Google "penis myths" and you get over 2.2 million results. That tells you something about the power and pervasiveness of half-truths and outright lies about the male sex organ. But some of those myths are more damaging than others. In the interest of pleasure, of happiness, of education and fun, here are our Top Five Penis Myths.

Myth: The penis is a muscle.

This myth gets peddled by those dudes who want to sell techniques for "strengthening" and lengthening the penis. But in fact, the penis isn't a muscle. It's a collection of spongy tissues that rely entirely on engorgement with blood to become erect. The most important muscle in terms of getting and sustaining a hard-on is the heart. Draw your own conclusions from that.

Some experts believe you can strengthen erections by building your kegel muscles (men and women have them). This involves repetitive squeezing, as if you're holding back and then releasing urine. For men, strong kegels may help with premature ejaculation — and they may intensify orgasm.

Myth: the average penis is seven inches long.

Most straight men judge penis size based on two things: the flaccid penises they see in locker rooms, and the swollen erections of male porn stars. Neither is an accurate gauge of "averages." Porn stars are, um, huge, at least for the most part. And the size of a penis when flaccid has nothing to do with the size of that same organ when erect. Two men could look identically sized when soft, and be dramatically different when erect.

So the average American penis is … a little over five inches long when fully erect.

Myth: "A hard dick has no conscience."

I'm often asked whether erections take blood from the brain, thus inhibiting decision making. Though erections are indeed caused by blood flow into the penis, the body has more than enough blood to support the operation of every other organ during physical arousal. There is no scientific evidence that a hard-on impairs cognitive function. In other words, guys can't justify assault or infidelity based on biology. A penis may have no conscience (flaccid or hard), but the moral center of the brain (the frontal lobe) does — and that moral center keeps right on working, no matter how turgid the erection. By the way: women get clitoral erections. But I've never heard anyone claim that a swollen clit has no conscience.

Myth: size matters-or doesn't matter.

Many men are incredibly anxious about penis size. Usually, they're anxious about penis length (see myth #3), and less focused on the equally important issue of penis girth. (Ask straight women and gay men with some experience, and they'll assure you that width can be as important — or problematic — as length). The truth is that some people do prefer to have sex with someone who has a larger or a smaller penis, while others may not care at all. But even those who do have a preference will likely report that size matters, but is far from the only factor in great sex. Size matters, but so too do touch, smell, chemistry, dexterity, and countless other factors. Being "well-hung" is, in and of itself, no guarantee you'll be a great lover.

Myth: your penis isn't part of you.

Too many men describe their penises as tools they use: rods, shafts, hammers, swords, fuck sticks … you get the idea. The language is violent — think of the old euphemism for male masturbation, "beating the meat"! But our penises don't just belong to us, they are part of us. They reveal a truth about us, too: vulnerable and squishy more often than rigid, surprisingly soft to the touch, capable of feeling — and giving — both great pleasure and great pain. They do not perform on command. Drugs can alter how they behave. We don't think with our penises, but they are — inextricably — part of us: flawed, powerful, vulnerable, beautiful.

More from The Good Men Project:

The Male Body: Repulsive Or Beautiful?
The Blessings Of Erectile Dysfunction

This piece originally appeared on Sir Richard's Condom Company blog and at The Good Men Project. Republished with permission.

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