Possibilities for the penis: What else is there besides ''in and out''?

Dear Alice,

I keep reading that it's not the size of the penis that counts, but what he does with it. Other than the "in and out," what is there? This is not meant to be a cheesy question. Thanks!

Dear Reader,

What you keep reading is similar to a common proverb: "It's not the size of the ship, but the motion of the ocean," which is to say: the size of the penis doesn’t necessarily matter; rather, it’s how it’s used! Inherent in this proverb though, is another common topic of discussion: “does penis size matter?” This widely debated topic may cause some to worry and wonder. But, it’s good to keep in mind, just as penises come in many different sizes, there’s a variety of activities that are considered sexual as well. When taking a much broader view of sex, looking beyond “in and out” can involve more than penetration as far as sexy situations are concerned. Coming at this conundrum with curiosity and communication may be the key in determining the alternative options you seek.

No matter the concern for some about being too small or too big, generally speaking, penis size isn't the key to pleasing a partner sexually. What someone considers pleasurable is often specific to their own desires and may not have anything to do with a size preference at all. The only way to know about what makes a particular partner tick is to ask. If you’d like to bring a few ideas to the table during that conversation, options other than “in and out” may include stimulating a partner’s clitoris or prostate during penetrative sex. 

As you learn about your partner’s preferences and share your own, consider also exploring, and possibly expanding, your definition of sex. Keep in mind — sexual activity doesn’t have to include penetration; you might also consider outercourse or breast sex as other tantalizing options. Beyond those ideas, feel free to be creative! Sex, sexual roles, desires, and preferences vary by person and can change over time, so keeping your mind and the lines of communication open can help keep the flames of passion going.

One last note: once you and your partner get your creative juices flowing and explore options for pleasurable play, also consider how you both can reduce your risk for sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy. Negotiating safer sex practices while you continue your sexploration will help to ensure mutually enjoyable experiences — in and out of the bedroom.

Here’s to expanding your sexual repertoire!

Last updated Jun 24, 2016
Originally published Dec 13, 2002

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