Lecce, Dysmorphophobia and false myths about sex: misconceptions about one's body

In the meeting reserved for schools, in the context of the Congress of Medicine organized by the Fondazione Foresta Onlus, Dr. Agostino Specchio, endocrinologist of ASL – Foggia, gave an important lesson on the erroneous convictions concerning sexuality. Many teenagers do not accept certain parts of their body (especially nose, breast and penis) because they are convinced that they are inadequate and develop bodily dysmorphism, becoming dependent on plastic surgery, or performing problematic behaviors. One of the false myths that lead to these problems is that of penis length, especially in a world where sex becomes consumption and quantity, rather than intimacy and quality.

Dysmorphophobia is a state of discomfort, especially adolescence, due to the conviction of having a defect in physical appearance, which can be totally imaginary. Possible that the physical anomaly is really there, but the concern is not proportionate to the problem and the relationships, especially with the partner, are affected.

Face, nose, ears, hair, mouth, penis, breast, feet, buttocks, any part of the body can become a problem based on fees established by society and advertising. In dysmorphophobia, frustration can affect several parts of the body at the same time.

When the disorder remains in adults, the problem is more complicated and not easy to solve. Psychotherapy could be very useful in all cases, to teach oneself to accept oneself, but also to remove false beliefs. Yes, because there are those who are convinced, without any scientific basis, that their body does not go well. It is the case of adolescents convinced that they cannot have sex because they have a small penis, based on the canons of pornographic films, as Dr. Specchio explained in his meeting with the schools.

These beliefs are soon becoming a disorder: one can concentrate for many hours a day on the "defect". After so long thinking about remedying it, you end up enslaved by cosmetic surgery or self-manipulation that can make the situation worse. When these thoughts become dominant, the situation is already critical: they begin to avoid opportunities for work, school and social contact. The compulsions to hide the alleged defects become unsustainable.

We must be careful that some form of depression does not occur: better to act first with psychotherapy sessions.


Doctor, the problems with false myths stem from the fact that boys only learn about sex often through online pornography, don't they?

"The school does not have the time to tackle this issue well. Of course, to talk about this topic at school you should have the skills. The professors dealing with biology or science do not have a background that allows them to tackle these issues with children. It would take a structure behind ".

However, information and a culture of prevention must be made. If he can't do school, who does it?

"The school, meanwhile, can do it through meetings with local health experts, andrologists and endocrinologists like today. We are trying to broaden Professor Foresta's project throughout Italy: all the local health authorities adhere and collaborate because they are very useful initiatives to prevent many urological problems. The trouble is that we need more professionals dedicated to these projects of meeting with students. We need to use more human resources to meet the students, visit them and also to do what we did in Cerignola: andrological ultrasound. This prevents infertility, tumors and many other problems. Just to enter the schools, to inform and talk with the boys, it would take many professionals ".

With schools we should also address the taboo issues: the complex of penis size, that of the small breast in a woman. Today we discovered through his report that the average length of the penis is 12.5 centimeters. Yet the obsession with dimensions often becomes pathology. An obsession based on incorrect information.

"Yes, we are often faced with a real obsession called dysmorphophobia: the feeling of inadequacy that the subject matures towards himself on the basis of canons inculcated from outside. Nose, breast and penis can become a complex and a problem in adolescence".

The attractive girls (more and more young) now resort to plastic surgery when their breasts are not included in the fees that advertising imposes …

"Of course, sometimes they become dependent on surgery without there being any need for it because they are pleasant and young women, but the conviction of not being adequate torments them".

Now the fashion for penis enlargement through surgery is breaking out, isn't it?

"It is not a widespread phenomenon, as is the case for women, but more and more men resort to surgery to obtain larger penile measurements, with often disappointing results. Advertising is often misleading. One of my patients happened to read on the national site an advertisement in which it was written that with a small intervention (a few cuts) one could get 5 centimeters more. My patient went to Monza to get surgery after reading these things. His expectations were completely disregarded. He started with a good erectile function and returned with an altered erectile function. What many neglect and that is such an intervention can also involve erectile dysfunction. We risk impotence ".

Are you telling me that the surgery that many porn stars resort to can make them helpless?

"Sure. In some cases, yes. "

Can penile punctures to inflate it also be a problem?

"Of course. Certainly I can give rise to important disorders: the penis can remain erect for several hours with these interventions and this can be very harmful because the penis goes into necrosis, if it remains in an erection for too long. It is clear that the actor who is on the film set, surrounded by dozens of people, needs to resort to surgery and other tricks to make the most of it, but the risk is high ".

Is it true that punctures and surgery also expose penile ruptures during intercourse?

"Yes, albuginea rupture can occur, the envelope of fibrous connective tissue of the penis: it is an inextensible membrane that envelops the corpora cavernosa. When the membrane is inappropriately stressed it goes into ruptures ”.

Why can't we deal with these problems in the family or at school? Is it a problem of modesty?

"It is modesty, but often unprepared. These problems need to be addressed with experts. The clinic has a fundamental role, but together with the gynecologist the andrologist should work ".

The counseling center could help adolescents live their sexuality more serene, right?

"Of course. Many are convinced that they have an inadequate penis or inadequate breasts and think that sexual performance with their partner is affected by that size, but in reality the size does not matter. The satisfaction of women, for example, does not depend absolutely on the length of the penis. Most receptors sensitive to sexual pleasure are placed at the mouth of the vagina: therefore deep penetrations with enormous penises are not necessary (there is no impact on the perception of female pleasure). The large request is only a pornographic model is a request due to psychological beliefs. The same goes for the size of the breast, which are not determined to cause a man's pleasure, but are just a visual part that can be compensated for by something else. Puglia and Lazio are leaders, with these projects, to make the right information ".

Gaetano Gorgoni

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