They say dicks come in all shapes and sizes—but do they? According to one BuzzFeed story, for which the writer spoke to one urologic surgeon, Dr. David Shusterman, they don’t. Instead, the good doctor insists every penis on earth fits into four categories. Yeah, we did a double take, too.
Though BuzzFeed does mention that the doctor only spoke to a penis’s shape—girth and length were not taken into account—it still seems reductive simplifying all disco sticks to a mere four archetypes, especially with some three and a half billion men on earth inhabiting the planet. But before we delve into the article’s inaccuracies, let’s review Dr. Shusterman’s four types of penises.
THE BIG HEAD
As you might have guessed, The Big Head is a penis with a head that appears both “thicker and bigger than the body of the penis.” Think Helena Bonham Carter in Alice in Wonderland. Using his patients as a sample, Shusterman estimates roughly 20 percent of men possess this shape.
THE BIG SHAFT
The Big Shaft plays opposite The Big Head. Like a pencil, the head of the penis is smaller than the body, making the appendage appear to end in a point. Needle dick is an unfortunate—but not inaccurate—term associated with this shape.
This special kind of penis points upward, as if trying to determine whether that thing in the sky is a bird or a plane. “There’s a suspensory ligament that holds your penis to your pelvis and it suspends your penis a little upward,” Shusterman explained of the shape. Ten to 20 percent of men have The Curve; Shusterman cites the bend normally faces five to 10 degrees north.
Of all shapes, The Bender is the only one that concerns Shusterman. The shape is most recognized for its “extreme curvature,” which angles 30 to 60 degrees. Of the four shapes, this one’s most uncommon. It’s usually a sign of Peyronie’s disease, or a buildup of plaque in the penile shaft that causes it to stiffen and bend.
Shusterman chose not to include a penis’s size and girth when identifying his shapes because these factors are purely “genetic and developmental,” he says. He explains that every man’s penis size is dependent on a fetus’s exposure to testosterone. The penis only has one other opportunity to gain size and girth, and that’s during puberty, when the body receives a second jolt of testosterone.
So, do you buy it? Are there only four penis shapes? Let’s call it like it is: BuzzFeed’s article isn’t intended to be scientifically accurate. Instead, it seems like an obvious rushed attempt to garner the same virality Elite Daily recently achieved with an article on the five different types of vaginas,, which were determined by a far less reputable expert (a former bikini waxer), at least in terms of medical and/or scientific prowess.
Shusterman must have forgotten that some penises are uncircumcised. And some are more vascular than others. I’ve even seen a penis curve downward in porn. These omissions are important in a piece that generalizes male anatomy. How many men will read this article and feel insecure or abnormal because they don’t match up? Yes, sex ed should be fun, but it shouldn’t be generalized.
“As someone who has authored a textbook on human sexuality, I’ve studied up on sexual anatomy quite a bit and I’ve never read any kind of study suggesting that there are only four kinds of penises,” Playboy’s resident sex scientist Justin Lehmiller says. “From a scientific standpoint, there just isn’t anything to this idea.”
Truth is, penises are diverse in shape, size and appearance. As for the omitted features, Lehmiller echoes our sentiments regarding foreskin and veins, adding “all of these appearance factors combine in various ways to produce a lot of variation in what penises look like.”
Though the identification of these four shapes isn’t necessarily incorrect, the way they’re presented is irresponsibly inaccurate and vague. Dare I call it #FakeNews? “I would view this list of four shapes as just a starting point rather than a definitive guide,” says Lehmiller. So if your penis doesn’t resemble one of the four detailed above, don’t fret. Your penis is probably* just fine.
*I’m not a doctor and I’ve never seen your penis.