: You can't have everything!

For about 6 months the skin on my penis has been cracking and peeling. I cut back seriously on my masturbation (to about twice a week), and I changed my technique so I don't touch that area as much, but it doesn't seem to help. First aid creams don't help, either. It has now gotten worse. I'm sort of worried and too afraid to consult a doctor. What should I do?

You may have eczema or psoriasis, which are related, not terribly serious skin conditions. Neither is curable, so if you have one of them, a dermatologist probably wouldn't be able to help much. Eczema and psoriasis tend to come and go rather unpredictably, sometimes depending on the time of year or your stress level. Even if you're an adult, you may outgrow the condition eventually. You might try an over-the-counter ointment called Psoriasin, which can at least manage the problem in some cases. But if it's seriously bothering you or gets much worse, you should see a dermatologist — the doctor may determine it's something else, perhaps something that's completely treatable.

When I inspect the opening of my penis, I see what looks like two openings. One seems to be a tube that runs down the bottom side of the shaft. I have seen both urine and semen come out of this opening. There appears to be another opening, almost in the center of the head, but I haven't seen anything come out of it. Any idea what this opening might be?

It's actually the same opening — the end of the urethra. This is actually a fairly common condition, where the hole at the end of the penis is large or even split in two. Consider it normal.

I'm 14 and recently read a survey about penis size and underwear type. Although the average size was the same for people who wear boxers or briefs, I've noticed that my penis has grown since I switched from briefs to boxer-briefs. Do you think this is from the extra room in boxer-briefs?

You know why your penis has grown? Because you're 14! Penises grow at that age! It has nothing to do with what kind of underwear you use. Some people claim that if you wear boxers all day, your flaccid (non-erect) penis tends to hang a bit lower when you're naked, but even this is unsubstantiated. At any rate, underwear type certainly has no effect on erect penis size or its rate of growth.

I have heard that the penis naturally lubricates itself, but that seems untrue. I've masturbated without lube once, but it didn't feel good. Does this mean that if I receive manual play from a girl who doesn't use lube, I won't enjoy it?

The penis does naturally lubricate itself — on the inside, with a fluid called Cowper's gland secretion. Some guys produce enough of this fluid that it dribbles out of the penis and can be used as a masturbation lube. Others never see it at all. If you're used to masturbating with a lube and you dislike masturbating "dry," you probably won't get full satisfaction from someone else masturbating you without lube. You almost certainly won't be able to reach orgasm without it. Do both of you a favor: Raise the pleasure quotient by incorporating some lube into your play. She'll understand if she herself has masturbation experience.

I'm concerned about the shape of my penis. Fully erect it's 7 inches long — but it curves down a great deal, like a banana and sometimes more. At first I thought it was because I wasn't fully hard. But I did some reading, and I'm starting to think it's because I wear briefs, not boxers. Something on the Internet explained that when you have a erection and it can't expand (as when you wear briefs), the muscle gets damaged. You're the experts — is this shape natural, or should I look toward switching to boxers?
- age 17, Pennsylvania

It is almost certainly natural and has nothing to do with your underwear type. Check out our Science Corner article on Penis Anatomy & Erection — you'll see that most of the penis is made of 3 erectile structures called the corpora cavernosa and corpus spongiosum. (There's no muscle in the shaft part of the penis, so that right there casts a bad light on the Internet source you were reading.) These 3 structures, like most parts of the genitals, grow a great deal during puberty. If all 3 grow to exactly the same size, the penis will be perfectly straight when erect — but if any one grows more than the others, the erect penis will have a curve. This curve is made more noticable due to the fact that when the structures fill with blood, any size differences among them get exaggerated. In your case, the corpus spongiosum is probably a little shorter than the others, causing the penis to curve downward; if one of the corpora cavernosa is smaller than the others, the penis will curve to that side. In any case, there's nothing "damaged" about your penis — and unless the curve is severe (like, 90 degrees of curve), it should not be a problem when you have sex.

I read in Men's Health magazine that coffee helps you achieve a stronger erection. I've tried it myself, and it seems to be true. Does it really work? And if so, what's happening?

The caffeine in the coffee is responsible for the stronger erection. Caffeine is a drug that affects the nervous system. In fact, it overstimulates the central nervous system, which is why people who drink too much coffee have trouble sleeping or get a case of the shakes when they "come down" from a caffeine high. Erections are affected by the autonomic nervous system, which refers to the part of our day-to-day functioning over which we have little or no control, such as breathing. Since caffeine kick-starts the nervous system, it follows that erections will be affected, too. Caffeine also increases the blood pressure and stimulates of the heart, so it tends to get the heart beating and blood pumped to where it is most needed. A word to the wise, though, before you start chugging espresso or popping caffeine pills: Studies have shown that men who consume a great deal of caffeine (as well as those who use tobacco and alcohol) have greater instances of erectile dysfunction than those who consume a moderate amount. A balanced diet, exercise, and positive mindset are all much healthier ways to maintain and enjoy a strong erection.

