The penis, such a curious organ. Many men are (understandably) obsessed with the size of their member. But your penis size may be under threat. To answer a question Elaine Benes so memorably asked, can your penis shrink? Definitely, and a shriveled penis doesn’t just show up after a dip in the pool. Penis shrinkage occurs with age.
Penises change over time, and penis shrinkage is real. Erections naturally get smaller and less firm as a person ages, urologists confirm. Although there’s nothing men can do to stop dick shrinkage altogether, there’s a hell of a lot they can do to make penis shrinkage worse.
Can Your Penis Shrink?
“The penis can lose about a centimeter of length from your rock-solid thirties to when you’re in your about-to-retire sixties,” says Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, a Florida-based urologist. “The difference, honestly, is minute, and many men may not even notice it.”
Penises are made up of three tubes, two of which are vascular and depend on blood flow to become erect. (The third is for funneling out urine.) As men age, the penis loses collagen and elasticity as a result of more cells aging and dying off, like in any other part of the body. All of this affects blood flow throughout the body, including to the penis, making erections smaller and less pronounced than they used to be.
Men also produce less testosterone with age. Testicles produce less sperm, which makes them appear smaller as well, giving off the appearance that the penis might be shrinking.
But the penis itself isn’t exactly shrinking, explains David Shusterman, MD, urologist and founder of NY Urology. “Over the years, a balloon can lose air. But the actual size and coating of the balloon itself does not change,” Shusterman says. “The same is with the penis. It gets less full because the veins that are meant to make it bigger are aging.”
How to Stop Penis Shrinkage
In certain cases, such as when diseases like prostate cancer cause a hormonal imbalance, the penis can “inflate” with the help of hormonal therapy. Shock therapy to unclog veins and open up blood vessels is another treatment scientists are exploring to treat erectile dysfunction as well as age-related penis shrinkage, though it’s not yet FDA-approved.
Both Brahmbhatt and Shusterman agree that the most effective way men can limit penis shrinkage over time is by making healthy lifestyle choices when it comes to diet, exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, and not smoking.
“The reason many men have a larger loss of size overtime is usually due to an enlarging belly. The more fat you have in your belly, the less visible your penis,” Brahmbhatt says. “The best tip to give men to avoid loss of a ton of visible penis is to stay in shape and avoid the belly fat.”
The other thing men can do is to remember that a growing body of research affirms that penis size does not matter to women as much as men think it does, especially when it comes to long-term partner selection. If size didn’t matter in your thirties, it’s probably not going to become an issue several decades into a happy marriage. As long as you’re healthy, your penis will probably be fine.
“The first step is to allow yourself a kinder and more understanding approach,” Shusterman says. “It has nothing to do with your manhood, your size, or your drive.”
As he says, “You are still the same balloon you were born as.”