Penis Basics FAQs

How your tackle works and links to everything you need from erections to vasectomies.

The penis, as you have probably discovered, is used for peeing, making babies and generally having fun with. You're very lucky to have one so take care of it.

The need to know vocabulary

​Pictured above is your tackle in technicolour complete with a few technical terms. 

Sperm are manufactured in the testicles and pass along the epididymis where matured sperm hang out. The epididymis is a microscopically narrow tube 6m long folded into a space of 5cm - an engineering masterpiece. Just before you cum, the sperm travel along two narrow tubes of muscle called vas deferens. These meet with the seminal vesicles which are behind the bladder just above the prostate gland.

The seminal vesicles and the prostate gland add their own secretions to the semen. These fluids are alkaline which protect the sperm from the acid in the vagina. At orgasm, the semen is propelled from two ejaculatory ducts along the urethra which runs the length of the penis and out of the urethral opening.

What is the penis made of?

The penis is basically three cylinders of spongy erectile tissue full of blood vessels. The urethra, the body's outlet tube for both sperm and urine (although only one at a time), passes through the middle of the smallest of these - the corpus spongiosum - which is found on the underside of the penis. The corpus spongiosum expands at the tip to form the head of the penis called the glans. The glans is protected by the foreskin.

Why is my erect penis bent?

Every penis is bit bent and a slight bend upwards is not just normal but desirable.

You may have a problem if your penis is bent to the left or right so much as to make it difficult or even painful to enter your partner during sex.  It could be condition called Peyronie's. This is not an Italian beer. Bent willies are very common and generally do not cause any problem with intercourse. It's a matter of finding what fits, so to speak. If the 'bend' is particularly bad, surgery can improve matters. 

Can the penis break?

It can fracture if it bashes into an immovable object when erect. The most common cause is probably the woman's pubic bone. It can be healed through surgery and splints.

Do I need to clean my penis?

In short, yes. You should wash it every day with warm water when you're having a shower or a bath. If you have a foreskin you should pull it back and wash under it. We need to clean our penises every day because if we don't a cheesy looking substance called smegma builds up. Smegma is the result of a natural lubricant we produce which when we don't wash collects. This builds up and can be a breeding ground for bacteria. It's natural to have some bacteria on your skin but too much on your penis can cause balanitis, which can be very sore and uncomfortable!

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Where can I find out more?

The NHS also has a section of its website devoted to penises.

We don't currently post comments online but are always keen to hear your feedback.

Date published 09/04/14
Date of last review 20/01/21
Date of next review 19/01/24


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