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Are Men Getting Smaller Where It Counts?

Men of the world, rejoice! The average length of an erect penis is shorter than you probably think.

A study by Lifestyles Condom Co. shows that the average length of a male sex organ is 5.877 inches — which might comfort men who previously thought they were less than average.

"The Kinsey Sex Report and other penis size surveys have indicated that the length of the penis is 6.2 to 6.4 inches," says Simon Joseph, a spokesman for Lifestyles. "Our results show that about three-quarters of men fall under the average quoted by Kinsey."

"A half-inch or less might not have anything to do with how you perform sexually, but it might make a difference in how you feel about yourself."

According to the survey, about two-thirds of the 300 college-aged men ranged from between 5.1 and 6.2 inches.

For those of you who don't like to deal in raw numbers, at 5.877 inches, the average penis is about the size of a Nestle Butterfinger candy bar (unwrapped) or a grande (medium) cup of coffee at Starbucks (with the sip lid). Most men vary in size between a Twix bar and a Peter Paul Mounds (with the wrapper extended).

When Alfred Kinsey did his groundbreaking research in the mid-1940s, researchers simply gave men stamped postcards. Each one simply held a postcard against his erect penis, marked how long it was, and slipped the results in the mail.

"They never had to hold a ruler against themselves," says Kinsey spokesman Jennifer Bass.

Measuring an erect penis is no easy matter. Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and various urology groups have been satisfied with either letting the men do it themselves or with surveys of a few dozen volunteers.

But condom companies need more accurate measurements for the best-fitting products — even if sex experts assure us that size doesn't matter. Lifestyles says it did the largest and most accurate measure of penis size ever just three weeks ago. Company representatives went to Cancun, Mexico, at the heart of spring break, hoping to get 1,000 guys to drop their trousers, get aroused, and let a team of nurses measure them individually.

The guys got to go into a private tent outside Daddy Rock nightclub, where they found girlie magazines and other items to put them in the mood. Then came the doctor and two nurses. Each penis was measured by two of the four nurses.

"It was a highly professional operation," said Dr. Francisco Ordonez, who supervised the research. "The nurses wore disposable latex gloves and the men were all good-humored and well-behaved."

It's amazing what some college guys on spring break will do for some free T-shirts, condoms and other prizes. The researchers thought holding the testing in such an environment, where guys tended to cluster in bunches, would help get true variety.

"In other tests, guys responded individually, and perhaps only guys who were proud of their penis size would respond," says Joseph. "In this test, we thought peer pressure would help coax guys who wouldn't ordinarily do such a thing into doing it."

Still, when it came time for measuring, about 25 percent of the guys weren't up to the job and had to face a little humiliation in the name of science.

Ordonez and his team had to be satisfied with 300 respondents. That's far fewer than they hoped for. But it's nearly twice as many as a similar study in Brazil last year, which had similar results.

The Importance of Girth

"It's absolutely important that we have the best information to make the best-fitting condom," said Carol Carrozza, Lifestyle's vice president of marketing. "If a condom is too tight, it constricts circulation. It's uncomfortable, and it reduces sensitivity. If it's too loose, that's dangerous."

Carrozza says the circumference of the penis — otherwise referred to as girth — is often more important than length when new condom sizes are considered. "Because of the way condoms unroll, it's really not the case that they are not long enough."

According to the study, the average erect penis had a girth of 4.972 inches. About 75 percent of men were between 4.5 and 5.5 inches.

"We already have a larger condom," says Carrozza. "What our research shows is that 17 percent of erections measured under 4.5 inches, and there might be a market for that."

Of course, once again, the frail male ego comes into play, and while condoms come in large, studded, ribbed and flavored varieties, you don't see small or petite or narrow models. We'll just have to see what kind of circumlocution the marketing folks come up with.

The Weird News Roundup

Wrong Number

For six years, pregnant women in Pennsylvania were offered a "mind-blowing sexual experience" when they called a state guide listing for advice about abortion and adoption. It seems the guide had transposed two digits in the telephone number and was funnelling folks to a sex line. Why did it go on so many years? "We didn't know about it," said a state health official, who wished to remain anonymous. "People didn't call up to complain." The voice on the recording says: "Yeah baby, you've reached the right place. If this is your first time, don't be shy … If you are under 18 or do not wish to be billed just $2.99 to $4.99 a minute hang up now."

Goodfella.com

The man who gave us Goodfellas is trying to make a little more money off the mob. Henry Hill, whose life was chronicled in the gangster classic, has launched a Web site hawking autographed posters and other memorabilia. Hill, who turned against fellow mobsters in court, was booted from the federal government's Witness Protection Program in 1987, after being convicted of burglary, assault and drunken driving. Now, he says, he needs revenue from his Web site to pay the rent. A personally autographed Goodfellas script goes for $59.95. He says, "Get yours before I get whacked."

Peanut Waste Munchies

You love potato chips. But what about peanut chips? Researchers from the University of Georgia think they've stumbled on the next snack food frontier: peanut chips. Perhaps you don't want to think about cramming compressed peanut waste into your gut. But developers say it's a high-protein, low-fat alternative to traditional Ruffles. Plus there's also an environmental angle: You see, they've got to find a place for all the peanut waste after processors press nuts for peanut oil. So feel good about yourself. You're not a chip-munching human garbage can. You're saving precious landfill space. You might be fat. But you're munching for Mother Nature.

Buck Wolf is a producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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