The enduring question about average penis length is difficult to settle. Now, the most comprehensive scientific study of the topic has some hard numerical answers.

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The study is claimed to be the first to combine all existing data on penis length and girth—a total of 15,521 data points—into a definitive analysis. Its results show that the average penis is 5.16 inches in length and 4.6 inches around when erect, and 3.6 inches long and 3.7 inches around when flaccid.

The new paper—published in BJU International and called 'Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men'—is a systematic review of existing studies. So, it rolls together measurements taken from 20 previously published studies. Participants ranged in age between 17 to 91, and hailed from Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.

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The study claims that 2.28 per cent of the male population have an abnormally small penis and 2.28 per cent have an unusually large one. Here, 'abnormal' was classified as 2 standard deviations above or below the mean. The results found no evidence to suggest that penis size varies with race. That said, the majority of those measured were European and Middle Eastern, so that conclusion is far from definitive. There was also no convincing relationship between foot size and penis length, though, so there's at least one myth settled.

It's plausible that the results could be slightly skewed. The researchers point out that volunteers who are more confident about their dimensions will have (naturally) volunteered to be measured up. But, for now, this is still the best we have. How do the figures sound to you? [BJU International via Guardian]

Image by Håvar og Solveig under Creative Commons license