My penis and testicles

The penis is made up of the shaft and the glans (head). When you are born the glans is covered by foreskin. The foreskin is connected by a thin piece of skin called the frenulum to the base of the glans. 

The penis is needed for: 

  • Urination (doing a wee)
  • Ejaculation (carrying sperm out of the body)

The testicles (balls) are covered by a sac of skin called the scrotum.

The testicles: 

  • Make and store sperm
  • Make testosterone (male hormone)

Am I normal?

All penises and testicles are different. 

Your penis can have lumps and bumps. Usually these are harmless, for example fordyce spots and pearly penile papules. Painful or new lumps or bumps should be checked by a doctor or nurse.


During puberty, your penis and testicles grow. They don’t stop growing completely until around age 21. Your testicles may be the same size, one might be bigger than the other, and they may hang at different heights. You may see penises that are bigger or smaller than yours.

Just like foot size, there is a wide range of normal penis sizes. People often exaggerate or over estimate the average penis size. It's very likely that your penis is a normal size. There's a lot less difference in penis size between boys when they get an erection than when their penises are relaxed. When relaxed, the length of your penis varies depending on things like temperature. 

The size of your penis is not connected to how much pleasure you can bring to yourself or a partner. What is important is that you check with your partner about what they like to do during sex. Everyone enjoys different things and that helps makes sex fun! 

Condom size does matter. If you use a condom that is too big then it might fall off. If it is too small, it might break.

Despite what you may read online or see on social media, special exercises, supplements or diets won't change your penis size.


Penises can be lots of different shapes. Some will be the same width from base to tip. Others may be wider at some points and narrower at others.

When erect, penises can curve up, down, left or right. Having a curved penis is common. 


Penises can be lots of different colours. The colour of your penis may change when it is erect, due to increased blood flow. 


Foreskin varies in length. The foreskin is tight and usually can’t be pulled back when you're young. By the time you go to secondary school and go through puberty you should be able to pull back your foreskin. Some teenagers have a tight foreskin and it often improves on its own. If it is painful or if it's getting red and irritated then speak to your GP. 

If the foreskin gets pulled back when it’s still tight or if it isn’t replaced after being pulled back, it might get stuck. If your foreskin gets stuck and can't be pulled back over the head of your penis then you need to see a doctor urgently. 

How to look after your penis and testicles

  • Gently wash your penis and testicles with warm water once a day
  • If you have a foreskin, pull it back gently and wash underneath
  • Always put the foreskin back into place to cover the head of the penis afterwards 
  • Use unperfumed soap or an unperfumed moisturiser such as hydromol, epaderm or cetraben to wash to avoid irritation 

If you don’t keep your penis clean, smegma (a creamy substance) will start to build up on the head of your penis and under your foreskin.

Smegma is a natural lubricant. It keeps your penis moist. If it starts to build up it can have an unpleasant smell and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can cause balanitis (redness and swelling of the head of the penis).

If you have any kind of discharge which smells bad, this could be a sign of infection or a STI (sexually transmitted infection). Visit your GP or sexual health clinic. 

Pubic Hair

Pubic hair is normal. It can be coarse or fine, straight or curly, dark or light. Pubic hair is there for a reason. It protects you from bacteria and reduces friction during sex. Hair removal can cause soreness and ingrowing hairs.

Some people like to remove some or all of their pubic hair. Lots of people also choose to leave their pubic hair exactly the way it is. Everyone is different and the way you choose to keep your pubic hair is up to you. 

How to examine your testicles for lumps

It’s a good idea to examine your testicles when you’re in the bath or shower. 

If you notice a lump, or something doesn’t feel quite right then it’s important to see a doctor or nurse. 

If you are worried about speaking to a health professional, visit our page on your right to privacy and confidentiality

For more information and how to check for lumps, visit Testicular Health

Further information


 Brook has lots of information on penises and testicles. Including information on what's normal, erections, foreskins, circumcision and keeping clean. 

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