I am an uncircumcised 15-year-old. Does being uncircumcised stunt the growth of the penis? It's only 5 1/2 inches long when erect.

Don't be ridiculous! An uncircumcised penis is a natural one — all males' penises are uncircumcised when they are born. How could this possibly stunt your growth? Furthermore, you have no reason to be concerned about your size. A lot of guys reading this right now would happily trade their penis for yours. Please, don't obsess so much about the size of your sex organs. That goes for everyone out there.

I'm 16 and am uncircumcised. My foreskin covers the whole head of my penis, and I can't get at anything. Also, the hole in my foreskin doesn't line up with the one in my penis head, so when I masturbate the semen gets stuck in there until I squeeze it out. Is there anything I can do? I am worried about what will happen when I become older and want to start having intercourse.

It sounds like your foreskin is tight — when your penis is erect, you should be able to retract the foreskin, exposing the penis head (glans). Ordinarily when an uncircumcised man is ejaculating, the foreskin is at least partially retracted, so the semen is expelled normally. You may be able to loosen up your foreskin over time by manually stretching the skin while massaging a lotion or oil into it; keep doing this every day until you're able to expose the entire glans easily while your penis is erect. If you're still having trouble, consider talking to your doctor about it. There's a simple office procedure in which a small incision is made in the foreskin, freeing it up. However, be aware that your doctor may try to talk you into getting a full circumcision, which is a major decision and probably isn't necessary. Make sure you fully inform yourself before going through with such a thing — some men who have been circumcised in adulthood later regretted it.

I am 14 years old and have masturbated many times. Now my penis shrinks after I orgasm and ejaculate. I don't mean it only goes limp — it gets much thinner than it was before I masturbated. Later it goes back to normal, but it takes a few days to fully regain its size. Is this normal?

At your age, as I'm sure you know, hormones are raging through your body. When you haven't masturbated in a while, this can result in your penis being in some condition of low-grade erection 24 hours a day. When this happens, your penis isn't necessarily firm or erect but does have some added thickness, since it contains more blood than at other times. After you masturbate, your penis may become completely un-erect for a while. The shape you're seeing is just what your penis is like in a state of non-erection. Then, as time passes, you begin to develop that base-level erection again. Don't worry about it.

I've been masturbating for almost exactly a year, about once a day. One of my concerns is that I often have some chafing or open sores on the line where I have been circumcised. (It happens only if I've been especially active.) Should I try using some lube? I've never used any before. Also, I've heard of a technique called "jelqing," which supposedly was used by Middle-Easterners to enlarge their penises. Can you shed some light?
- age 14, Tennessee

We recommend that you use some kind of lube when you masturbate — it's just much kinder to your penis. It greatly reduces the chances of working up an abrasion, and it lets you go longer and give yourself more pleasure without roughing up the skin on your penis too badly.

As for your second question, there is such a technique, but we haven't looked into its effectiveness or its safety. Why? Because we believe everyone should learn to enjoy and appreciate their own body the way it is — and the pleasure it can provide — rather than try to change it. Always remember that if you try something unsafe and you end up injuring your penis, or affect your ability to get an erection, you could regret it for the rest of your life.

I was making out with my girlfriend — we both had our clothes on and such. But the boxers I was wearing had a metal snap on the fly, and I had forgotten. After a long period of making out, my penis began to hurt. So I took a look at it. It is kind of like a rug burn, except with more of a slicing that comes with metal. It took off an area of skin about one centimeter square. It hurts, and I bandage it to keep it from getting infected and irritated. What a hard area to bandage, though — forget Band-Aids, and the adhesive couldn't be too good for that type of tissue. I have to wrap it with gauze. It's embarrassing because I have to got to take a leak in the stall to hide the bandage. And I can't make out or masturbate! It has been about a week now. and it's healing very, very slow. My girlfriend feels guilty, but it isn't her fault. Is there anything I can do, and should I see a doctor?

You probably don't need to see a doctor, unless it becomes infected or causes an ugly discharge, at which point you should see one right away. I recommend putting some first-aid cream on it, though — that will speed up the healing process. With this kind of thing the only thing to do is wait it out. Anyway, the wait will make you appreciate being healthy again much more.

I masturbate about once a day, and over the past few months I have lost about 2" of skin right under the head of my penis. It is just red there now. I feel really bad about it and would like it to grow back as quickly as possible. I use liquid soap as a lube and squeeze a little tight. What is causing my loss of skin, and how can I get it to grow back?

