05 November 2009

Penis 101

What is it with men and their penises? We joke and brag about them all the time, but when it comes to understanding how they actually work, most of us are pretty clueless.


I often wonder about men and their penises. We joke about them, brag about them, feel embarrassed by them and name them after dead American Presidents. Women content - perhaps with some justification - that we use them more frequently than our brains when it comes to decision making. Psychologists have us believe that girls envy them, but feminists decry them as sexual and cultural weapons. In the era of HIV/AIDS they've become the real Weapons of Mass Destruction in our society.

Basic functions

So why is it that when penises are constantly on our minds, the vast majority of men know so very little about them? Of course we all know the two basic penis facts:

1. Drink too much beer and eventually urine will gush out the front end.

2. Become sexually aroused, get an erection and there are several mechanisms to eject a sticky fluid out in the same direction.

Beyond these rudimentary insights, however, most of us are essentially clueless.

Girls vs. Boys

Compared to the detailed medical understanding that most teenage girls have of their entire reproductive system, we guys wallow in the depths of ignorance. You know what it's like: give your girlfriend or wife a chance to elaborate and they launch straight into fallopian tubes this and ovarian cysts that, leaving you utterly befuddled. Ask any grown man about the whereabouts of the epididymis or the corpora cavernosa, on the other hand, and all you'll get are blank stares.

You see, for all the macho bravado and enthusiasm most blokes exhibit when it comes to telling cock jokes, most of us don't actually like talking about our penises. Not with our partners, not with our mothers, not with our doctors and most certainly not with our mates.

From around the time when they get their first period, most girls are initiated into a process of lifelong education concerning their private parts - at special school classes, through regular gynae visits and most importantly by talking to their mothers and other women around them. Guys don't benefit from anything even remotely comparable. I don't know about you, but my dad certainly never sat me down for an informal chat about things going on "down there".

An introduction to your penis

"So what!?" I hear you complain. "Most women don't know the first thing about crankshafts, the off-side laws in rugby or braaing either." The point is, of course, that should you wake up one morning and find that yesterday's one-night-stand left you with the Cooties, or your wife looks at you accusingly because after months of trying you've still not managed to impregnate her with your long-awaited first-born, you may regret knowing so little about the inner workings of your own nether regions.

So in the spirit of public education and brotherly solidarity we have decided to put together a couple of articles to give you the lowdown on the penis. Nothing gross, don't worry. Just some basic information - a "Penis 101" of sorts:

How the penis works
How an erection happens
What's wrong with my penis?
Penis resources
Penis size per country
The lowdown on the penis
The lowdown on your testicles
Your foreskin
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)


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