Does Penis Size Change With Age?
With advancing age, human body undergoes metabolic, hormonal and physical changes. In most normal individuals, these changes are physiological and does not drastically interfere with normal day to day activities. For example, greying of hair, appearance of wrinkles and age lines, declining energy levels and sagging of skin are some examples. But you may it rather disturbing that size and dimensions of certain organs may also change with aging process.
What Changes To Expect In Penis With Age?
Most men complaints that their penis shrinks or reduce in size with age. Although, in some cases it may just be an illusion (for example, with weight gain or abdominal obesity, the size of penis may appear shorter than it actually is). But it is also true that some degree of shrinkage and other changes are quite possible with aging. It is noteworthy that this is not an overnight happening. Due to metabolic and hormonal changes, the process starts as early as mid-40s.
According to a new study, investigators suggested that an average man can lose up to 1 – 1.5 cm of penile length by the time he turn 65 years.
Besides reduction in size, other changes in the length and morphology of penis include:
- Color: In young males, penis appears darker in color, due to rich network of blood vessels that surrounds the soft spongy penile tissue. However, as a man age, the penis appears lighter and more mottled in color.
- Testicular size: Experts believe that a significant reduction in the size of testicles is a common occurrence. An average male can lose up to one-third to two-third of testicular size by the time he turns 60.
- Curvature changes: Some men may experience curvature changes (or bending of penis) with advancing age. These changes may interfere with the self-esteem and confidence of the affected person; therefore demands emergent attention. It is imperative to mention that curvature changes are not physiological and may be suggestive of diseases like Peyronie’s disease that occurs more frequently in aging males.
- Sagging of scrotum: Drooping of scrotal sac is also common in elderly males due lo loss of collagen and elastin proteins the skin.
But don’t think aging only make things worse. Some positive age related changes include
- Decline in the growth and thickness of pubic hair (due to declining testosterone levels).
- Although, it is more difficult to reach orgasm as you age, many men tend to control their ejaculation (thereby prolonging their moments of intimacy).
What Causes Changes In The Size Of Penis And Testicles?
Testosterone is the most vital male hormone that plays a major role in maintaining physical and sexual functions. However, after 30, the secretion of testosterone declines gradually. According to a study conducted on laboratory mice, investigators suggested that male penis has a rich concentration of androgen receptors that responds to serum testosterone levels. With advancing age or declining testosterone levels, the receptors send negative signals that leads to involution (or degradation of penile tissue); thereby presenting as shrinkage of penis (1). Besides declining testosterone and androgen receptor insensitivity, other factors can also contribute to these changes. These are:
- Circulatory changes: The blood vessels harden and becomes less elastic with advancing age (a process referred to as atherosclerosis). The inelasticity of vessels directly interferes with the delivery of blood to peripheral organs. With severe reduction in the circulatory pressure, the end-tissues (such as penis and testicles) shrinks in size.
- Scar tissue formation: Certain localized or systemic conditions can also cause shrinkage of penis. For example shrinkage up to an inch in some cases due to formation of scar tissue or fibrosis is a possibility in Peyronie’s disease, according to a study reported in the BJU international (2). Scarring or fibrosis is usually a result of ongoing inflammation or infection.
- Prostate surgery: Loss of penile length is also reported in males who undergo prostate surgery (prostatectomy) due to nerve damage as well as scarring (2).
How To Address Age-Related Penile Changes In the Male Population?
Some oral preparation such as Tadalafil helps in improving the overall quality of sex life in certain situations (such as post- prostatectomy penile shortening and ED). Besides pharmacological preparations, certain surgeries and procedures can also do wonders. For example, according to a study reported in the World Journal of Urology (4), investigators analyzed the clinical outcome and quality of results in elderly males (over the age of 75 years), who underwent penile inflatable prosthetic implant surgery. Based on the data obtained from 216 patients, it was observed that patient satisfaction score and sexual performance was excellent in males over the age of 75 years (95%).
If reduction in penis size is asymptomatic, you may not need any treatment or management. However, if changes in size are significant and/or interfering with your capacity to enjoy healthy sex, you should speak to your doctor regarding possible treatment options.
1. Rajfer, J., Namkung, P. C., & Petra, P. H. (1980). Identification, partial characterization and age-related changes of a cytoplasmic androgen receptor in the rat penis. Journal of steroid biochemistry, 13(12), 1489-1492.
2. Berookhim, B. M., Nelson, C. J., Kunzel, B., Mulhall, J. P., & Narus, J. B. (2014). Prospective analysis of penile length changes after radical prostatectomy. BJU international, 113(5b), E131-E136.
3. Veale, D., Miles, S., Read, J., Troglia, A., Carmona, L., Fiorito, C., … & Muir, G. (2015). Phenomenology of men with body dysmorphic disorder concerning penis size compared to men anxious about their penis size and to men without concerns: a cohort study. Body image, 13, 53-61.
4. Chung, E., Solomon, M., DeYoung, L., & Brock, G. B. (2014). Clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction rates among elderly male aged≥ 75 years with inflatable penile prosthesis implant for medically refractory erectile dysfunction. World journal of urology, 32(1), 173-177.