Is it Normal for My Penis to Shrink?
For men experiencing penis shrinkage, it can create real problems. It is often associated with erectile dysfunction, and it can also lead to issues like difficulty urinating. Understandably, these issues can also affect men’s self-esteem.
However, penis shrinkage is a common issue men experience, especially as they age. Read on for six reasons you may experience penis shrinkage.
But first, let’s start with a question we often hear: “Do I have an average-sized penis?” Of course, everyone is different, and it is normal to fall outside of these ranges, but research from BJU International, one of the world's leading urology journals, found average penis size falls within the following ranges:
- The average length of a flaccid penis: about 3.6 inches
- The average length of a flaccid, stretched penis: about 5.3 inches
- The average length of an erect penis: about 5.2 inches
- The average circumference of a flaccid penis: about 3.7 inches
- The average circumference of an erect penis: about 4.6 inches
6 reasons your penis may shrink
As you get older, it is not uncommon for your penis and testicles to get slightly smaller. A build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries can decrease blood flow to the penis, which can cause the muscle cells in the erectile tubes inside your penis to become weaker.
Blood flow is essential for these erectile tubes to produce an erection. Less blood flow will lead to smaller and fewer firm erections. The saying “use it or lose it” is related to the decreased length. When you stop having regular erections or have fewer erections, the elastic tissue that stretches the penis from the flaccid state into the erect state can cause the penis to lose its elasticity. If the penis is not elastic, it won’t stretch when you get an erection, and you will notice you lost length.
While the actual penis will not shrink because of obesity, a penis can start to look smaller if you gain excess weight, especially around your abdomen.
Another condition that can occur with excess weight gain is buried penis, which occurs when the penis is trapped underneath the skin of the lower abdomen or scrotum. Men with this condition report having trouble with urination (such as spraying with urination or dribbling). Some men with this condition also have trouble with penetration during sexual intercourse.
Not only is smoking bad for your overall health and can lead to things like cancer, but it can also cause erectile dysfunction.
To have an erection, your penis needs good blood flow, which can be affected by the chemicals in cigarettes. Because smoking can cause fewer spontaneous and nightly erections that are necessary to stretch the penis, it can cause your penis to experience shrinkage.
Uncontrolled medical conditions
Health conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
When you have high blood pressure, your arteries and vessels can become clogged, reducing blood flow that’s essential for erections. It is also common for men with diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes, to experience erectile dysfunction. This condition can stem from damaged nerves and blood vessels caused by poor long-term blood sugar control.
Peyronie’s disease presents as a curvature in the penis, which varies in severity from a slight, unbothersome curvature to a severe curvature that impairs or prevents sexual intercourse. This condition may be associated with erectile dysfunction.
The curvature of the penis can cause shrinkage or a shortening of the penis. Additionally, in some extreme cases, surgery is required, and your doctor may recommend removing part of the skin to help with the curvature, which can cause some shrinkage.
For prostate cancers that are confined to the prostate gland, management options include surgery called a prostatectomy. Up to 70 percent of men experience mild to moderate shortening of their penis after a prostatectomy because erectile dysfunction occurs after a prostatectomy. While erectile dysfunction after a prostatectomy can be temporary, even temporary erectile dysfunction can cause shrinkage of penile tissue. The shortening can be anywhere from ½ to ¾ of an inch when the penis is stretched while flaccid.
How can I prevent penis shrinkage?
While you can’t always control certain factors that cause penis shrinkage, you can make some lifestyle changes to help reduce the chances of developing erectile dysfunction leading to shrinkage, including:
- Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, take advantage of Ochsner’s free smoking cessation program, available to Louisiana and Mississippi residents 18 years and older.
- Remain physically active to help manage excess weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Eat a nutritious diet and avoid excess alcohol, which can make it difficult to get erections.
- Maintain erectile function. It is important to fill the penis with oxygen-rich blood. If you experience erectile dysfunction, talk with your provider to see what treatment options are available.
If you have concerns over erectile dysfunction, schedule an appointment with your urologist.