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Growers vs Showers: Does it Matter?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 05/20/2024

There are a lot of urban legends about both showers and growers out there, but what’s really in a name?

Science hasn’t published enough penis growth or sex life research to prove being a grower vs. shower matters to the size of your penis, your sexual prowess, or really anything but your own confidence.

Still, your confidence is an important element of your sexual health, so if you’re truly curious where you fall and what it means, read on. Below we’ve explained the scientific differences between growers and showers, how to tell whether you’re in one camp or the other, and what to do with the information once you’ve measured.

Being a grower or a shower doesn’t indicate how much shrinkage happens when it’s cold or how big your erect penis is — it’s actually a question of how much your resting flaccid penis extends when it becomes erect.

With growers, penises get significantly longer when they become hard. A shower’s penis, on the other hand, doesn’t extend much when it goes from flaccid to erect.  

Rumors swirl that one team has a larger average penis size than the other, and one 2018 review in the Journal of Impotence Research analyzing data from 73 men who fit the description of grower (≥4.0 cm change in length from flaccid to erect) and 205 men who fit the definition of shower (<4cm change) did show that while there was no significant difference in flaccid penis size, growers “gain” on average about 2.2 centimeters more with erections than showers.

However, that’s not a particularly substantial difference (a little more than 3/4 of an inch) — and larger, multicultural, and multinational studies are needed to confirm these findings.

If you’re curious about average penis size and what constitutes a “large” penis, check out our guide on the ‘ideal’ penis size

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Currently, there is no consensus about what biological or genetic factors may affect your likelihood of being a grower or a shower — or what affects your penis size in general.

The scientific explanation for the differences, meanwhile, is fairly simple to understand.

Urology experts at the European Association of Urology or EAU, which defined growers as >56% change in length from flaccid to erect, and showers as <31% change in length, found that the tunica albuginea — the fibrous tube that encloses the inflating tissues of your penis — was typically thinner on growers. The most common reason for this difference, they say, may be age.

In general, research shows that older men were less likely to be growers primarily because the erectile tissue, collagen, and other tissues in the penis tend to lose their elasticity over time.

In other words, as you age, your “grower” elasticity is more likely to transition into a permanent state of “shower” functionality.

Choose your chew

Finding out whether you’re a grower or a shower is relatively easy — you just need to take a couple of measurements.

We’ll break it down:

  • First, measure your flaccid penis. You’ll measure the length (we’re not worried about girth here) from the tip to the base.

  • Next, get into an erect state, and measure your erect penis length from the same reference points as when you measured yourself in the flaccid state.

  • Finally, subtract the flaccid penile length from your erect penis size to determine how much enlargement you experience going from flaccid to erect.

If the difference in those two numbers is greater than 4 centimeters (or 1.5 inches), it means that you’re a grower. If the difference is less, you’re a shower. Alternatively you can calculate the percent change, and if that is more than 56% it means you’re a grower, and if that is less than 31% you’re a shower.

Probably not for your health or sex life, at least according to current research.

While the 2018 review suggested that growers’ erect penises are on average 2.4 centimeters longer, on average, compared to showers — which also correlated with age, even that study’s authors cautioned that their relatively small study size of just about 300 men was not enough to make conclusions, and that more and larger scale research was needed.

Generally, most genital measurement data suggests that there are no known differences between so-called growers and showers.

That said, research into men’s health has established a number of reasons that your penis could shrink over time, including comorbidities like reduced testosterone or impaired sexual function that could reduce penis size.

Age can also change the amount of visceral fat or body fat that someone carries, which can bury or cover portions of the length of a man’s penis in some circumstances making it appear to have shrunk.

There’s even some indication that a serious smoking history could impact penis size over the course of someone’s life.

What really seems to matter is that you’re comfortable with your penis and confident using it. 

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Being a grower or a shower may feel important in the locker room, but to your urologist, these things aren’t really a big deal. Instead, proper erectile function is what makes someone “healthy.”

Here’s how we see it:

  • Growers tend to be younger men, while older men are more likely to be showers.

  • This is predominantly due to the changes in elasticity that the tissues of your erection go through over time.

  • Limited research suggests growers may be bigger when erect on average, but it hasn’t been backed by appropriately large follow-up studies. Right now, there’s no reliable evidence to suggest one label or the other has a bigger penis on average.

If you’re concerned about the size of your penis or how aging might be affecting you, consider seeking medical advice to determine whether you’re at risk for health conditions that could reduce the size or effectiveness of your erections.

Not sure where to start? Hims can connect you with a healthcare professional.

We can also help with the management of erectile dysfunction using erectile dysfunction medications like PDE5 inhibitors. Common PDE5 medications increase blood flow to your penis, and they include familiar names like sildenafil (Generic for Viagra), tadalafil (generic for Cialis), or Stendra (Avanafil).

5 Sources

  1. European Association of Urology. (2023). Press release: Difference between “growers” and “showers” revealed.
  2. Yafi, F. A. et al. (2018). Grower or shower? Predictors of change in penile length from the flaccid to erect state. International Journal of Impotence Research.
  3. Iacono, Fabrizio et al. (2012). Testosterone deficiency causes penile fibrosis and organic erectile dysfunction in aging men. Evaluating association among Age, TDS and ED.
  4. Hunter, Gary R. et al. (2010). Age Related Shift in Visceral Fat.
  5. Di Mauro, Marina et al. (2021). Penile length and circumference dimensions: A large study in young Italian men.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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