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What Causes Penis Shrinkage?

Overview

The length of your penis can decrease by up to an inch or so for various reasons. Usually, changes to penis size are smaller than an inch, however, and may be closer to 1/2 an inch or less. A slightly shorter penis won’t affect your ability to have an active, satisfying sex life.

Read on to learn more about causes for penis shrinkage and how to manage this symptom.

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Causes

Causes

The typical causes of loss of length in your penis include:

Aging

As you get older, your penis and testicles may get slightly smaller. One reason is the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries reducing blood flow to your penis. This can cause withering of the muscle cells in the spongy tubes of erectile tissue inside your penis. The erectile tissue becomes engorged with blood to produce erections.

Over time, scarring from repeated small injuries to your penis during sex or sports activities can cause scar tissue to build up. This buildup occurs in the formerly supple and elastic sheath that surrounds the spongy erectile tissues in your penis. That could reduce overall size and limit the size of erections.

Obesity

If you gain weight, particularly around your lower abdomen, your penis may start to look shorter. That’s because the thick pad of fat starts to envelop the shaft of your penis. When you look down at it, your penis may seem to have gotten smaller. In extremely obese men, fat can enclose most of the penis.

Prostate surgery

Up to 70 percent of men experience mild to moderate shortening of their penis after having a cancerous prostate gland removed. This procedure is called radical prostatectomy.

Experts aren’t sure why the penis shortens after prostatectomy. One possible cause is abnormal muscle contractions in a man’s groin that pull the penis farther into their body.

Difficulty getting erections after this surgery starves the erectile tissue of oxygen, which shrinks muscle cells in the spongy erectile tissue. Less stretchy scar tissue forms around the erectile tissue.

If you experience shortening after prostate surgery, the usual range is 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, as measured when the penis is stretched out while flaccid, or not erect. Some men experience no shortening or only a small amount. Others experience more shortening than average.

Peyronie’s disease

In Peyronie’s disease, the penis develops an extreme curvature that makes intercourse painful or impossible. Peyronie’s can reduce the length and girth of your penis. Surgery to remove the scar tissue that causes Peyronie’s can also reduce the size of the penis.

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Seek help

When to see a doctor

If you are scheduled for radical prostatectomy, discuss penile shortening with your doctor so they can answer your questions and reassure you about any concerns you have.

If you begin to develop curvature of your penis with pain and swelling, it may be a sign of Peyronie’s disease. See a urologist for this. This doctor specializes in problems of the urinary tract.

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Treatment

Treatment

Erectile function can be maintained with aging by:

  • remaining physically active
  • eating a nutritious diet
  • not smoking
  • avoiding the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol

Maintaining erectile function is important because erections fill the penis with oxygen-rich blood, which could prevent shortening.

If your penis shortens after prostate removal, you should be patient and wait. In many cases, the shortening will reverse within 6 to 12 months.

After surgery, your doctor might suggest a treatment called penile rehabilitation. It means taking drugs for erectile dysfunction, like sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis), and using a vacuum device to boost blood flow to your penis.

Most men have trouble after surgery getting erections, which starves the tissues in the penis of oxygen-rich blood. Nourishing those sensitive tissues with fresh blood may prevent tissue loss. Not all studies show penile rehabilitation really works, but you may want to try.

For Peyronie’s disease, treatments focus on reducing or removing scar tissue under the surface of the penis with medication, surgery, ultrasound, and other steps. There is one medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Peyronie’s called collagenase (Xiaflex).

Penis shrinkage from Peyronie’s can’t be reversed. Your main concern will be reducing curvature to restore your sex life.

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Outlook

Outlook

If you experience penis shortening after prostate surgery, know that it may reverse in time. For most men, penis shrinkage won’t affect their ability to have enjoyable sexual experiences. If the shrinkage is caused by Peyronie’s disease, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan.

Read more: What’s the average penis size? »

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