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Characterization of Genital Dissatisfaction in a National Sample of U.S. Men


Male genital satisfaction is an important aspect of psychosocial and sexual health. The Index of Male Genital Image (IMGI) is a new scale that measures perceptions of male genitalia. We aim to characterize genital satisfaction using the IMGI and correlate dissatisfaction with sexual activity. We conducted a nationally representative survey of non-institutionalized adults aged 18–65 years residing in the U.S. In total, 4198 men completed the survey and 3996 (95.2 %) completed the IMGI. Men reported highest satisfaction with the shape of their glans (64 %), lowest satisfaction with the length of their flaccid penis size (27 %), and neutrality with the scent of their genitals (44 %). No demographic characteristics (age, race, sexual orientation, education, location, and income) were significantly associated with genital dissatisfaction. Men who were dissatisfied with their genitals were less likely to report being sexually active (73.5 %) than those who were satisfied (86.3 %). Penetrative vaginal sex (85.2 vs. 89.5 %) and receptive oral intercourse (61.0 vs. 66.2 %) were reported less by dissatisfied men. Overall, most U.S. men were satisfied with their genitals; however, a subset (14 %) report low genital satisfaction, which included men of all ages, races, and socioeconomic groups. Low genital satisfaction is associated with a decrease in sexual activity. These results provide clinicians and health educators a baseline of genital satisfaction to provide education and reassurance.

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Correspondence to Thomas W. Gaither.

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No competing financial interests exist.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at the University of California, San Francisco.



Q33a. How satisfied are you on a scale from 1 to 7 with your…

Extremely dissatisfied

Very dissatisfied

Somewhat dissatisfied

No feeling one way or the other

Somewhat satisfied

Very satisfied

Extremely satisfied








  1. a—Length of erect penis, b—Girth of erect penis, c—Size of flaccid penis, d—Color of genitals, e—Shape of glans (head), f—Location of urethra, g—Texture of skin, h—Curvature of penis, i—Circumcision status, j—Size of testicles, k—Genital veins, l—Amount of pubic hair, m—Amount of semen, n—Scent of genitals
  2. Note: The entire survey sent to participants is available from the corresponding author upon request

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Gaither, T.W., Allen, I.E., Osterberg, E.C. et al. Characterization of Genital Dissatisfaction in a National Sample of U.S. Men. Arch Sex Behav 46, 2123–2130 (2017).

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  • Genital satisfaction
  • Sexual activity
  • Oral sex
  • Penis size
  • Index of Male Genital Image