I’m in my first relationship and I’m getting really anxious about the way my penis looks, especially its size. I’m worried about how my partner will react when they see me naked. What should I do?

It’s very common for young people (and people of any age) to feel insecure about their body sometimes. And while a lot of conversations about body image focus on girls, boys are definitely not immune!

Getting naked around someone else can be nerve-wracking for anyone, no matter what their body looks like. It can be especially anxiety-producing if it’s with someone new, or if sex itself is new. After all, being naked with someone else is a really vulnerable experience!

When it comes to penis size, there’s some extra baggage that you may be dealing with. Having a “large” penis is associated with being “manlier” (whatever that means), and being able to please your partner. On top of that, mainstream porn usually shows only extremely large penises, making many people with average (and even larger-than-average) penises think they’re small.

Here’s the thing. Your penis has nothing to do with who you are as a person, the way you treat your partner or your ability to make them feel good during sex.

Just like other body parts, penises come in all shapes and sizes. The length, width, shape, way it bends, how hairy it is, where it points when it gets erect (or hard) and more all vary a ton! In addition, some people are circumcised (meaning the foreskin that covers the head of the penis is removed, usually for cultural or religious reasons), and some people are not. Both are completely normal and ok!

If you haven’t already, consider talking to your partner about how you’re feeling. This is an opportunity to build emotional intimacy that goes beyond the physical. How much detail you go into about what you’re feeling is totally up to you.  If your partner is kind and supportive, hopefully it will make you feel more confident about yourself and closer to your partner. Chances are that they have insecurities of their own, and can relate to how you’re feeling.

If they react (to your conversation or to seeing you naked) with judgment or unkindness, think hard about your relationship. Do you really want to be physically or emotionally intimate with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself? Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect and kindness, and you deserve a healthy relationship.

Feeling good about and comfortable in your body might take time and work.

That’s completely normal, and you’re not alone. Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself about your body. Recognize when you’re putting yourself down, and try to think about things that you like about your body instead. We talk more about body image here.

In addition, it’s very possible that your nervousness about your body is wrapped up in nervousness about sex. Having sex with someone new, or for the first time, is bound to create some nerves. That’s normal and ok. But if you’re feeling seriously anxious about it, think hard about whether you want to have sex with your partner right now. Different people are ready for sex at different times, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to wait. It’s all about what works for you and your partner.

When you do decide to have sex, make sure to use a condom the right way, every time. There are lots of different sizes, textures and flavors out there, so don’t worry if you have to try a few to find one that works best for you.

If you’re 10-22 years old and have any other questions about sex, healthy relationships or self-esteem, you can make a free, confidential appointment at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center for completely non-judgmental health care.