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Penis size and Suicide. Not two topics that normally go together. This is Healthcare Triage News. How big is the average penis?

mental_floss episode on sex myths:

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John Green -- Executive Producer
Stan Muller -- Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll -- Writer
Mark Olsen -- Graphics


Penis size and suicide. This is Healthcare Triage News.

[intro music]

 News story #1

The first study's PG-13, or maybe R--I don't, I don't know. Anyway, I hope you've seen the Mental Floss episode we did on sex myths. It's a huge hit, by the way. One of the myths we talked about was penis size.

When we wrote our first book on medical myths, our agent told us we had to sex it up. That's how the first chapter came to be, "Men with big feet have bigger penises." It's made for a problem when my then five-year-old son opened his copy and nearly had his eyes bug out of his head. This was how a chapter in our second book of medical myths was entitled, "You can make your penis bigger without surgery." It's how the first chapter in our third book of medical myths came to be, "Penis sizes matters." In fact, the first three chapters of the last book were about penises. 

People are obsessed with penises, especially their size. Penises sell books. They evidently also get manuscripts published. There was one recently entitled, "Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15,521 men."

This has got to be the definitive systematic review. Here's the key take-home result in a nomogram. Let me break it down for you.

If your erect penis is 4.7 inches, you're at the 25th percentile. If your erect penis is 5.1 inches, you're at the median. Half of men have bigger penises, and half of men have smaller. If your penis is 5.6 inches, then congratulations, you're in the 75th percentile. If you have a 6 inch erect penis, which is what many people think is average, then you're in the 90th percentile.

What's striking here though, is that most men are pretty much the same. The idea that 7-inch penises are common appears to be--wait for it--a myth.

95% of men have penises smaller than 6.3 inches. More than half of men have a penis that's between 4.5 and 5.5 inches. And only 15% are smaller than 4.5 inches.

Everyone should stop worrying about this. I'd love to stop writing about it.

 News story #2

Our second story is more serious, unfortunately. Not too long ago, I wrote a piece at The Upshot on the New York Times on how Denmark has been focusing on things that really kill kids, like suicide, which has had an impressive impact on their outcomes.

Recently, the CDC released a report that shows that things haven't been going as well for similarly aged adolescents and young adults in the United States. Let me quote from it:

"Results of this analysis indicated that during 1994 to 2012, suicide rates by suffocation increased on average by 6.7% and 2.2% annually for females and males, respectively. Increases in suffocation suicide rates occurred across demographic and geographic subgroups during this period."

Their charts are even more compelling. This is suicides per 100,000 population for females aged 10 to 24 years in the United States. Not that you'd have trouble seeing it, but I've highlighted the increase in overall suicide rate in the last 6 years or so. It's not subtle, and it's concerning. We shouldn't ignore it.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in this age group, and accounted for more than 5,000 deaths in 2012 alone. We've gotta do better.

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