I'm not sure if this is the problem, but you shouldn't use liquid soap as a lubricant. It is too harsh on skin — especially if it contains an antibacterial ingredient. The skin on the penis is much thinner than on the hands, and the substance was not intended to be rubbed into the skin vigorously for a long period of time (obsessive-compulsive germophobes notwithstanding).

First, switch to a lubricant that isn't harsh — preferably a personal lubricant like K-Y Jelly. Apply either zinc oxide cream or an antibiotic first-aid ointment to the area several times a day. It may help if you abstain from masturbating for a while — or at least try to avoid rubbing that area. If the problem persists, you should probably consult a doctor.

I have been masturbating for a long time. My penis used to be 7 inches long, but now (about 5 months later) it is 6 to 6 1/2 inches long. It is not a huge size decrease, but I want the biggest penis I can get, and I am worried. What should I do? Also, I sometimes use spit as a lube because it feels like oral sex. Is it bad for my skin?

We seriously doubt your penis has gotten permanently smaller. That just doesn't happen (unless someone chops part of it off) — at least as far as we know. It could be that you've changed your measuring method, or perhaps when you measured 7 inches you were particularly aroused and had an unusually strong erection, which will affect size a bit. By the way, saliva is perfectly fine to use as a masturbation lube and shouldn't harm your skin at all.

I have been masturbating since I was 13 and have noticed this kind of red circular blister on my penis. It's sensitive only when I masturbate quite frequently. What is it?
-age 15, Canada

It's probably just that — a kind of blister or friction burn. It will probably go away during a period when you're not masturbating as much. In the mean time, masturbate with some kind of lubrication if you aren't already.

I was reading through my sister's Seventeen magazine and noticed an article about male puberty from a female perspective. They mentioned nocturnal emissions ("wet-dreams") but failed to mention masturbation. They also said the average male penis size is 5 3/4 inches, even though the results of the JackinWorld Surveys have it higher than that. Sometimes I wonder if this is a conspiracy to get men to feel better about themselves — if you say 5 3/4", a man of 6" will be happy with that. Most guys I've talked to seem to agree that 5 3/4" is low (some braggingly, some not). What do you think?

On a related topic, I'm wondering if weight has anything to do with penis size. I'm a meager 115 pounds but feel I am "well endowed." Most larger guys I've seen are smaller. Is there a connection?

Niggling over a quarter inch here or a quarter inch there is incredibly silly! What difference does it make? That said, I'd say the JackinWorld average (about 6 1/8") is significantly close enough to the 5 3/4", especially when you consider we specified a measuring method that was designed to be uniform by way of measuring the penis as "large" as possible.

As for your second question, overweight people do indeed tend to have have "smaller" penises, simply because the base is partially obscured by fatty tissue. I've heard that losing 40 pounds can make the penis "grow" by roughly one inch. (It doesn't actually grow, of course, but it appears longer.)

When I was younger, I could easily give myself pleasure by just touching my penis. Yet for a while now, it has become less and less sensitive. I don't quite know whether it's because of masturbation (I'm a 16-year-old circumcised virgin and I have to rub with a pretty tight — sometimes hurting — grip), or because of the constant friction of my boxers. Sexual stimulation is one of the most wonderful things in life, and I just can't live with the thought of my penis being numb. When I masturbate now, I barely get pleasure from the rubbing (only from ejaculation, and much less than before), and I get aroused much less often. I probably won't be having sex soon, as I am in kind of a depression, and I barely get out of my room. Maybe that contributes to my problem, but I'm sure it's just as much physical as psychological. I've been treating my penis with extreme care for some time now, but I've experienced no results for the better. I'm pretty desperate.

Sometimes a person's penis sensitivity changes over time; sometimes it goes away and comes back. Sometimes sensitivity loss is partly or totally imagined. In any case, it's a good idea not to abuse yourself with very rough technique anymore, since that could be contributing to the problem. I seriously doubt your underwear has anything to do with it. So my recommendations would be to not touch your penis more often than every few days, and when you do, use a lighter grip and enjoy and concentrate on the feelings you do get, as opposed to demanding more and more and gripping harder and harder as a result. That will defeat the purpose. With time and patience you can retrain yourself to masturbate in accordance with what your body is telling you, and hopefully sensitivity will return.

I am a 26-year-old gay male and have masturbated ever since I was 12. I have always masturbated at least 3 to 6 times a day — but when I am with my boyfriend it takes me a long time to reach orgasm, and my penis is not as sensitive as I think it should be. It is very much erect, though. Is it possible I have lost some penis sensitivity? If so, how can I regain it? I have tried not masturbating for 3 weeks and then having sex, but even then I'm still not that sensitive.

