Sexual Disorders

What Causes Penis Shrinkage?

A great deal of a man’s confidence lies in the penis size, but what happens when the penis starts shrinking?

You’ve probably heard a thing or two about the penile shortage but weren’t sure what it is or why it happens. This post brings answers to all questions you may have about this occurrence.

Research on average penis size

All men wonder about the average penile size at one point or another. Scientists have searched for the answer to that question as well. 

British Journal of Urology International published a systematic review of 17 studies on this subject. Up to 17,000 men participated in all these studies combined. 

Findings showed the average length of a flaccid penis is 3.61 inches (9.1cm). On the other hand, the average size of an erect penis is 5.16 inches (13.10cm). The average girth of the flaccid penis is 3.66cm (9.2cm) and 4.59 inches (11.6cm) for an erect penis. A little reminder; girth refers to the circumference of the penis at its widest point.

For the research, scientists also charted sizes and placed them in percentiles. They found the erect penis length of 6.3 inches (16cm) is in the 95th percentile. What does this mean? It means that out of 100 men, only five would have this size of an erect penis. Also, the erect penis size of 3.94 inches (10cm) is in the fifth percentile. As you can conclude, only five out of 100 men would have a 3.94-inch erect penis size.

It’s useful to mention that the size of a flaccid penis isn’t necessarily a predictor of erection size.

If you’re wondering about the size of your penis, it’s important to measure it correctly. To understand the length of the penis, you need to measure from the top to the glans’ tip.

Glans are the rounded head or tip of the penis, while the top of the penis is the point where it connects to the pubic bone. When measuring, make sure to compress any fat in front of the pubic bone. The length of your penis shouldn’t include foreskin. Measure at the base or middle of the shaft to get the size of penile girth.

What is the penile shortage?

The penile shortage is exactly what it says – the reduced size of penile length. This problem doesn’t happen overnight. Also, the penis doesn’t become shorter for no apparent reason. The penile shortage is not a standalone condition. Instead, it is a consequence of multiple factors we’re going to discuss below.

The length of a man’s penis can decrease by up to an inch. A smaller penis doesn’t necessarily affect your sexual performance but may lower your confidence and self-esteem.

They often feel reluctant to engage in sexual activity. The problem is reversible in some cases, but the certain cause of penile shortage makes it permanent. 

What causes a penile shortage?

The idea of penile shortage may seem scary. No man wants his penis to decrease. You can prevent penile shrinkage or manage the problem successfully.

To make it happen, you need to learn as much as you can about the causes. Below we’re going to break down some of the most common reasons for reduced penis size. 

Aging

The natural aging process is probably the most common cause of penile shrinkage. How does it happen?

The penis consists of three tubes, two of which are vascular and depend on blood flow to achieve an erection. They are called corpora cavernosa. The third tube is the urethra, to funnel out the urine.

As you age, the penis loses collagen. With collagen, you also lose elasticity, and it’s all due to the aging of the cells. These changes impair blood flow throughout the body, including your penis.

Since your penis depends on blood flow to get erected and function properly, the erections become smaller. Additionally, the testosterone level decreases with age too. When testosterone goes down, testicles produce less sperm and appear smaller. 

The buildup of plaque in the arteries and the development of atherosclerosis are common as men age. When this happens, the blood circulation reduces throughout the body, including your penis. Muscle cells in the erectile tubes inside the penis weaken. This problem manifests itself through fewer and smaller erections.

Another potential reason behind penile shrinkage in aging is the accumulation of scar tissue. The buildup of scar tissue can occur due to years of small injuries from sports and sex. These injuries can include any part of the genital area, including tunica albuginea.

Excessive masturbation can also contribute to this problem. Scar tissue development impairs spongy erectile tissue in your penis, thus decreasing the size of your manhood.

Prostate surgery

Men who have had radiation therapy for cancer and radical prostatectomy (cancerous prostate gland removal) may experience penile shrinkage. This procedure is a common approach to prostate cancer treatment. One study found that up to 71% of men who underwent prostatectomy experienced penis shrinkage. Scientists aren’t quite sure why men, in this case, have shorter erect penises. 

One theory is that the penis lacks oxygen-rich blood necessary for proper function and erectile strength. Another theory is that the urethral tube shortens after radical prostatectomy too.

As the urethral tube shortens, so does the penis. It’s also possible that abnormal muscle contractions in the groin pull the penis farther into the body. A lot more research is necessary to learn about mechanisms involved in penile shortage after prostate surgery

Weight gain

Simply put, if you gain weight (especially in the lower abdominal area), the penis will look smaller. Shortened penis due to weight gain results from thick pads of fat enveloping the penis shaft. So when you look down, the penis appears shorter. In obese men, thick fat pads may envelop most of the penis. Technically speaking, the exact length of your penis is unchanged, but excess fat makes it look shorter. Weight loss can help solve this problem and improve your sexual pleasure too.

Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease is a noncancerous penile deformity resulting from fibrous scar tissue that forms on the penis. The telltale sign of this disease is a curved penis alongside painful erections. About 23% of men ages 40 to 70 have Peyronie’s disease.

The number could be higher, but many men don’t report this problem to their doctors. The condition itself can shorten the size of erections. Surgery to remove scar tissue may also shorten penis size, but it can help men experience erections without pain and have pleasurable sexual intercourse.

