Erections – Surprising Facts That You Don't Already Know

Just because you have a penis, it doesn't mean you know everything about it. Many people own a car, but have no idea about the kingpin offset or the components of the alternator.
Below, we provide 5 surprising facts about erections to get the brain cogs turning...
  1. Penises can break

Whilst the penis isn’t a bone, it can still ‘break’. The term used is a ‘penile fracture’ which can happen during sexual intercourse, usually when the penis is being thrust into a hard surface such as the perineum (the area between the vulva (the labial opening to the vagina) and the anus).

A penile fracture is caused by the blood vessels in the penis bursting. Symptoms include severe pain and bruising and swelling. Usually a fracture will be accompanied with a popping sound.

Data from the NHS suggests that up to one-third of penile fracture cases occur when the partner is on top. The standard procedure for treating a penile fracture involves an operation under general anaesthetic wherein incisions are made to the penis so the tears can be stitched back together.

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  1. The average erection is 5.2 inches (13.2 cm) long 

According to one study published in the British Journal of Urology International, the average length of a flaccid penis is 3.6 inches accompanied with an average girth of 3.7 inches. Meanwhile, the average length of an erect penis is 5.2 inches with an average girth of 4.6 inches.

Note to oneself… all length measurements were made from the pubic bone to head (tip) of the penis (additional length provided by foreskin was not counted) whilst the circumference was measured either at the base of the penis or around the middle of the shaft (both deemed equivalent).

Interestingly, the researchers concluded that there was no evidence suggesting a correlation between penis size and physical features such as height, body mass index, or even shoe size.

The NHS quotes a study of 50,000 men and women that found that 45% of men would like a bigger penis. In contrast, a much higher percentage, 85% of women, were satisfied with their partner’s penis size. The takeaway is that guys should be happy with what they’ve got.

  1. The world’s largest erection is 13.5 inches (34 cm).

The accolade of the world’s largest erection lies with the American Jonah Falcon, who is said to have a penis that when flaccid measures 9.5 inches (24 cm) and when erect is well over 1 foot long (12 inches in a foot).

Falcon came the attention of the media in 1990 when he appeared in a HBO documentary, Private Dicks: Men Exposed. He hit the airwaves again in 1993 after the Rolling Stone magazine devoted a feature piece to him.

Falcon has at times claimed that porn star John Holmes is his biological father, also renowned for the size of his package, although this has yet to verified. He has also fought off claims that Roberto Esquivel Cabrera of Mexico has a longer penis of 19.5 inches, stating his use of weights to stretch his penis was disqualifying.

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  1. Erections aren’t required for orgasm

Men who can’t achieve erections may still have orgasms. This is great news for anyone who struggles with getting it up, including those suffering from stress or hormone imbalances.

Known as ‘energetic orgasms’ these orgasms are created by using deep breathing and intense focus on the senses. Vibrator usage on the head of penis is often helpful as it can stimulate the nerves in the penis and increase the signals being sent to the brain.

  1. Men have between three to five erections per night

Every night while you’re sleeping, your penis is hard at work. The average man experiences between 3 and 5 erections per night’s sleep, each lasting between 25-30 minutes. The morning glory therefore shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. It’s the last in the series of night-time erections.

Whilst the science underlying night-time erections is not fully understood, it is believed they take place during the phase of sleep known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is when brain activity increases, promoting learning and when dreaming is most common.  

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Written by Mike Firth, GP and Medical Director

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.