Penis sensitivity can vary somewhat from person to person, in both amount and location. On some people the glans (head) is the most sensitive part, for others the skin just behind it, and still for others the skin on the underside of the penis. It's unlikely you reduced your own sensitivity through masturbation, unless you frequently used some kind of violent technique, and as far as I know there's no real way to increase the sensitivity, either.

Actually, a lot of men would be envious of a penis that's less than hair-trigger sensitive. Some people even put mild topical anesthetics on their penis so they can last longer (athough it doesn't feel as good). Also, when two people get together, rarely are they equally sensitive and equally turned on by the same things — that's just stuff you have to learn about the specific person. I don't know if those things make you feel better, but they're worth considering.

I am a 16 and have been wearing briefs my whole life. I have read here in JackinWorld about how underwear relates to penis size [Puberty Survey]. The people who have the longest penises are those who wear nothing. The second longest are those who wear boxers, and the people who wore briefs have the shortest. I would like to change to boxer-briefs, which would get my penis to be more loose than it was in briefs. Will my penis grow or stretch out, or is it too late? And if it does stretch out, by how much?

My guess is your underwear won't have any effect. The differences in averages (that's hundreds of people averaged together) are really small, and there really isn't anything that indicates a true cause-and-effect situation. In other words, changing underwear types is not going to magically cause you to grow a large penis; if it did, the averages in the Survey would be much more dramatic than only a couple tenths of an inch.

In JackinExpert I saw a warning that intense vibration can desensitize your penis. I have used a body massager since I was 12 — as a matter of fact, that's how I discovered masturbation. It broke I while back, and I haven't used one since. Will I regain any sensitivity having not used it for a while? Or is the sensitivity loss permanent? This is the first I have heard of this — although I have noticed the sensations aren't as intense as when I first started several years ago.

I don't have any specific information on this, so don't take my advice as absolute truth. A certain degree of desensitization is entirely temporary, the sensitivity coming back within minutes. But I believe that if you use an intense, artificial stimulation source regularly over an extended time period, you will experience a certain degree of permanent sensation loss. Part (perhaps most or even all) of this may be psychological, since your hand simply can't match the amount of stimulation provided by a machine. I wish there were more empirical data on this phenomenon; if anyone knows of any, please let us know.

My erect penis curves upward by about 30 degrees. It doesn't affect me in any way apart from how it looks. What will girls think?

This is much more common than you think. Don't worry about it. A woman's vagina is highly flexible, so it's not likely to have any anatomical bearing on intercourse.

By the way, girls have exactly the same "what will they think?" concerns about their bodies. Your best bet would be not to get very intimate with someone until your relationship is honest and open enough that your sexual explorations can be relaxed and playful. When that happens, such superficial worries tend to go away.

What is a penis pump? I've heard people talk about them, and I want to try one.

A "penis pump" is a device marketed as either a masturbating machine or a penis enlarger. It applies a partial vacuum to the penis. Beware — I have heard nothing but bad things about them from doctors, so JackinWorld definitely recommends that you stay away from them.

Think about it — your penis is very important to you, right? Why risk injuring it by subjecting it to an artificially created strong vacuum? I certainly would never put my own penis through these harmful conditions, and neither should you.

The same thing goes with using a vacuum cleaner as a masturbation aid. Never do this! You could hurt yourself! Be kind to your penis, and it will provide you the lifetime of pleasure you deserve as a human male.

Almost immediately after I start masturbating, the muscles in my penis begin to contract almost uncontrollably. It causes me to ejaculate very soon, and I think I have a premature-ejaculation problem. Are these contractions normal, or should I try to resist them? And if they are normal, should I continue trying to build to climax and stop just before ejaculation to delay the orgasm?
- age 18, Ohio

I'd say you should try to work with the contractions rather than either ignoring them (which wouldn't solve anything) or resist them (which would probably be frustrating and perhaps ineffective). When you feel your orgasm approaching — even if it starts to happen after only a few seconds — slow down or stop completely and rest. Learn what these contractions are telling you about how your body is reacting to the stimulus, and learn to provide just enough stimulation to keep you "on the edge" — that is, a level of stimulation that causes pleasure without sending you over the edge to orgasm. Keep this up for 10 or 20 minutes and then let go. You need to learn to prolong the stimulation and delay ejaculation if you want to become a good sexual partner.

After I ejaculate, the head of my penis shrinks. The rest of my penis stays erect, so it kind of looks weird. I don't think it's a problem, but it's bugging me.

I've never heard of this condition before, but I can explain what's happening. The penis contains two types of erectile tissue — the corpus cavernosum and the corpus spongiosum. The corpus cavernosum exists mostly in the shaft, but almost the entire glans (head) is made of corpus spongiosum. In your particular case, for whatever reason the spongiosum is draining after you ejaculate but the cavernosum is not. Why? Who knows, but it's probably nothing to be concerned about. (For more about erection and the anatomy of the penis, go here.)

