A study based on a sample size of 217 South African men has produced some interesting insights into the health and habits of male genitalia. Picture: Supplied

Most South African men don’t care about the size of their penis but rather how you use it, many like ‘him’ to be called Popeye or Mobi Dick (age dependent) and some men DON’T change their underwear daily, according to a study.

The research was undertaken by the South African Pelvic Research Organisation On Body Empowerment (SAPROBE), in collaboration with premium underwear brand Frankees, aimed to investigate phallic organ matters.

Findings are based on a sample size of 217 men in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria where the health and habits of male genitalia were investigated. Frankees and SAPROBE released the findings as World Penis Day was commemorated on June 12 with the hope of using the unofficial, more quirky day to also draw attention to serious matters of men's health in South Africa. The objective of the research was to establish the male populations’ relationship with their phallic organs - supporting the study of andrology, a counterpart to gynaecology which delves into medical issues which are specific to male reproductive and urologic health.

Some of the more quirkier findings included that:

  • Nationally, 32% of males have dubbed Popeye as their phallic alter ego and 14% as Elvis. Males aged 55+ highlighted Moby Dick as the reigning champion.
  • Regarding sneaker similarities, 36% referred to their penile sneaker similarity as the Chuck Taylor, 30.5% as Stan Smiths, 24% as the Air Jordan and 9% as the Carvela in Durban (44%) preferred the Air Jordan and overall 50% of males aged 55+ resonated with the classic Carvela.
  • Asked, Which emoji would best describe your penis? The report noted “a significant relationship between the phallic organ and the shape of fruit and vegetables”. The banana (42%) rating tops as the most favoured similarity, coming in at second, was the mielie (22%)  followed by 14% of men, who feel a marrow is a better match. Men aged between 55+ years (20%) preferred to use the reference of a farm carrot.
  • If your penis could be represented by any colour of the rainbow, which one would it be? Blue topped the list (44% of men), with 34% preferring red. “Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body”, the report noted.
  • The majority of men (65%) advised that size doesn’t matter but more in the way you use it. 54% men rated their phallic size as average, with 38% rating the size a 7 out of 10. Secondary to its usage, factors such as length (16%), shape (10%) and girth (9%) were called out as being vital.

“In a study amongst UK based women in 2017 on length vs. girth - length trumped the top of the list. Males however have highlighted that ‘how you use it’ trumps length, shape and girth. Scientifically, the term to best describe the findings is - confidence.”, the report said.

Individuals in the test group were described as being “of sound mind and legal sexually active age”. “For qualitative purposes of the data the age groups varied from 18 to 35+ - taking into account region, sexual activity and awareness of the phallic organ,” said the report.

On a more serious and concerning note, a number of insights were also revealed relating to circumcision, prostate wellness and male hygiene.

  • The survey revealed that only 53% of the sample size have undergone circumcision. The breakdown per city comes in as follows: Durban (70%), Johannesburg (63%), Cape Town (52%) and Pretoria (25%). They found that some males undergo circumcision for religious or health reasons.
  • On testicular health, the majority of men have not had their prostates checked - 90% of Johannesburg males have not consulted with a medical expert, Cape Town (77%) with both Durban (70%) and Pretoria coming in at 75%. 
  • On phallic hygiene, the report noted that according to the Good Housekeeping Institute , 83% of clean underwear already contains 10 000 living bacteria. In the sample size in Durban and Pretoria, 100% of men change their underwear on a daily basis. However, in Cape Town (98%) and Johannesburg (96%) of men change their underwear on a daily basis. As for the need for new underwear, 52% highlight worn out seams. Saggy underpants (26%) come in at second. Approximately, 20% throw out underwear - 23% of males claim they purchase new underwear if they can’t find them.

“Holding onto your underwear for longer than a year can lead to significant health risks such as urinary tract and yeast infections,” said the report.

The study took into account that men take everyday phallic management quite lightly, “SAPROBE is challenging men to change tact and have produced a White Paper Report to highlight their findings.”

Clinical sexologist and couple therapist, Dr Marlene Wasserman, better known as Dr Eve, said: “All men tend to think about their penises but rarely do they discuss their concerns or feelings with their partners or peers. Often, men have a complicated relationship with their phallic organs as they consider this as a means to assert social power and boost their confidence, rarely discussing their sexual health.”

She said the survey allowed men to candidly tackle some serious topics and shed light on various issues previously undiscussed.

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