One of the best ways to promote penis health is for a man to know what he’s working with. There are several misconceptions that prevent men from properly caring for, using and feeling good about their equipment; this can have an impact on physical, sexual and emotional well-being. Everyone deserves to be informed about his or her body and all its glorious components, and myths about the body therefore deserve debunking. It’s time for the following penis myths to be laid to rest.

Myth #1: The average erect penis is 8 inches long.

Not even close. Research has established that the average erect penis measures within the 5.5- to 6.3-inch range. If men are comparing their members to the fictitious 8-inch average, they probably think they’re packing insufficient heat when they’re most likely average. (And besides, even a below-average-length penis can provide plenty of pleasure to a partner.)

Myth #2: Erections should be perfectly straight.

Not so. Curves are actually quite common - and usually harmless. In fact, they can even be beneficial to the sex act; a curved member can stimulate spots in a partner’s vagina or backdoor region that a straight penis has a harder time hitting. Curvature is only considered a problem if it interferes with sexual activity or causes pain for the man.

Myth #3: The penis is/is not a muscle.

Both of these statements are somewhat untrue, actually. The penis is not composed of skeletal muscle - the kind that attaches to bones, controls movement and generally contracts voluntarily. It does, however, contain a substantial amount of smooth muscle - this makes up roughly 50% of the rod. This type of muscle is also found in organs and blood vessels, and it contracts involuntarily. There are two kinds of smooth muscle in the penis: the corpora cavernosa (two chambers that engorge with blood during an erection) and the corpus spongiosum, which sits between the cavernosa and houses the urethra.

Myth #4: The penis can’t break.

While the penis can’t break in the sense that, say, a forearm can because there’s no bone in the member, it can fracture in its own way. This occurs when one or both corpora cavernosa rupture during an erection and blood escapes. Penis fractures are rare, but can occur during too-vigorous masturbation or sex (particularly when the female partner is on top). This is a very serious injury, marked by immediate severe pain, loss of erection and bruising. If it occurs, a man should get to the emergency room right away.

Myth #5: Most men are circumcised.

While this is true in the U.S., it’s certainly not a worldwide standard. In 2009 the CDC reported that about 35% of newborns in the U.S. were uncut; in the rest of the world, however, about 70% of men remain intact.

Myth #6: The penis has a mind of its own.

It’s true that erections sometimes come out of nowhere and stubbornly remain despite a man’s best wishes; it’s also true that a man can’t simply will an erection. However, the idea that the penis has a mind of its own can lead to some dangerous conclusions, such as the idea that the brain and the penis can’t operate at the same time. The penis doesn’t draw nearly enough blood away from the brain to impair decision-making capacity. Men who think they simply lack control when their peckers perk up are fooling themselves and, in the process, setting themselves up for irresponsible behavior, for which there is no excuse. Use the penis and the brain at the same time; it’s not only possible, but necessary for decent, humane conduct.

Myth #7: There are no male enhancement products that work.

While it’s likely true that the line of products claiming to lengthen the penis - from pills and pumps to weights and stretching devices - are a bunch of malarkey, there are other areas besides length in which penis form and function can be improved. A quality penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) full of vitamins and antioxidants has the potential to enhance appearance, sensitivity levels and circulation within the member. Look for a cream with Shea butter and Vitamin E for smooth skin; vitamin C is also an ideal ingredient, as it can improve blood flow and help keep the skin looking youthful.