I have bumps on the shaft of my penis near the base. I think they're from masturbating. How you heard of this before? Can I get rid of them?

First, the bumps are not from masturbating. Second, they are very common. Third, no, you can't get rid of them.

The "bumps" have to do with hair follicles — either hair will start to grow out of them soon, or (if you're an adult) they are formed by hair follicles that never actually began growing hair.

Let me once again take this opportunity to stress that masturbating does not cause physical effects in your penis like bumps, different-colored areas, or reduced size. If you make this kind of connection, it means you're assuming there's something wrong with masturbation — that you shouldn't be doing it, and that since you're doing it anyway, you're being "punished" with some kind of physical "defect." Feeling a little guilty about giving ourselves pleasure, are we?

I have strange bumps at the bottom of my penis head. They look like some sort of fungus. I tried washing, but they don't go away! I feel so embarrassed. What should I do?

I have heard many reports of all kinds of bumps on the penis in various places. For now there probably isn't much you can do about them, and they'll probably go away if you're still in puberty. If not, you can have them removed by a dermatologist if you so desire in a simple in-the-office procedure. My advice: Enjoy your penis — don't obsess negatively on it so much!

I am a 15-year-old male with a pimple-looking thing on the side of my penis. It started a couple months ago actually, but lately it's gotten bigger, and the tip turned white and stings when it is touched. It gets in the way of masturbation, and just today a small drop of white fluid came from it. How did I get it? Should I leave it alone and clean it daily, or is it serious? I've never had a pimple or zit so I don't know what they feel like. This has me very worried.

A pimple doesn't hang around for a couple of months; even deep acne, like a boil, heals up after a couple weeks. Anything unusual on your body that doesn't heal needs to be checked by a doctor. If you've been sexually active, it could definitely be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease. If you haven't, it could be anything, though in that case it's less likely to be serious. In any case you should really have it looked at. Things that don't heal, especially after months, definitely call for a visit to the doc.

I'm uncircumcised. What's the white stuff that builds up on the inside of my foreskin? How can I stop it from building up?
- age 18, Massachusetts

The substance is called smegma, and it's a secretion of the glans (head) of the penis. There's no way to reduce the amount of secretion, but the buildup can be easily prevented. In circumcised males, the smegma washes off easily and does not accumulate, but if you're uncircumcised you need to include a simple procedure in your bathing habits. Whenever you bathe, simply retract your foreskin as much as is comfortable, and wash the glans as well as the area of skin behind it. It takes only a few seconds and should reduce or eliminate the buildup you described.

I'm 16 and uncircumcised. I was wondering how one would go about getting a circumcision. I'm really uncomfortable with my foreskin and would like to get it removed. Do you have any suggestions?

Ideally you'd want to discuss it with your parents first, but if you're uncomfortable with that, discuss it with your primary care physician — that is, your family doctor. He would then probably need to talk to your parents (depending on where in the world you live). But you really should do plenty of research on this topic to make sure the decision you make is the right one for you.

My penis is very even has some open wounds. It also sometimes oozes from the skin or the sores. I'm not sexually active, but I do masturbate. Is this normal, and what can I put on it to heal it?
- age 16, New Jersey

If your technique is rather rough and you don't use lubrication, yes — it happens sometimes. You should definitely use lubrication to keep this from happening in the future. As for the sores, try a first-aid cream like Neosporin or zinc oxide to speed the healing of the spots you have now; it will help if you don't masturbate for a few days. But if you do, use a lube.

A while ago I masturbated to some adult films and worked a part of my foreskin raw. It healed, but now the patch of skin on my penis is thin, and all it takes is one masturbation session and it gets sore again. It's been this way for a month and a half. I'm scared I've hurt myself permanently.

I would recommend applying a first-aid ointment to the area a couple of times a day and refraining from masturbation for as long a period as possible in order to allow it to heal completely. When you do masturbate, be careful and use a lubricant. I doubt you've hurt yourself permanently — but if you're absolutely unable to make the area heal for good, consult a doctor.

I have heard that if a guy masturbates a lot, his penis becomes less sensitive, and that when he is trying to have sex with a woman it is hard for him to ejaculate because the vagina isn't as rough as the hand. Is this true? If I stopped masturbating for a while, would my penis become more sensitive?

It's probably true that if you didn't masturbate for quite a while (like several weeks), your penis would probably become a little more sensitive. But I doubt it would be that significant — and certainly not worth the anguish of going that long without masturbating, if refraining is difficult for you.

