After reading an article on MEL about “innie” penises, Carl, 59, from Illinois, reached out to share his own experience with me. Rather than a traditional innie penis, which is typically caused by issues with skin tissue or obesity, Carl instead refers to his own penis as “inconspicuous.” Under two inches when erect, Carl’s penis is clinically defined as a micropenis, and when flaccid, it is essentially not visible, embedded within his body. Despite this, Carl has maintained a happy and normal life as a twice-married father. Below, Carl shares his experiences and explains how the key to mutually enjoyable sex, regardless of size, is honesty and acceptance.
Webbed, buried, hidden, concealed, trapped penises — these are all things that are typically dealt with when boys are fairly young. There are surgical interventions. In my case, my situation is that I have a micropenis. It would be described by a medical professional as an “undetermined 46 XY disorder of sexual development.” The reason it’s undetermined in origin is that it’s usually hormonal, and it happens during fetal development. A boy’s penis develops by the 14th week, [but] there can be a lack of receptiveness to certain hormones, or it could be an ill-timed release of hormones.
The normal course today is for a boy to receive hormone treatments, to be referred to an endocrinologist or a pediatric urologist and undergo a conservative form of treatment, like a hormone supplement therapy. But that didn’t happen with me. My parents were of a different generation — I don’t know that my parents ever discussed my situation with my pediatrician. It was never talked about as a medical issue in the house. I never directly brought it up to my parents, from the time that I realized that I was different from other boys. I think in my father’s case, he would have considered it to be frivolous. It’s just the kind of guy he was. He wasn’t a mean guy, but he’d been through World War II and had guys standing next to him cut in half by shrapnel. So I think he would have considered the small penis to be a frivolous thing for a boy to worry about.
I knew that my genitals and my penis, in particular, were unusually small. It was obvious in situations where I would be undressing with other boys that I didn’t have something that protruded at all. My configuration down there just didn’t look like any of the other boys’. At that point in early childhood, age 6, I just assumed that, like the rest of me, it would grow. The rest of me did — I grew and developed into a normal looking young man. But that part never grew at all. I reached my teenage years and dating and relationships and marriage with basically what I had at age two or three.
As far as a medical diagnosis, when I was about 25 years old, I saw a urologist because of something unrelated to this. I didn’t even ask about it. The urologist told me that I had a micropenis, and that it should have been addressed through hormonal therapy before puberty, and at that point, it was too late.
The idea that size doesn’t matter at all is kind of foolish. I’m an experienced older adult. It does matter. It matters to guys, and it matters to a lot of women. Even if it’s not an important factor for women, at some point there is such a thing as too small. There is such a thing as too big, where it’s going to be a problem. I wanted to dispel this idea that size doesn’t matter and women don’t care about that. I mean, that’s kind of a terrible message because it’s unrealistic.
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The first few sexual experiences I had were, I would say, frustrating, disappointing, humiliating. My first serious girlfriend when I lost my virginity was also a virgin. I was 17. She had heard that it would hurt and that it might not go in very easily. I expected that we would have to take it slow and gentle and that it might not work very well the first time. Afterward, I could tell that she was disappointed that there was a lack of sensation. I had trouble staying in. Small penises in general slip out a lot, so I had to learn other things. I was determined not to have a small penis and be a premature ejaculator. Once I’ve ejaculated, for the penis to reduce in size and grow soft again is normal. That meant that mine would retract completely and virtually disappear. I knew that this would be a bad thing. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem and could stay erect for as long as I needed to, but I did learn that my erect penis wasn’t much use or help when it came to stimulation and pleasure for a woman.
To have a mutually enjoyable sexual experience, it took a willing, patient partner and my own determination. It took a long time to grow to understand that; for me, an authentic experience meant not trying to have the kind of sex that you see in porn. It took someone willing to forego a certain part of the experience that I just couldn’t deliver.
I’d had a number of humiliating experiences, sexually. I’d had women I’ve been intimate with say things to me about my size, sometimes extremely negative things during a fight or as part of a breakup or something. My first wife was increasingly critical of my sexual abilities and adequacy as our marriage went on. I found these experiences strangely arousing. It took me a long time before I could explore humiliation as one aspect of authentic sexual expression for me.
I value honesty. There were experiences in my life where a woman would say, “It’s fine,” “It’s nice” or “It’s a good size,” and she was just saying that to make me feel good. It didn’t make me feel good. Maybe humiliation is enjoyable because I’d hidden myself for so many years. I mean, when I was a 6-year-old realizing that my penis didn’t look like other boys’ and that I didn’t have anything that even looked like a penis, I started hiding myself. Maybe because of all that hiding, it just felt really good to have the situation acknowledged, and to be teased about it.
In the bedroom, between two people, I find that really enjoyable to have that as part of play, like, if we were going to be using something like a dildo or a vibrator — I’ve had good results with penis-extender sleeves — roleplaying that I’m someone else when I have the penis-extender sleeve on and when I when I’m not wearing it, I’m my wife’s tiny-dick little husband. That, I found very enjoyable.
Accepting myself has been a step-by-step process. So at age 6, I’m hiding myself. As an older teen, I’m trying to keep the lights off and hoping she won’t notice. In my 20s, there’s maybe some open discussion once a woman would comment on it. After my first marriage ended and I started dating again, I knew I probably had to disclose it. That’s not a straightforward proposition, either, and as I said, it’s small. I don’t think a woman’s thought would immediately go to a one-and-three-quarter inch penis. It’s so far outside the normal range that she’s not thinking of a guy who’s barely able to penetrate and even then only in a few positions. So, you know, it’s a touchy thing to broach but I learned that I had to make some disclosure.
As far as full acceptance and having fun with it, it wasn’t until my 40s. I knew I was there when I had gone beyond just, you know, happy bedroom play and acceptance with a trusted partner to being able to do nudist activities, to go to a clothing optional beach and get naked and enjoy the day around other nude people.
There’s a Mark Twain quote I like: “I’m an old man. And I’ve known a great many troubles, and most of them never happened.” We make our own, we imagine all these terrible things that are going to happen. Usually, all those terrible things don’t happen. Understanding that took me a long time.