Spoiler alert: Both types are great.
The world of penis aesthetics is a wild one. Length, girth, presence of foreskin — it’s a lot for people with penises to keep track of. And on top of it all, there’s the bizarre grower vs. shower showdown that has the internet wondering: ... Huh?
According to San Diego–based sex, intimacy, and relationship coach Tari Mannello, if you identify as a grower (not a shower), your penis — yup, you guessed it — grows significantly in size when erect. A shower, on the other hand, “means that even when the penis hangs flaccid, it looks large by default,” regardless of arousal.
“I really think the question of the shower versus grower is a non-question,” Mannello tells Elite Daily. “There’s not really anything you can do about it, and everyone’s size is different. One is not necessarily ‘better’ than the other.”
Expectations and pressures for our bodies to look a certain way or to have a certain shape can be detrimental to a person’s mental health, and, in the case of penis anxiety, can contribute to stress-related erectile dysfunction.
As Kristen Lilla previously told Elite Daily, “I encourage people to stop focusing so much on erect penises. People can engage in intimacy without an erect penis and still feel connected and even aroused.”
But for those times when a penis does take center stage, read on for the truth about size and to finally answer the question: Does it matter?
Even though “all penises get bigger when they’re erect,” according to Healthline, limited research shows that there is indeed a difference between showers and growers, however slight. International Journal of Impotence Research published a study in 2018 that looked at 274 participants who were receiving treatment for ED. Using a penile ultrasound (BRB, adding that to my Christmas list), the researchers took measurements of the penises while flaccid and then again upon receiving an injection of a “vasodilation substance” to widen the blood cells and promote an erection. The researchers found that the participants all grew an average of 1.5 inches when erect, a figure that they used as a baseline to determine whether someone was a shower or a grower.
If the penis grew more than 1.5 inches, they were classified as a grower. Less than 1.5 and they were labeled a shower. A resounding 74% of participants landed in the shower camp.
Some factors that contribute to a person’s showing or growing include tissue elasticity, collagen levels, and blood flow. And while there’s no clear link to age, it’s speculated that your show vs. grow status can change as your tissues stretch or shrink over time.
Does Size Affect Sexual Satisfaction?
So yeah, technically, the shower vs. grower phenomenon is real. But does it make any kind of practical difference whether you identify as a shower or grower, especially when it comes to sex? Furthermore, does size actually affect sexual satisfaction? Mannello, Healthline, and the researchers agree: Not technically, but it’s subjective.
According to Healthline, “What your penis looks like when it’s flaccid has no bearing on how it looks, feels, and works when it’s erect.” And penis size more generally has no bearing on function or pleasure — giving or receiving.
But Mannello adds a caveat. “A lot of [people] do have a preference,” he says. “Some prefer thickness and girth, some prefer length. Much the way [some] men respond to larger breasts or a large butt, [some] women respond well to a nice-sized penis. But at the end of the day, there is someone that you will work for just fine and it won’t be a problem.”
There are some people who achieve greater arousal from a partner with a larger penis, because they’re excited by the way it looks or feels or both. But it’s just a question of preference. The greatest factor in determining sexual satisfaction is not size; it’s confidence and receptivity to a partner’s needs.
Does Size Affect Stamina?
Healthline gives this one a big, fat nope. Penises of any size are liable to tap out early. Factors that do have an effect on a person’s ability to last in bed are thought to include foreplay, lubrication, regular exercise, and diet (electrolytes like potassium go a long way in helping someone go a long way).
Does Size Affect Fertility?
This one is also a no. Sperm is produced in the testicles, not the penis, so size is an irrelevant factor in a person’s ability to conceive.
Penises, like all the best body parts, come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of stretchiness. Focusing too much on size and appearance will almost certainly kill the vibe, whether you’re massive, compact, or somewhere in between. The message is clear: The only thing you need to worry about showing or growing is that big, ol’ heart of yours, you li’l’ cutie pie.
Alzweri, Laith; Hellstrom, Wayne J. G.; Libby, Russell P.; McCaslin, Ian R.; Sangkum, Premsant; Sikka, Suresh C.; Yafi, Faysal A. (2018) Grower or shower? Predictors of change in penile length from the flaccid to erect state. International Journal of Impotence Research.
Tari Mannello, sex, intimacy, and relationship coach and founder of Closeness San Diego
Kristen Lilla, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator
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