Bear in mind, though, that there are other differences between masturbating and having sex, and these might help to balance things out. When you're having sex, you're with another person whom you can touch and do other things with — and that can create a level of excitement not usually possible with masturbation. Also, the ability to delay ejaculation is actually good in male-female sex — it allows her to get more stimulation for a longer period of time, which will almost certainly make it more pleasurable and fulfilling for her.

I need to know how to make my penis bigger! I have a girlfriend who wants a penis about 7 inches long. I have heard of creams, pumps, operations, and sex drops that can make your penis up to three inches bigger! That would make me 9 1/5 inches (a little extra for her and little more pleasure for me)! How can I get these products at my age — and if I can buy condoms, how come I can't buy the creams, pumps, or sex drops?
- age 15, Michigan


I am from Budapest, and my problem is I have a very small penis. I am always embarrassed in the locker-room showers, hearing boys tease me about the small size of my wee-wee. My mates call me "Short Dick Boy" or "Futyike." (That is a child's nickname for a baby boy's penis in Hungarian, just like "Petit Zizi" in French or probably "Teenie Peenie" in English.) How can I make it bigger and better?
- age 17, Hungary

I hate to break it to you, guys, but there is no way to make your any penis bigger than it is, with the possible exception of an expensive operation which is primarily intended for adult men with penises much smaller than average. There is a lot of societal pressure on boys to have large penises, and it's so ingrained in males' minds that unscrupulous companies are able to make big bucks advertising products that claim to enlarge your penis. They just don't work, and some can even be harmful. Believe me, you're much better off with your present penis than one that's permanently injured by some so-called penis-lengthening device.

My penis is only 5 3/4 inches long. Do you think it will get any bigger, or is there anything I can do to make it bigger?
- age 16, Maine

Relax — your penis is plenty big enough. At your age, it might still have some growing to do — but there really isn't any way to make it bigger, nor any need to.

My penis is about 6 inches long. My friend told me that if you take a lot of zinc before and after puberty, it will increase your penis size. Is this true? He also told me about having an orgasm without ejaculating. What is this called, and how can it be done? And most of all, is it safe?
-age 15, South Carolina

Taking zinc, or any nutrient for that matter, may affect your penis (and body) size, but probably not by much. Assuming all other factors are equal, if one identical twin has poor nutrition and the other has excellent nutrition, the better-nourished one will tend to grow taller and develop more fully. So even though you'll never know exactly what effect it's having, it never hurts to eat your vegetables!

On your second question, there are a few techniques that can result in orgasm without ejaculation, or extended orgasmic states. But we generally don't go into them here on JackinWorld, because these techniques are advanced and tricky to perform safely. We don't want anyone getting hurt trying exotic, delicate techniques, so we advise you just to keep enjoying your normal ejaculations like everyone else.

I'm 18 years old, but my penis is only 3.5 inches long when erect. I'm self-conscious about it, so I don't shower in the school showers or go skinny-dipping with my friends. Could there be something wrong with it? The other male members of my family are huge compared to me. Also, will I still be able to fulfill a woman with such a small penis?
-age 18, Texas

Your penis is smaller than average, but it isn't that small. I seriously doubt there's anything "wrong" with it, although it never hurts to discuss any personal health concerns with your doctor. You should still be able to satisfy women — especially if you make use of alternative types of stimulation, such as oral techniques. In fact, everybody could do more of that — right, girls?

My penis is 9 inches long erect, and 5 1/2 inches limp. No matter what anybody says, I know that's too big for my age, or almost anybody's age. My question concerns the hormones pumped into animals these days to stimulate growth and food production (e.g., cows for milk and turkeys for roasting). Could this possibly be the culprit of my over-adequate size?
- age 14, Washington

I'm not a doctor, but I'd say that's next to impossible. First, you're eating the same beef, turkey, and milk that everyone else is eating, so wouldn't everyone your age have the same condition? Second, if the concentrations of artificial hormones were high enough to affect penis growth (which I'm not even sure they could), you'd be experiencing other symptoms — like abnormally dense body hair, or acromegaly (abnormal accumulation of bone mass).

While you may consider your penis too large, it's a part of you, and you should learn to accept it. In fact, try to be thankful, because your health could be in a lot worse shape than it is now.

My penis is 9 3/4" long and 6" limp. I'm 17 years old and finished puberty. When I get horny when I'm at school, or at a beach or any other public place, you can tell I have an erection. (I don't wear any shorts that are shorter than my knees, just in case.) It was spotted a few times in the locker room, and I feel embarrassed about it. The girls love it, but I always "hit rock bottom" [reach the end of the vagina], and that's no fun for me. Is there a way I could decrease my penis to about 8" or maybe 7", or anything else I can do?

