At some point, most men wonder: “Is my penis normal?” or “Is semen supposed to look like that?” Chances are, the answer is yes. Normal and healthy penises come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.
Most penises are roughly the same color as the rest of the person’s skin. That said, many men have penises that are darker, with a brownish or reddish appearance. It’s also possible for a penis to be lighter than the skin on the rest of the body. Getting aroused can also cause the penis to look darker for a brief period of time.
Some men have dark spots on their penis. For many men, this is a normal part of their skin. However, your primary care doctor or dermatologist should check any new spots or blemishes that don’t go away quickly.
Although it isn’t too common to bruise your penis, it certainly can happen. Bruising that goes away relatively quickly generally isn’t dangerous. However, dark purple or blue bruising that spreads, especially following a painful injury, warrants medical attention because there can be long-term damage to erection.
Generally speaking, if your penis has been a certain color “for as long as you can remember” then it’s probably fine. However, if there’s a new change in color accompanied by pain – especially with redness and swelling – go see your doctor.
Most penises aren’t perfectly smooth. It’s common for the veins on a penis to be visible and even pop out a bit, especially when aroused. Many penises also have hair follicles on the shaft, which feel like tiny bumps. As long as the bumps are small and not unusually red or irritated, they’re probably benign hair follicles or natural bumps, such as pearly penile papules or fordyce spots.
Pearly penile papules are tiny, smooth bumps on the head of the penis. They generally appear in young adulthood and are common; about 25 percent of men have them. They’re completely harmless and cannot be sexually transmitted.
Fordyce spots are small, light red or skin-colored bumps on the shaft or scrotum. These bumps occur in at least 50 percent of men. They’re completely natural and harmless and cannot be sexually transmitted.
However, larger and irritated bumps can signal a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as penile warts, so contact your doctor if you’re concerned.
It’s also possible to get a rash on your penis that’s not caused by an STI. Harsh soaps, fragranced laundry detergents and even too much friction from sex or masturbation can cause skin irritation. If the irritation doesn’t go away in a few days, see a doctor – especially if you’re sexually active. You could have an STI or jock itch, a fungal infection resulting from too much moisture. In most cases, jock itch is easily treated with topical antifungals.
Yes, penis size does vary, as does scrotum size. In the United States, the average erect penis size is 5 to 7 inches long, with a circumference of about 4 inches and diameter (or width across) of up to 2 inches.
Most flaccid penises range between 1 and 4 inches. This means some men gain a lot of length when they get an erection, while others gain an inch or two. When cold or swimming in cold water, a penis can actually pull up inside the body, but will lengthen when warmer. All of this is normal.
Some penises naturally hang to one side or the other. Some penises also have a slight bend to them, even when erect. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, especially if the bend has been present since infancy. However, if your penis changes from straight to bent, it’s possible that you have Peyronie’s Disease, which is a treatable buildup of a harmless plaque.
Fun fact: Studies have shown that 85 percent of women are happy with the size of their partner’s penis, while only 45 percent of men are happy with their own size. This shows that most men who are self-conscious about their penis size shouldn’t be! There’s a wide range of normal and healthy penis sizes, so don’t make judgments about the sizes of others’ or your own.
Some men have circumcised penises while others have intact foreskin. Both are accepted and common in U.S. culture. A man with an intact foreskin simply has a thin layer of skin that covers the head of his penis. When aroused, the foreskin usually retracts.
Keep the foreskin clean because sweat, oils and dead skin cells can build up under it. This buildup can form a white or yellowish pasty substance called smegma. Smegma is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Just wash it away when you take a shower to avoid getting a yeast infection.
When a man gets aroused and comes, he releases ejaculate or semen. The amount of semen a man usually ejaculates is less than a teaspoon, but this can vary.
Ejaculate is usually a whitish color, although some men do have yellowish semen. If there’s pain upon ejaculation or you’re unable to ejaculate, see a doctor. Ejaculate that has blood or a greenish tint should also be checked out.
Semen comes in a variety of consistencies and textures. At times, it may be thicker and clumpier than usual. Generally, this isn’t anything to worry about. These variations are influenced by the last time the person ejaculated, how aroused they were and even what he ate earlier in the day.
Remember, you can always talk to your doctor if you’re concerned that there might be a problem.
Reviewed by: Jen Hawkins, MPH
Last reviewed: December 2019