Penis size and female sexual pleasure
I want to talk about one of the things that might lead to female sexual satisfaction, and that's the penis size of the man.
I know this is an old subject, but it's still a fascinating one, because if you look on the Internet you can see how obsessed men and women alike are the implications of the effect of the different sizes of the male organ during intercourse.
One of the more interesting studies on the subject was conducted by Russell Eisenman at the University of Texas, who cleverly recruited two popular male undergraduates to go around the campus talking to women whom they knew to be sexually active -- that is to say, not any women, but 50 female undergraduate college students, who they thought were sexually active.
One of great advantages of this approach is that familiarity would have been very likely to produce valid answers to the questions asked of the women: if a male professor had asked the same questions, or if the questions had been asked in a scientific settings such as a psychology research lab, it's unlikely that the same sort of open and honest answers would have been achieved.
We know that the paper which came out of Eisenman's work, although brief, does indeed represent a summary of the opinions of a certain set of women at a certain point in time (and in fact this was the year 2000 - or, at least, that was when Eisenamn's study of "Female perception of sexual satisfaction according to penis size" was published).
Eisenman was fascinated by the fact that Masters and Johnson had said that the width of the erect penis was not usually a key determinant of how satisfied a woman was during sexual intercourse; they said this was because during sexual arousal, a woman's vagina actually opens out to accommodate any size of penile shaft.
What they meant by this was the vagina is a virtual space, which needs the entry of a penis to separate its walls, so it makes sense that almost any size of penile shaft would offer the same level of satisfaction and pleasure to a woman in terms of physical feeling during the act of intercourse.
However Masters and Johnson also went on to say that women in their research facility has also observed that it's not penis size so much as how skillfully the man on the end of the tool actually uses it that determines sexual pleasure.
The implication of this is that Masters and Johnson thought penis size was minor factor in sexual satisfaction.
So a question that it would be interesting to consider -- but was not covered in this particular study -- would be to ask women to rank in order of importance exactly what it is that causes them to feel "satisfied" during sex.
So, for example, this would include romantic feelings, the technique of their lover, the dimensions of the penis, the level of physical attraction they felt, and so on.
That would enable us to get a complete picture of what it is that provides female sexual satisfaction during lovemaking, rather than the one-dimensional approach of asking women if they prefer a longer or a thicker penis. Men's Health try to find out what women think.
It was in fact this latter approach which Eisenman adopted in his study, but even though it's limited in the way described above, the study does break new ground in that it actually looks at the relative importance of penile width and length as one of the factors in female sex sexual satisfaction.
Of course, one of the limitations of such a piece of work is that it's based on self-reports; in other words, on the women's perceptions of sexual satisfaction as they experience it rather than their actual level of physical arousal and orgasmic potential.
You also need to consider issues that are specific to every couple, for example, the orientation of the genitals: how near is a woman's clit to her vaginal entrance? How much does a man's penis stretch the walls of her vagina? And so on. How much does penis size contribute to female sexual pleasure?
In the end, it's probably quite right to make the choice to go with the women's level of perceived satisfaction, because after all this is what actually contributes to the pleasure of sex -- for both men and women!
The other limitation of the study has been pointed out is that the women undergraduates who were asked about the relative merits of penile length versus penile size were selected by two male undergraduates who claimed to know that the women were sexually active.
It was of course the men's opinion that the women were sexually active because they didn't specifically ask about this: it was just their perception that they were sexually active.
However, having said all this, the work was a groundbreaking study of one of the major factors relating to women's sexual pleasure in bed, and although it's hard to believe that the degree to which a woman felt she was in love or romantically attached to the man on the end of penis would not make a difference to her physical pleasure during sex, the results were still interesting.
Of the 50 women undergraduates who were asked about their relative preference for penile length or width, 45 and said that width felt better and only five said that length gave them more pleasure.
None of them said they couldn't tell the difference, although some observed that sex in a relationship was better than sex without commitment, which points to the importance of other factors in female perception of sexual pleasure.
As Eisenman himself observes, Masters and Johnson could have been correct in making the point that while the vagina is a potential space and therefore size of the penile shaft should have no impact on physical pleasure, but this assumption might not be valid if the women were reporting their psychological preference and not a true physiological response.
Anyway, why would a thicker penis be preferred to a longer one? It's possible there are some ideal sex positions for men with a long or short penis.
The answer is that a thicker penis may be important either because it provides greater tension within the vagina or because it provides greater clitoral stimulation.
This could happen simply because a thicker shaft has a larger surface area near the place where it touches the clitoris when the man thrusts during intercourse; in other words, the pleasure results from a simple mechanical point: a wider penis offers a greater area with which it may contact the outer part of the vagina including the general area of the clitoris.
Note, however, that if this is the case then a man's penis size does indeed provide some degree of female sexual satisfaction. (Again, bear in mind that a woman's satisfaction during sex might also come from the psychological pleasure of knowing that it was "her" man who was inside her body, making love to her.)
Most likely, however, at least in the current writer's opinion, is the fact that a wider penis would provide a woman with a greater sense or feeling of "fullness" and this has been reported many times by women as sexually satisfying.
It's also very obvious that some other factors are extremely important in a woman's sexual pleasure, and not the least of them is the duration for which intercourse lasts.
Penis size hardly matters if a man ejaculates really quickly during sex; it follows that the more control a man has over premature ejaculation, the higher a woman will rate him as a lover, regardless of size.
One wonders if the college women in question had enough sexual experience to consider all the relevant factors?