Lots of people who have a penis know what they can look like, but there’s more than meets the eye! The penis is part of a complex system that does a lot of different things!
While we think of the penis as one thing, it actually has a lot of different parts.
The top of the penis
- The glans, or head, is the “tip” of the penis. It can be circumcised or uncircumcised. If it’s uncircumcised, it will be covered by a thin layer of loose skin, known as the foreskin. When someone is circumcised, someone surgically removes their foreskin and the skin of the glans gets drier.
- The urethra. This is the tube where pee comes out of. The opening of the urethra is in the tip of the glans. The urethra also transports pre-cum and ejaculate.
The rest of the penis
- The shaft is the length of the penis, leading from the base to the glans. Inside the shaft are two columns of tissue called the corpus cavernosum. When someone’s turned on, these columns fill with blood and the penis gets bigger and harder. This is called an erection. . This is what makes erections stiff. During an erection, a third column of tissue also fills with blood in order to keep the urethra open. This is called the corpus spongiosum.
- Below the base of the shaft are the testicles. These look and feel like two round balls covered in loose tissue. The testicles are where sperm is produced. They also help the body produce and regulate certain hormones, like testosterone.
Is my penis normal? How can I tell?
Penises come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to know that most penises don’t stop growing until the end of puberty – which can last until you’re 25!
Lots of people worry about whether or not their penis is “normal”. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way for one to look. Penises of all shapes and sizes can feel and give sexual pleasure. Some penises are curved, while others are straight. Some are thick, while others are long. The important thing is that your body is healthy, regardless of whether or not it looks like someone else’s body.
There are some medical conditions that can affect how a penis looks. Many of these medical conditions can affect your ability to get an erection, have an orgasm, or do other things with your penis. If you’re having pain or discomfort when you do things like masturbate or go pee, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor. They can tell you what’s going on, and help find solutions. You might also want to see a doctor if you notice changes in the skin on your penis, like a rash. Other things it can be good to talk to a doctor about include if your foreskin feels very tight, or you often have a hard time getting erect.
Understanding and caring for your body
Knowing about your reproductive organs and genitals is part of understanding how your body works. Having this information can help you identify health problems earlier. It can also make you feel more confident about your body! And it can help you learn what feels good for you.
Taking care of your penis is like taking care of any other part of your body. You should wash it gently when you take a shower or bath. Use a mild soap, like you would on any other sensitive body part. Soaps that contain certain ingredients, like eucalyptus, can irritate the skin on your glans. Try to pay attention to how it feels when you pee, have sex, or masturbate. It’s also a good idea to check your testicles for lumps once a month, especially if you’re an adult.
For more on penises and sexual health, check out the resources below!
Innies & Outies: The Penis, Testes and More
Information on the anatomy of the penis, foreskin, scrotum and prostate gland. Also discusses average penis size and urination.
Penis size and shape lowdown – Scarleteen
Scarleteen’s article “Shown Actual Size: A Penis Shape & Size Lowdown” discusses one of the most common sexual health topics : penis size and shape. Here you’ll find information and answers to real questions they’ve received.
An About.com article on phimosis, a condition of the penis where the foreskin cannot be retracted. Discusses causes, symptoms and treatment of the condition.
Taking care of your business (Anatomy) — Heart your parts
Heart your parts gives physical descriptions of the different sexual parts of the body, how they experience pleasure, and how to take care of them physically. Links to: vulvas and vaginas, penises and testes, anuses and rectums, throats.