Hard Science

Yep, Your Penis Can Shrink — Here’s How To Keep It In Check

You might not be as well-endowed as you used to be.

Originally Published: 
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The penis, such a curious organ. Many men are (understandably) obsessed with the size of their member and are concerned that their penis is getting smaller. And your penis size may really be under threat. To answer a question Elaine Benes so memorably asked, is penis shrinkage real? Definitely, and a shriveled penis doesn’t just show up after a dip in the pool. Penis shrinking occurs with age.

Penises change over time, and penis shrinking is real. Erections naturally get smaller and less firm as a person ages, urologists confirm. But although there’s nothing men can do to stop a shriveled penis altogether, there’s a hell of a lot they can do to make penis shrinkage worse.

Is Penis Shrinking Real?

“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, M.D., 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, and testicles produce less sperm, which makes them appear smaller too, giving off the appearance that the penis might be shrinking.

But the penis itself isn’t exactly shrinking, explains David Shusterman, M.D., 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.”

Top 5 Causes of Penis Shrinkage

1. Age

The penis loses collagen and elasticity with age and experiences more cell death, which can decrease blood flow. This can make erections not as large as they were in your youth. Decreased sperm production can make the testicles smaller, which can make the penis look smaller too.

2. Weight Gain

Putting on weight in the stomach area makes the penis less visible. So even if there isn’t penis shrinkage, your penis can appear smaller.

3. Smoking

Smoking can injure blood vessels in the penis, which may mean erections don’t get as large as before your started smoking.

4. Prostate Surgery

Getting your prostate removed as cancer treatment causes penis shrinkage in 71% of people, according to one study.

5. Medications

Medications such as Adderall, antidepressants, and some drugs used to treat an enlarged prostate can lead to penis shrinking.

How to Stop Your Penis From Shrinking

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 shrinking, 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 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.”

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