All penises have a different appearance, size and shape.

Variation in length and circumference is noticeable primarily when the penis is flaccid. Small penises often grow more when they are erect while large penises grow less. Most penises are curved, in one direction or another. No matter which way a penis is curved, it does not generally affect the ability to have sex. If someone has a penis that is very crooked and it is difficult or painful to have sex, they can seek help.


The glans is the end of the penis and it is covered by a foreskin at birth. Some penises are circumcised, which means that part or all of the foreskin has been removed.Circumcision can be done for medical, religious or cultural reasons. For example, circumcision can be done if you have problems with a tight foreskin. A tight foreskin means that it is hard or impossible to pull the foreskin back, which can make it difficult to keep the penis clean. Sometimes the foreskin can get stuck behind the glans when you try to pull it back. A tight foreskin may cause pain during sex or masturbation.

The frenulum

There is an elastic band of tissue, called the frenulum, beneath the glans. The function of the frenulum is to transfer vibrations between the penile shaft and the glans, which is one way of reaching ejaculation. The frenulum is not as elastic as the rest of the skin on the penis and there are a lot of nerves and small blood vessels around it. Sometimes the frenulum can be too short and be painful, or it may break and start to bleed when you masturbate or have sex. It is not dangerous if the frenulum breaks and it will usually heal by itself. If the frenulum is too short, the glans may be slightly curved downwards when the penis is erect. If the frenulum is very short, it can be lengthened by means of a simple and quick operation.

Papules and spots

There are hair follicles and sebaceous glands on the penis and scrotum that can look like papules or spots. These are also present all over the body, but they are often more visible on the penis and scrotum since there is no subcutaneous fat there. Sebaceous glands produce sebum which is a kind of fat that lubricates the skin, keeping it soft and elastic. Sebum can be white or a yellowish colour and is sometimes called smegma. There may be small tags of skin around the edge of the glans that are called penile papules. These are totally harmless.