Though it's impractical and unhealthy, the only real way I know is to gain a lot of weight. It's been said that if you're very overweight, losing 40 pounds can increase your apparent penis size by as much as an inch ("apparent" because it was there all the time, only surrounded by fatty tissue). So, the inverse is probably true. But gaining 80 pounds is obviously not the ideal solution. You might want to ask your doctor — I've never heard of a penis-size reducing operation, but perhaps it does exist.

Does a person who hit puberty early have a bigger penis than a person who hit puberty late?
- age 15, Hawaii

I don't think there's any correlation. But perhaps that's something we can explore in a later JackinWorld survey dealing with puberty and development.

What is the average circumference of a penis?
- age 16, Illinois

Somewhere around four or five inches — but it varies widely, just like penis length.

I was wondering what the average size was of a flaccid [soft] penis. Mine is about four inches long. Is that small?
- age 15, Maine

The size of flaccid penises actually varies much more than that of erect penises. If you've seen other guys your age in the showers at school, you probably noticed there's a wide variety of penises. Yet, if you were see these boys with erections, you'd see their penises would be much closer in size. Small ones tend to get much bigger when they're erect, and the longer ones just tend to straighten out and get hard. I don't have an average figure for you — it's really impossible to measure anyway, because even on the same person the flaccid penis can change in size dramatically depending on a bunch of factors, such as temperature — but four inches is well within the "normal" range.

What is the correct way to measure your erect penis? I have tried several different ways, and it comes out between 6 1/2 to almost 8. What am I doing wrong?
- age 16, New York

There isn't really a standard method, but a good one I've read goes as follows: Get your penis as erect as possible. While it's still fully erect, push it down (if necessary) so it's sticking straight out from your body. Then lay a ruler over the top surface, and press the end of the ruler directly against your pubic hair, as far as it will go. Measure to the very end of your penis, making sure it's still sticking out from your body with no angle at all. With this method, you can measure it to the millimeter, and it'll be the same exact length every time. (If it's not still growing, anyway.)

Will weight training decrease your penis size?
- age 15, Washington

No. There are a couple of places where this myth may have come from. First, steroids — dangerous muscle-building drugs used by some bodybuilders — have been known to cause the genitals to shrink, although weightlifting by itself does not. Second, large bodybuilders may appear to have small genitals when viewed in skimpy bikini bottoms — but that may be only in proportion to the rest of their bodies.

Is masturbation exercise for the penis, and if so, will it make mine bigger? Mine's only 6", and one time I saw my brother's, and his penis is huge.
- age 16, Washington

Sorry, but masturbation will not increase the size of your penis. If it did, there would be some pretty big penises out there!

I have masturbated for over a year, and it seems my penis is bending to the left side. Do all guys' penises do that?
- age 14, Iowa

This is very common and may result, in part, from masturbation. It's harmless and will not have any effect on your sex life, though, so don't worry.

My friend's penis curves upward when it is erect, and mine doesn't. Why is that? Our penises are the same size.
- age 16, Pennsylvania

Every penis is built a little differently. Some curve down, and some curve to the left or right when erect. If it provides pleasure, it shouldn't matter what shape it is.

My penis gets very hard and lies flat against my stomach, sometimes making it difficult to masturbate. Any suggestions?
- age 16, Scotland

This could be a problem later on in your sex life, so you should work on it a little now. It may be uncomfortable "prying" your erect penis from your abdomen, but work on it a bit. Your penis will need a good deal of room on all sides when you're having intercourse, so if you can gradually get it more mobile, you'll be in better shape later on.

When I masturbate a lot, the skin on my penis gets all dry. What can I do about it? I love masturbating so much.
- age 17, Idaho

This is fairly common, especially in the winter months when the air is dry. You can keep your penis moist by regularly using a skin moisturizer (such as hand lotion), or by using hand lotion as a lube. (See JackinHow-To.)

Sometimes after masturbating, my penis gets very tender and stings in some areas when I touch it. What should I do about it?
- age 13, Pennsylvania

It sounds like you masturbate dry, without lubrication, and that you use a fairly tight grip. Unlike other parts of the body, the penis won't develop calluses. The skin of a penis is thin (a good thing — if it weren't it wouldn't feel as good), and it wears away earlier, leaving raw spots after a tough masturbation session. I recommend using lubrication; see JackinHow-To for more details.

I've noticed that usually after my friends ejaculate, their penises get soft. Mine doesn't go down, and I have to keep masturbating until I ejaculate again to get it down. What gives?
- age 16, New Jersey

It sounds like your body is just built a little differently. It probably seems like a hassle, but some guys would kill to have that ability to keep going!

