The penis is the male organ used for urination and sexual intercourse. The penis is located above the scrotum. It is made of spongy tissue and blood vessels.
The shaft of the penis surrounds the urethra and is connected to the pubic bone.
The foreskin covers the head (glans) of the penis. The foreskin is removed if the boy is circumcised. This is often done shortly after birth, but can be done later in life for various medical and religious reasons.
During puberty, the penis lengthens. The ability to ejaculate begins at around age 12 to 14. Ejaculation is the release of sperm-containing fluid from the penis during an orgasm.
Conditions of the penis include:
- Chordee -- downward curve of the penis
- Epispadias -- urethra opening is on the top of the penis, rather than the tip
- Hypospadias -- urethra opening is on the underside of the penis, rather than at the tip
- Palmatus or webbed penis -- penis is enclosed by the scrotum
- Peyronie disease -- a curve during an erection
- Buried penis -- penis is hidden by a pad of fat
- Micropenis -- penis does not develop and is small
- Erectile dysfunction -- inability to achieve or maintain an erection
Other related topics include:
Elder JS. Anomalies of the penis and urethra. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 559.
Netto GJ, Amin MB. The lower urinary tract and male genital system. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.
Palmer LS, Palmer JS. Management of abnormalities of the external genitalia in boys. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 44.
Ro JY, Divatia MK, Kim K-R, Amin MB, Ayala AG. Penis and scrotum. In: Cheng L, MacLennan GT, Bostwick DG, eds. Urologic Surgical Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 15.
Review Date 4/1/2023
Updated by: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.