This is a women's lifestyle site. This means that, automatically, we are Team Vagina. But since all of us got here with the help of a penis and many of us enjoy the company and pleasure of them as adults, I thought it would only be fair (and necessary) that since I wrote "15 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Your Own Vagina" that I circle back around and share some interesting facts about men's genitalia too.
Something tells me that if you take five or so minutes to, at least skim this, there will be a couple of times when your eyes get big. Shoot, I write about sex for a living and about four of these points tripped me right on out. Are you ready for a little bit of semi-NSFW reading that will make you well-versed in the lane of male genitalia?
1. Baby Boys Have Erections Within the Womb
I've got an ex who used to get erections whenever he ate something that he really liked. It was the first time when I saw actual proof that men can get hard for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with sex. Another solid example? Baby boys are able to get erections while they are developing in their mother's womb (check out "It Starts in the Womb: Helping Parents Understand Infant Sexuality"). Oh, and speaking of development, a man's penis officially stops growing once he hits his early 20s.
2. There Are “Growers” and Then There Are “Showers”
Here's a great PSA for why you should never assume that grey sweatpants are telling you all that you need to know about a guy's genitalia. The reality is that some men are "growers" while others are "showers". What's the difference?
A shower is someone whose penis is basically the same size whether he is flaccid or erect while a grower is someone whose penis grows significantly in size whenever he experiences an erection. Factors like tissue elasticity, collagen and a man's overall health can determine what category he falls into.
Also, interestingly enough, it's not uncommon for some fellas to start off in one category and then move over into another as he ages. One more thing. Whatever is visible to the naked eye is only half of what a man has goin' on. The other part of his penis is housed inside of his body.
3. Smoking Can Shorten a Man’s Penis
If you're currently with a smoker, here's another motivation for him to quit. Something that smoking does is restrict blood flow to his penis. When that happens, it can prevent him from getting—or maintaining—a maximum erection; this, in turn, can result in a smaller penis. How small? Only about a centimeter. But still, since smoking is unhealthy anyway, why not convince him to get that centimeter back by stopping?
4. Erectile Dysfunction Is Not Nearly As Common As Erectile Dissatisfaction
When a man struggles with getting or maintaining an erection, the proper term for it is erectile dysfunction. While it affects approximately 30 million American men, something that I found to be fascinating is the fact that a far greater culprit is erectile dissatisfaction. No, it's not when a man is no longer interested in his partner. Erectile dissatisfaction is what happens when, as a man ages, he starts to compare his younger sexual self to his current way of being. This tends to happen to many men when they are between the ages of 40-50. Oftentimes, it's because it takes them a longer time to become erect in between sexual escapades. The remedies? Less stress and more patience from their partner are a great place to start.
5. Going by a Man’s Shoe Size Is a Total Myth
Unfortunately, I still hear people reference this myth enough to where it has to be mentioned. The size of a man's shoe has NOTHING to do with the size of his member. Matter of fact, one of my past partners had a huge foot and one of the smallest penises that I had ever been with. On the flip side, according to theInternational Journal of Impotence Research, a man's age, height and index finger length does have something to do with how much is going on down below. But still, you really won't know until…you know.
6. Semen Is a Low-Calorie “Snack”
I say it often because it's true. Sperm (the cells that actually fertilize eggs) and semen (the fluid that carries the cells) are like the ultimate multi-vitamin (check out "Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm" to learn why). If you are a partaker and any part of you is curious as to how many calories you're taking in whenever you throw a shot back, you're getting somewhere between 5-25 calories. At least that's what the word on Google street says.
7. The Average Man Has Many Erections a Day
How many erections do most men have on a daily basis? The average clocks somewhere around 11 with 3-5 of them happening at night. How long do nighttime erections last? Usually somewhere between 25-35 minutes.
So, if your man happens to be all about tapping your shoulder in the middle of the night or being totally down for morning sex, this is probably why.
8. Ejaculate Moves Pretty Fast
Ever wonder how fast ejaculate comes out? It's not slow, by any means. While it does kind of vary per guy, the average is somewhere around 28 miles per hour. When you think about how that's double the amount of a lot of school zones, it reminds us why Samantha (from Sex & the City) once said, "They don't call [a blow job] a job for nothin'."
9. Some Men Can Climax Without Erections
Never assume that just because a man doesn't ejaculate during sex that he didn't have a really good time. When a guy climaxes without releasing any semen, it's called a dry orgasm. Matter of fact, it's not uncommon for guys to "reach the peak" without ever having an orgasm at all.
10. Broken Penises Are A Real Thing
A man who says his penis is "broke" is someone who is basically expressing that the blood vessels that are inside of his penis ended up bursting which resulted in some pretty painful swelling. And what causes a broken penis (or penile fracture) to happen most often? Rigorous masturbation, his partner being on top (and moving too vigorously at an awkward angle) or him bumping into something—pardon the pun—hard (like a door) while his penis is erect. If it does happen, ice packs and ibuprofen can help with the healing process.
11. Some Men Can Give Themselves Fellatio
This might just be the most random (and fascinating) penis point on this entire list. While some call it "auto-fellatio" and others refer to it as being "self-fellatio", there are men who are actually limber enough to give themselves head. I read somewhere that approximately 1 in 400 men are able to do it. Does the same go for women and cunnilingus? Maybe if you're a contortionist, but since we don't have anything that "sticks out" when we're aroused, it's a lot more difficult. (I don't know if you consider that to be good or bad news. Report back.)
12. Blue Balls Are Also Real (and Have a Scientific Name)
Whenever you hear a man talk about having blue balls, it's best not to roll your eyes. Yes, it's a very real thing and the scientific name for it is prostatic congestion (or epididymal hypertension, depending on who you ask). It's basically what happens when blood gets trapped inside of his testicles, resulting in some pretty extreme achiness and discomfort. Now here's what guys may not tell you.
