For something that’s been a part of many human beings since … well, since before we’ve actually been human beings, penises have racked up a disappointing number of falsehoods about what they are, what they can do, and particularly why sometimes they can’t.

Whether you have one, your partner has one, or you've both got 'em, you need to know these penis facts.

Penis Education Is Lacking

But first, a bit of background on the "why"' behind this article is right up there with the importance of dispelling these myths.

Though I don’t consider myself extremely sexually experienced, I’ve had my fair share of encounters—probably more than some, less than others—but in the 40-plus years of them I’ve way too often smacked headfirst, or penis-first, with what I could best call fundamental ignorance about this one body part.

Read: Why Even Adults Need Sex Education

This gets me around to saying that though you may think you’re educated, keep reading as you may still be unintentionally clinging to some of these antiquated beliefs about the penis.

On Arousal and Erections

The biggest-of-the-biggest of these is thinking that achieving and maintaining an erection is always tied to arousal: that if you can’t get one, or hold onto one if you do get it, is because the penis-owner is or isn’t turned on.

While this can be somewhat true for some, the reality is even for those people the connection varies widely. Age can certainly be a factor, with hormone levels decreasing over time, but even young people can be incredibly aroused and for various reasons beyond their conscious control, their body simply won’t respond.

Read: Chemical Romance: How Hormones Influence Love, Sex and Relationships

I’m going to repeat this for the folks in the cheap seats: erections don’t always have to do with arousal! So, please, don’t chastise your penis-partner or feel bad about yourself because you think you aren’t sexy enough, or what you’re doing with your own body, is to blame.

All kinds of factors, from diet to medical conditions, fatigue, medications, or emotional challenges can negatively affect getting and keeping an erection. Similarly, erections can be unintentionally caused by these or other things, causing ill-informed partners to assume that something their penis-partner saw or did was a secret sexual fetish when in reality it was their body acting all on its own.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but as we are talking penis-myths that won’t go away, we still have to: premature ejaculation (PE) is also not something to be ashamed of as it, equally, it is not about what someone did or didn’t do. Premature ejaculation can be caused by a similarly vast array of things like medications, anxiety, diet, and more.

Read: Premature Ejaculation: It's a Thing You Don't Have to Feel Bad About

Before moving on, this may not be what a lot of people may want to hear but achieving and maintaining an erection takes a lot of work, so much so that I’ve heard more than a few of my penis-compadres express the feeling that sex is something to be successfully accomplished, often against all odds, rather than something that’s actually enjoyed.

Work here meaning physically, (like with self-manipulation since masturbation is familiar when it comes to arousal) but mostly mental: as using a favorite fantasy, even during physical sex, can help maintain focus or keep the excitement coming.

Because of this, emotional concerns—like the fear of disappointing a partner—can dramatically interfere with getting and keeping it up. Reassurance, understanding, or even positive feedback can be a huge help, with criticism, disappointment, or humiliation …well, no one likes that, right?

Size Does Matter

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Before you jump down my throat, let me clarify: one of the penis-myths that still floats around is that bigger is better, so much so that far too many penis-havers become ashamed of their bodies: convinced that they will never be a good partner just because of the size of the appendage: something that was always just a quirk of genetics.

Worse yet is that those without a penis can frequently reinforce these negative feelings by measuring a person’s sexual value based on their size. So let’s set the record straight: when I said that size does matter I wasn’t referring to bigger being best.

Read: The Big Penis Hoax: Why Size Doesn't Matter as Much as You Think

Here’s an anecdote to hopefully explain: as part of another article, I interviewed a bunch of people about giving oral sex, with a large percentage saying that they preferred more "mouth-sized" ones than huge-with-an-extra-helping-of-massive.

I also spoke with a person with a larger-than-average penis who was often depressed by their own sexual experiences, as they had been negatively affected by their biology. Mostly this manifested as partners initially getting aroused by looking at those dimensions but when it came to doing anything, their anatomy was too long and thick for comfort. On top of that, they fantasized about anal penetration and receiving oral sex but as both were so uncomfortable for their partners their dreams have had to remain just that.

So when I wrote that “size does matter” I was meant that a joyous and satisfying sexual experience has never been about how someone’s genetic dice rolled in the size department but in appreciating who you are—not who you think you should be.

Beyond That Little Blue Pill

Finally, we come to the Sildenafil (the generic name for Viagra) in the room. Being succinct about it, while this medication can help maintain and achieve an erection, a once-in-awhile erectile dysfunction issue—or far worse thinking that having it on-hand will guarantee them being a ‘successful’ lover—is far from a good reason to get a prescription.

The reality is that medications like Sildenafil can have serious side effects, especially if abused. Not only that, but the harsh truth is also that even with the medication a person may still not be able to become erect.

So please don’t think popping this once-was-blue-pill will solve all your—real or imaginary—sexual problems, at least not until you also consider other approaches, including diet, exercise, other medications, and therapy.

Read: Can't Get Hard? 8 Tips for a Steamy, Sexy, Good Time Anyway

Sex and the Penis

More than that, though, let’s end by dispelling the biggest myth of all: that for people with them, sex should always be about the penis.

Enjoy them? Certainly! Consensually involve them in partner play? Absolutely! All of us, though, are far than just our bodies. So if you happen to be equipped with a penis, don’t limit yourself by solely thinking with it when it comes to sex.

This goes to all the partners out there as well: while your playmate might be packing this particular appendage, please avoid assuming that’s where your, and their, sexual enjoyment begins and ends.

Read: Top 6 Underrated Erogenous Zones to Discover

Sex, after all, is about pleasure, for yourself or with consensual partners but better yet it’s limitless in how we can experience and share that enjoyment: with or without a penis … it’s all good.

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