Lately my penis has been getting hard all the time, even when I don't think about sex at all. It seems to have a mind of its own. What can I do about it? I masturbate 3 or 4 times a day, but that doesn't stop me from getting erections all the time. It's really embarrassing sometimes — at school, when I've got a bulge in my pants, I imagine everyone is staring at it.
- age 14, Australia

Welcome to puberty! You're describing one of the most common experiences of a boy's teenage years. There are some ways to help this problem, though. Wear tighter underwear (briefs) and less revealing pants, and if you feel yourself start to get an erection, discreetly put a hand in one of your pockets and move your penis so it's pointing to the side. It also helps sometimes to keep your hands in your pockets, so you can hold your penis in this position. Other than that, good luck!

Are more boys circumcised or uncircumcised in the U.S.? In the world? Do uncircumcised boys need to use lubrication, too, or is that just for circumcised guys?
- age 14, Texas

I don't have the exact statistics, but I believe most newborn infants are still routinely circumcised although the number goes down each year. In most parts of the world, boys are rarely circumcised. Outside the U.S., circumcision is common only in countries that are primarily of the Muslim or Jewish religions. Most uncircumcised guys have no need for lubrication, although some use it anyway.

Is it true that uncircumcised penises are more sensitive?
- age 14, Oregon

That's a subject of some debate, as is the question of whether large penises feel better to their owners than smaller ones. But many men who have been circumcised late in life assert that their sensitivity was better before the operation, and for years there has been a movement to eliminate the routine circumcision of infants. (For more on circumcision, see Question of the Week.)

I am uncut [uncircumcised], and I take great pleasure in being uncut. I believe it helps during masturbation to give, like, a third hand.. Anyway, I have heard rumors around school about women refusing to be with guys who are uncut. Is this true?
- age 15, Maryland

It's probably just what you say — rumors. Some girls do have preferences, and perhaps may have difficulties learning to do certain sexual things with them if they've never played with an uncircumcised penis before — but it would be extreme to say they'd "refuse" to "be with" uncut guys.

I'm the only boy in my gym class with foreskin on my penis. I get teased about it a lot, although I like the feeling when I masturbate. Some of the guys asked me to show them how I slide the skin back — they all laughed, but a couple of them got erections while watching me. Do you think they are just jealous? Or should I ask my dad if I could have the foreskin cut off?
- age 13, Minnesota

Listen — a lot of grown circumcised men are envious of guys like you, so leave your penis the way it is. Uncircumcised guys all report a great feeling when the foreskin moves across the head of the penis, so you should be happy you're one of them. And as far as those other guys are concerned — consider them just jealous, okay?

I am uncircumcised, and when I get an erection, my foreskin is never pulled back far enough to show the entire head of my penis — my foreskin is fairly tight. Sometimes when I'm "really" hard it will pull back and I'll be able to see the hole in the end of my penis. But when I masturbate, it feels great to rub the head of my penis with my foreskin. I've seen pictures of other "uncut" guys who look "cut" once they have an erection. What gives?
- age 18, Canada

It just depends on the anatomy of your particular penis. For some uncircumcised men, erection naturally exposes the head of the penis, and for others, you have to pull back the foreskin to see it. If retracting the foreskin is very uncomfortable, it is probably too tight and you should see a doctor.

I am 13 years old and not circumcised. After I masturbate a few times (three or four times in one day, or even if I do it only once a day for three or four days in a row), my foreskin gets really sore, and it hurts to masturbate. It also turns red on the very end and appears to have little cuts around it. The foreskin slides back very easily when I'm not erect, but it is tight when I am erect. What can I do to stop this from happening, other than not masturbating?

Your foreskin is probably too tight. There is a simple procedure a doctor can perform that can greatly increase your comfort; it involves making a slight incision in the foreskin. (Whatever you do, do not try this at home!) In the mean time, though, try putting some Vaseline on your foreskin before masturbating. That might help to keep it from becoming irritated. In the mean time, apply some first-aid ointment, like Neosporin, to help it heal.

I am looking for the name of a medical condition in which the foreskin is too tight for the penis (I think it starts with a "p"). I think I read on JackinWorld that this condition would necessitate an emergency circumcision — the removal of the entire foreskin. However, I also read there's a procedure that can be done in the doctor's office that leaves the foreskin nearly completely intact. Which of these is correct?

I believe you're thinking of "phimosis." There are various medical ways to approach the problem, but you need to consult with a doctor. Different doctors have different opinions on how the condition should be approached. If your doctor diagnoses phimosis and recommends circumcision, but you don't want one, get a second opinion — or a third. Try to do what you think is right for your penis, in consultation with a doctor you trust.

Is my penis unclean? Do I need to wash my hands after I masturbate?
- age 17, Canada

If you get lube or semen on them, perhaps — but in terms of germs, the penis is actually one of the cleaner parts of your body. (Unless you have a sexually transmitted disease, anyway.) In fact, your own mouth has many more bacteria in it than does the surface of your penis.

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