What Science Tells Us About Being a Grower vs. a Shower

And what it doesn’t

January 30, 2023 6:15 am
a large pickle next to a cornichon on a gradient purple background
You're not in a pickle either way.
Gabriel Serrano

Are you a “grower” or a “shower”?

There are few penis owners who haven’t been asked this question, and it is so embedded into the cultural lexicon that we can’t escape it as a concept. We are #obsessed.

Why? Because of our toxic idea of what it means to be a “man.” We’re hot for the debate of grower vs. shower because big penises are still at the pinnacle of what we consider peak masculinity. Your dick can’t even catch a break when it’s flaccid. How can anyone handle that much pressure? Frankly, it’s bullshit. 

Dr. Justin Lehmiller, research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and scientific advisor to Lovehoney, says that being a shower is important to men because they want to be able to show off their penis at any time, not just when erect. “[It] may be seen as a boost to their confidence or self-esteem to the extent that it attracts attention or validation” he says. “Penis size is such a major source of anxiety for so many men.”

We can tell you right now that falling into either of these two camps is completely normal. We need to stop placing so much importance on penis size and focus instead on actual sexual skills. But in case you’re still wondering why some people are growers and others are showers, here is what the science tells us — and what it doesn’t.

What Does It Mean to Be a Grower or a Shower?

A grower is someone whose penis is much smaller when flaccid than when erect. A shower is someone whose penis is close to the same size when flaccid as it is when erect, or the penis looks quite substantial no matter the physical state. The idea is that the person looking at the penis is being “shown” what they can expect during sex. 

Dr. Evan Goldstein — an anal surgeon, sexual health expert and founder of Bespoke Surgical — reiterates that there is a lot of variation in penis size. “Some people vary dramatically in size when they’re flaccid vs. erect, while others remain relatively the same size regardless of which state they’re in,” he says.

The Science Behind Growers and Showers

While there are many theories running rampant on the why behind being a grower vs. shower, experts agree that it comes down to one simple thing: genetics. Yep, it’s really out of your control. Whether you’re a grower or a shower depends on the amount of collagen you have and the elasticity of your penile tissue. “There is no correlation between race, social behaviors, environmental factors or even sexual health,” Goldstein says.

When it comes to what is more “common,” a study from 2018 of 274 participants showed that 74% of people are showers. While this sample size was quite small and may not be representative of the whole male-bodied population, it does give us some insight. Basically, science tells us that growing or showing happens as a result of complex genetic development. Everyone is different, and that’s okay.

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This Is All Very Normal

Penises are all unique — no two are exactly the same. “Some men have smaller, thinner penises and some men have larger and thicker penises,” Dr. Anika Ackerman, a urologist specializing in sexual medicine, says. “Some penises grow larger with erections and some do not.”

Penises can also vary in size depending on where you are mentally, physically or environmentally at the time. Goldstein points out that some people may be growers or showers depending on external factors. “Things like weather (colder temperatures naturally make the penis smaller), stress and current states of mental stimulation can all affect how big or small your penis is at any given time,” he says. 

The Perks of Being a Grower or a Shower

The perks of being a shower or grower are purely psychological. If you’re a shower, you probably aren’t self-conscious about the state of your flaccid penis. This, in turn, could lead to more body confidence. “To the extent that your flaccid penis size affects how others see you (specifically, as more vs. less attractive), there could be psychological impacts,” Lehmiller says.

But Goldstein reminds us that as long as you’re able to perform the way you want to, how your penis looks while flaccid is kind of meaningless. “Can you get and stay erect when you want to?,” he says. “Can you give pleasure to yourself and your partner? These are the important questions — not whether you’re a grower or a shower.”

Either Way, It Won’t Impact Your Sexual Performance

There is quite literally zero evidence that being a grower or shower makes you better or worse in bed. Some people have the toxic masculine idea that a bigger penis means the person is better at sex. This just isn’t true. We need to let go of the penis shame, give male-bodied people a break and focus on enjoying pleasure rather than obsessing about penis size. 

We need to stop worrying about this because it’s messing with our heads. The only time being a grower or shower could impact you is if you’re so worried about it that anxiety makes it impossible for you to get an erection. “The reality is whether or not someone’s self confidence is affected by being a grower vs. shower, and if it bothers them so much that it has a negative impact on their sex life,” Goldstein says. 

Being a grower or shower isn’t going to make you better or worse in bed. In fact, penis size in general has very little to do with sexual performance. Communication during sex while being able to give and receive pleasure are the things that actually make sex good, not the size of your dick.

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