The size of the “ideal” penis appears to have increased in recent history, according to a scientific analysis of artwork from the 15th to 21st centuries. The findings have been published in BJU International, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
“In recent years, we are encountering a dramatically increased interest in penile enlargement surgeries,” said study author Ege Can Serefoglu, a professor of urology at the Biruni University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Impotence Research.
“We realized that this increased demand is mainly due to the increased consumption of porn, especially during the pandemic period. Many young men compare their penis size with that of porn stars and consider their penises to be small, although their sizes are within the normal range.”
“They are having a great amount of anxiety regarding the inability to satisfy their partners, although it has been demonstrated that penis size does not have a significant impact on partner satisfaction,” Serefoglu told PsyPost.
“This phenomenon is called ‘penile dysmorphophobia,’ which is nowadays considered as a part of body dysmorphic disorder. Considering the magnitude of this disorder, we wanted to assess the ideal penis size by measuring the length of this organ in nude paintings. As expected, we have observed a dramatically increase in penis size in the recent centuries.”
To analyze how the depiction of male genitals in Western art has changed over time, the researchers systematically analyzed 160 paintings of nude adult men created by 99 artists from 21 countries worldwide, ranging from the Renaissance period to the present day.
To standardize measurements, only paintings in which the penis size could be determined and depicted proportionally to the face were included. The paintings were examined to ensure that the male figures’ faces were in line with the Golden Ratio, which is a standard for proportion in art, indicating that the images were realistic and proportionate. The researchers calculated the penile length to ear length (PtEL) or penile length to nose length (PtNL) ratios to determine the size of the penis in proportion to the face depicted.
The paintings were divided into seven groups according to the centuries they were painted, and further divided into three groups based on the historical development of art: Renaissance Period (1400-1599), Baroque-Rococo and Impressionism Period (1600-1899), and Contemporary Art Period (1900-2020).
During the 15th and 16th centuries, there was a significant increase in the number of paintings depicting the naked male body, but the penis was still depicted as relatively small during this time period.
The researchers found that the average penis size of 21st-century paintings was greater than all other centuries. Furthermore, the average penis size of paintings from the Contemporary Art Period were significantly higher than those of all earlier periods. The findings indicate that penises have been depicted as larger in recent paintings compared to the past.
The findings were mostly in line with the researchers expectations. “We were aware of the fact that ‘small penis’ was considered to be ideal in ancient Greece and in the Renaissance period. In the contemporary period, we knew that penis sizes enlarged along with the perception of the society related to the ‘ideal penis size,'” Serefoglu said.
The researchers said that contemporary art’s increasing tendency to portray larger and potentially unrealistic penises could potentially affect modern men’s self-esteem and satisfaction with their own penis size. Further research is required to determine why artists are depicting penises in this manner and the potential implications of this trend.
“Men should not consider porn stars as ‘normal’ and they should not be focusing on their penile size, which does not have an impact on partner satisfaction,” Serefoglu advised.
The study, “Depictions of penises in historical paintings reflect changing perceptions of the ideal penis size“, was authored by Murat Gül, Emre Altintas, Mehmet Serkan Özkent, Annette Fenner, and Ege Can Serefoglu.