Smoking

Smoking is an unhealthy habit that affects your general wellbeing in many ways. What most men don’t know is that smoking can contribute to penis shrinkage. Chemicals from cigarette smoking can injure the penile blood vessel. Then, the penis fails to fill blood vessels with blood. They can’t stretch, thus preventing you from having a strong erection. Let’s not forget that smoking is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction as well.

Medications

Some medications, like Adderall, may make your penis shrink. One study found that finasteride, a drug for enlarged prostate, can lead to a shorter penis and reduced sensation. Evidence also shows that dutasteride, also used to treat enlarged prostate, induces some form of sexual dysfunction. More studies are necessary to uncover why some medications cause penile shrinkage.

What are the treatment options?

There is no single treatment option that works for all cases of penile shrinkage. The treatment approach depends on the underlying cause of this condition.

In men whose penile shrinkage occurs due to smoking and weight gain, healthy lifestyle habits are necessary. On the other hand, when medications cause a penile shortage, a medication adjustment can reverse the problem. That’s why it’s important to see the doctor about this issue.

Penile shortage after prostate removal tends to improve within six months or up to a year after the surgery. Prostate removal often impairs erectile function. This happens because the procedure starves the penile tissue of oxygen-rich blood. 

Men who undergo prostate removal may improve erectile function through penile rehabilitation after surgery. Penile rehabilitation is a form of physical therapy whose main purpose is to improve penile function. It revolves around using a vacuum device to encourage blood flow to the penis. It delivers oxygen-rich blood to penile tissues that are “starving.” 

Penile rehabilitation is combined with medications such as Viagra and Cialis to address erectile dysfunction. These drugs work to boost blood flow to the penis and produce strong and durable erections. It’s important to be patient and adhere to the doctor’s recommendations. 

Therefore, it’s normal for penis size to shrink after prostate surgery (radical prostatectomy), but studies show the problem will reverse up to a year to normal size.

If the cause of penile shrinkage is Peyronie’s disease, the treatment will revolve around removing the scar tissue from inside the penis. Ultrasound technology or surgery can remove the scar tissue.

The exact approach depends on the severity of curvature and the quantity of scar tissue to be removed. Although penis shrinkage, in this case, is irreversible, the repair of curvature can alleviate pain and improve sexual function. 

The natural aging process may contribute to the shrinkage of the penis, as seen above. However, aging doesn’t have to end your sex life. Plenty of options are available for you to maintain erectile function as you age. These include:

  • Regular physical activity

  • Limiting alcohol consumption or avoiding entirely 

  • Quitting smoking (nonsmokers should strive not to start smoking at all)

  • Eating a well-balanced, nutritious, and healthful diet

  • Stress management 

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Being proactive about your health, especially cardiovascular health

Why is the maintenance of erectile function important for the management and prevention of penis shrinkage? The answer is simple; erections fill the penis with oxygen-rich blood. This could prevent shrinkage.

When to see a doctor?

Men are reluctant to see a doctor for penis-related concerns. However, consulting a urologist is important. For example, if you need to undergo radical prostatectomy, you may want to discuss penile shortening with the doctor.

The healthcare professional can answer all your questions and address concerns you may have about the procedure and prostate cancer. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be in the procedure. 

Additionally, if you notice the penis has started developing a curvature accompanied by pain and swelling, it’s important to see a doctor. As seen above, these symptoms indicate the development of Peyronie’s disease. A urologist can diagnose the problem and recommend adequate treatment measures.

You should see the doctor when experiencing other problems in the genital area. Sexual problems, pain, and discomfort indicate something is wrong. A Urologist can also help to uncover the root of the problem.

Conclusion

Penis shortage is a real problem. Various causes can shorten the size of the penis. These include prostate surgery, weight gain, smoking, aging, and some medications. As dramatic as it sounds, penis shrinkage is reversible in most cases. A healthy lifestyle is important for a healthy penis.

Sources

  1. Veale D, Miles S, Bramley S, et al. (2015). Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15,521 men. BJU International 115(6):978-986. https://doi.org/10.1111/bju.13010
  2. Everything you need to know about a flaccid penis. Healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/flaccid-penis
  3. Dillon BE, Chama NB, Honig SC. (2008) Penile size and penile enlargement surgery: a review. International Journal of Impotence Research 20, 519-529. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijir.2008.14
  4. Penile curvature (Peyronie’s disease). National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive, and Kidney Diseases niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/penile-curvature-peyronies-disease
  5. Irwig M. S. (2012). Persistent sexual side effects of finasteride: could they be permanent?. The journal of sexual medicine9(11), 2927–2932. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02846.x
  6. Wu, X. J., Zhi, Y., Zheng, J., He, P., Zhou, X. Z., Li, W. B., & Zhou, Z. S. (2014). Dutasteride on benign prostatic hyperplasia: a meta-analysis on randomized clinical trials in 6460 patients. Urology83(3), 539–543. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.urology.2013.10.007
  7. Kadono Y, Machioka K, Nakashima K, et al. (2017) Changes in penile length after radical prostatectomy: investigation of the underlying anatomical mechanism. BJU International 120(2):293-299. https://doi.org/10.1111/bju.13777

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