Blue balls don't only transpire when a man is horny and unable to get a release. It can also come as the result of having too much sex, masturbating too often, having a cold, drinking excessively or even eating too much spicy food. That's why an orgasm isn't the only remedy for prostatic congestion. Taking a warm shower or an aspirin can oftentimes bring relatively quick relief too.
13. Very Few Men Actually Need Magnum Condoms. XL, That Is.
I don't know about you but, back in my sexually active days, it always used to tickle me that almost every man I was with had a pack of Magnums, even though every man I was with wasn't in need of one—if you know what I mean.
From what I've read, only six percent of men should actually purchase that brand, if it's the "XL variety" that they are after (which is exactly what they typically choose to buy). The reason why is because Magnums measure at a little over eight inches long and a little over two inches wide. While the average size of most penises (erect) is 5.16 inches.
That's why it really is best, for all parties involved, for men to ditch the ego boost of a Magnum and utilize an actual condom chart before actually purchasing this kind of prophylactic. Condoms are most effective (and feel best) when they actually…fit correctly.
14. Stress DEFINITELY Affects a Man’s Erections and Orgasms
When a man has a difficult time maintaining an erection or having an orgasm, more times than not, stress is the root cause. In some instances, this is referred to as "orgasmic dysfunction" which can be brought on by age and medications but also shyness, low self-esteem, relationship problems, sexual guilt (that's sometimes brought on by religious beliefs and upbringing) or even—get this—nagging. The reason why this is a good thing to keep in mind is because, a lot of times, we think that only women need to be "mentally in tune" in order to enjoy coitus. But, as you can see, if men aren't in a place of peace and calm, it can wreak havoc on their sex lives too.
15. Black Men Do Lead the “Pack”. But Only Slightly.
I believe it's a man by the name of Roberto Esquivel Cabrera who currently holds the record for having the largest penis in the world. How large is it? You ain't ready—it's a whopping 18.9"! He's not a Black man which makes him the perfect lead in for my final penis fact. While it has been stereotyped since, forever, that Black men have the biggest penises out of all ethnicities, that is only "a little bit true". What I mean is, according to another study conducted by the International Journal of Impotence Research, "We have shown that the man's mean penis length who identifies himself as black is just a little bit bigger than the one who identifies himself as white. However, there were no significant differences between groups regarding self-assessment of genital body image." This is a nice way of saying that you shouldn't assume our Black kings are always "large and in charge" or that Karen's brothers are teeny-tiny. It's kind of a crap shoot, so require more than penis size when selecting a partner; even when it comes to sex.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
I Asked 10 Men What Turned Them On. This Is What They Said.
What?! Only 35 Percent Of Men Go Down? Say It Ain't So.
10 Things You Didn't Know About The Male And Female Orgasm
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Text This Before You Ghost Them, Sis.
We’ve all been there at least once (or a few times) along our dating journey. Maybe you’ve had a date or two with a potential suitor, but the spark just wasn’t there. Perhaps you convinced yourself that just “one more” date would help you overlook a non-negotiable ick. At this point in the dating cycle, you’ve probably reached the point where you must decide to either communicate “why” things won’t be moving forward or simply ghost them.
What Is Ghosting?
“Ghosting” refers to the act of suddenly and unexpectedly cutting off all communication with someone you've been dating or talking to without any explanation or further contact. It typically occurs in the early stages of dating but can also happen after a few dates or even in more established relationships.
The act of ghosting has become quite a common practice in our modern dating culture and can manifest in a number of different ways. From days of ignored text messages and phone calls out of the blue to not showing up for pre-arranged plans and sometimes disappearing from someone's life without any notice or explanation.
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The Problem With Ghosting
Being ghosted may seem like a harmless act of “self-choosing,” but the person on the receiving end of your decision can be left feeling confused, rejected, and even abandoned, wondering what happened and where they went wrong.
And we get it, what explanation do you owe someone for leaving after a few cocktails and a $100 date? While that may seem like the perfect opportunity to cut and run, taking an alternative approach to fizzle out a fling is a great time to practice clear and effective communication that can pay off in the long run.
While there is a time and a place for ghosting (and even blocking) if your boundaries have been crossed or safety has been threatened, if we’re looking to live out our best healed, secure-girl summer, there are ways to date freely without leaving others with damage of their own to recover from.
Being honest and upfront about your feelings while being respectful of the other person's time is the best way to leave a situationship or fling with both parties emotionally unscathed. So if you’re looking for ways to break things off with care and consideration, we’ve provided five text scripts to send instead of ghosting somebody’s son:
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5 Texts To Send Instead of Ghosting Them
1. If you want to take the honest but gentle approach:
"Hey [Name], I've really enjoyed getting to know you, but I've been doing some thinking, and I don't see this going any further. I wanted to be upfront and honest with you rather than leaving you wondering. I wish you all the best."
2. If you want to express gratitude before saying goodbye:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the time we spent together. You're an amazing person, but I think we're better off as friends. I hope you understand and that we can still maintain a positive connection."
3. If you want to leave a note of appreciation:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to let you know that I've had a great time with you, but I don't think we're compatible for a romantic relationship. I appreciate the moments we shared, and I hope we can both find what we're looking for."
4. If a face-to-face convo is needed:
"Hey [Name], I've been doing some thinking, and I believe it's important for us to have an open conversation about where we stand. Can we find some time to talk about our relationship and how we both feel? I think it's important to address things honestly."
5. If you want to keep things cute and concise:
"Hey [Name], I've realized that we're not on the same page, and it's best if we part ways. Take care."
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