Men’s relationship with their penises can be complex and nuanced. There are often social pressures and expectations placed on men to perform sexually and have a certain level of physical endowment. It’s not news that the societal messaging emphasizing size above all else and linking that to sexual skill is responsible for a lot of anxiety in men. This is why any mention of penis shrinkage is likely to be met with fear and trepidation. There’s no need to fear though. Let’s talk about the reasons why a penis may shrink and what you can do about it.
Causes of penis shrinkage
Penis shrinkage is a decrease in penis size. Penises change over time and one of the most common changes is shrinking.
One common reason for penis shrinkage is ageing. The penis loses elasticity with age. It also experiences more cell death which can decrease blood flow which can make erections smaller than they were in your youth. Sperm production also decreases with age which can make the testicles appear smaller which can make the penis look smaller too.
In some instances, scarring from repeated injuries to your penis during sex or sports activities can cause scar tissue to build up on what was formerly the supple and elastic sheath surrounding the erectile tissue in your penis. This can reduce the overall size and limit the size of one’s erections.
One study found that up to 70% of men who undergo a procedure to remove their cancerous prostate gland experience penis shrinkage. One possible reason is the contracting abdominal muscles after the surgery pull the penis further into the body. Another reason is the difficulty getting erections post-surgery starves the erectile tissue of oxygen which leads to shrinkage of the spongy erectile tissue. The average decrease ranges from ½ to ¾ and inches (1.27 to 1.9 centimetres).
Certain medications including Adderall which is prescribed for attention deficit or hyperactivity can cause penis shrinkage. Others that can cause shrinkage include antidepressants, antipsychotics and drugs prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate.
In Peyronie’s disease, fibrous scar tissue makes the penis develop an extreme curvature that makes intercourse painful or impossible altogether. The disease can reduce the length and girth of your penis and the treatment which involves surgery to remove the scar tissue causing it can further reduce the size of the penis. Peyronie’s disease affects an estimated 23% of men between the ages of 40 to 70 but the numbers could be higher because of the many men who likely don’t seek treatment because of embarrassment. In some instances, it goes away on its own but most of the time it worsens until surgery is performed.
Weight gain for men, particularly around the waist is a serious concern among men as they age. When your abdomen is bigger, it can make your penis appear smaller even though it hasn’t necessarily shrunk. The penis is attached to the abdominal walls and when the abdomen expands, it pulls the penis inward making it looks smaller. Once someone loses weight, their penis regains its usual shape and size.
Smoking can injure blood vessels in the penis which once injured prevent the penis from filling with blood and stretching. Once the blood vessels are damaged, bye-bye erections. One study found that smokers had shorter erect penises compared to non-smokers. Smoking is also associated with erectile dysfunction.
What to do
- Stay in shape and avoid the dreaded belly fat
- Be kind to yourself, this is just life, not a reflection of your masculinity, manhood or value
- Remember penis size does not matter to women as much as men think it does
- If you suspect something is wrong, seek medical attention. There’s no shame in that.
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