Treating Penis Shrinkage Due to Age or Surgery

Size does matter; at least it does to most guys when it comes to the length and/or girth of their penis. The truth is, penis size varies among men and is influenced primarily by ethnic background. Since you can’t change that factor, we will focus on what you can change as well as what works and what doesn’t when it comes to stopping penis shrinkage as you age.

Why does penis shrinkage happen?

Penis shrinkage occurs for several reasons as men age. As men get older, more and more plaque tends to accumulate in the arteries in the penis, which interferes with blood flow. Scar tissue (the protein collagen) also can build up in the fibrous sheathe that surrounds the chambers in the penis involved in erections. Blockages within these chambers can result in smaller erections. Aging is also characterized by muscle atrophy and a decline in testosterone, both of which can be associated with a slight decline in penis size.

How does weight affect penis shrinkage?

In men who are overweight, an accumulation of fat in the lower abdomen can make the penis appear to be smaller because the penile shaft is hidden in abdominal fat. Being overweight or obese also is associated with poor blood flow to the penis, which can contribute to an inability to obtain or maintain rigidity. Another change occurs with aging: around age 40, testicles begin to shrink.

Can prostate surgery affect penis shrinkage?

Radical prostatectomy results in penis shrinkage in about 70 percent of men who have the procedure. The amount of length men can lose after radical prostatectomy varies, although it averages about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) for a flaccid penis and about 1 inch (2.3 cm) when the penis is stretched.

Three months after 31 men had a prostatectomy 71 percent of them experienced a reduction in the length of their penis: the reduction was 0.5 cm in seven men, 1.0 to 2.0 cm in 11 men, and more than 2.0 cm in four men. No change was reported in five men, and four men showed an increase in length of 0.5 to 1.0 cm.

What else can cause penis shrinkage?

Two penile conditions are among the reasons why penis shrinkage happens. One is Peyronies disease, in which an abnormal curvature of the penis can both shorten the penis slightly as well as cause a loss of girth. The other condition is congenital chordee, a rare health issue in which excessive elasticity in a part of the penis causes the organ to bend and be slightly shorter.

Which medications may cause penis shrinkage?

Several medications are associated with penis shrinkage in some men. They include the following:

  • Adderall, typically prescribed for attention deficit/hypersensitivity disorder
  • Antidepressants and antipsychotics, based mainly in anecdotal evidence
  • Dutasteride (Avodart), used to treat an enlarged prostate
  • Finasteride (Proscar), used to treat both an enlarged prostate and hair loss

What lifestyle habits can help prevent penis shrinkage?

You should pay attention to your nighttime erections. Do you wake up hard? Do you experience erections during the night? These are indications that your penis is receiving decent blood flow and is functioning properly. With that good news, there are a few lifestyle habits you can adopt that can help prevent penis shrinkage, whether you are a healthy male or have undergone prostate cancer surgery. If you are in the latter category, also check out the post-surgical tips below.

  • Practice masturbation, which helps promote blood circulation in the penis and thus reduce the risk of penis shrinkage.
  • Engage in more sexual activity, which can help keep your penis from shrinking. The “use it or lose it” adage applies here.
  • Keep your testicles slightly (about 3 degrees F) lower than body temperature to help prevent shrinkage. Use boxers rather than briefs which can help keep temperatures lower.
  • Avoid tight underwear and pants, as they can restrict blood flow and over time may contribute to a smaller penis.
  • Lose those extra pounds if you are overweight or obese. Weight loss can improve blood circulation below the waist and reduce stress on your groin area.
  • Consider using medications that promote blood circulation, such as erectile dysfunction drugs (e.g., Viagra, Cialis), which may help reduce penis shrinkage.
  • Get off the couch and exercise regularly, especially aerobic activities, which promotes blood circulation throughout the body
  • Stay well hydrated by consuming at least 8 to 10 glasses of pure water daily. Dehydration causes your tissues to contract and blood flow to become more sluggish.

What can you do post prostate cancer surgery to prevent penis shrinkage?

After prostate cancer surgery, there are a few extra tips for preventing penis shrinkage.

  • Use a penis pump, a cylindrical device that is placed over the penis while a pump sucks out the air. Use of a penis pump three to five times a week for 20 minutes may help maintain penis length after surgery.
  • Penile rehabilitation, which involves a combination of therapies and efforts to restore and maintain erectile function after prostate surgery. These can include use of erectile dysfunction drugs, penile injections, penis pumps, and suppositories.
  • Skip the pills or creams that claim they can increase penis length. Don’t fall for any commercials or other claims about a product that can make you bigger.

Can stretching improve penis length?

You may experience a slight (about 0.5 inch) increase in penis size if you wear a weight attached to your penis for eight hours daily for six months. However, wearing such a weight also may result in broken blood vessels, torn tissue, and other problems. Therefore, you should consider the pros and cons of stretching your penis daily for six months.

What surgical options can increase penis size?

Penile lengthening surgery is a radical move and requires a significant commitment from the men who undergo it. The procedure involves cutting the ligament that connects the penis to the pelvic bone (thus allowing about an inch more of the penile shaft to become visible outside the body). Post-surgery, men must wear a stretching device or weights on the penis daily for six months. This stretching practice helps prevent the ligament from reattaching.

Many men are not satisfied with the results of this procedure. For example, only 35 percent of 42 men in one study who had their ligament cut were happy with the end result.

A newer option is to partially disconnect the scrotum from the penile shaft. This may reveal more of the shaft, which in turn makes the penis look longer. This outpatient procedure may prove helpful for men whose scrotum attaches high on the penile shaft.

Men who choose to undergo penis lengthening surgery run the risk of various side effects, including nerve damage, infection, erectile dysfunction, and reduced penile sensitivity.

Can penis girth be improved?

Several controversial procedures are available that can increase penile girth. Some involve injecting silicone or fat into the penis or the use of tissue grafts. Other girth-increasing options include injecting hyaluronic acid into the penis, which can be painful and temporary. That is, the penis may increase in girth for about 1.5 inches for up to 18 months. Injection of polymethylmethacrylate-based soft tissue fillers are another alternative to boost penis girth.


Casavantes L et al. Penile girth enhancement with polymethylmethacrylate-based soft tissue fillers. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2016 Sep; 13(9): 1414-22

Irwig MS. Persistent sexual side effects of finasteride: could they be permanent? Journal of Sexual Medicine 2012 Nov; 9(11): 2927-32

Li C-Y et al. Penile suspensory ligament division for penile augmentation: indications and results. European Neurology 2006; 49:729-33

Munding MD et al. Pilot study of changes in stretched penile length 3 months after radical retropubic prostatectomy. Urology 2001 Oct; 58(4): 567-69

Savoie M et al. A prospective study measuring penile length in men treated with radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer. Journal of Urology 2003 Apr; 169(4): 1462-64

Wu XJ et al. Dutasteride on benign prostatic hyperplasia: a meta-analysis on randomized clinical trials in 6460 patients. Urology 2014 Mar; 83(3): 539-43

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It’s common for a man’s penis to appear to shrink when he encounters cold water or cold temperatures (remember George on Seinfeld!), but he also can expect this apparent loss of penis length to be temporary and that his penis will return to normal once the cold factor is gone. But for some men, a loss of penis length has nothing to do with the cold and is the result of other factors.

What Is a Normal Penis Length?

As guys are well aware, penis size varies considerably among men, and much of the reason for differences in penis length is related to a man’s ethnic background. Penis length is a source of pride, and many men believe they have a small penis when in reality they fall into what is considered by experts to be a normal size.

According to the Department of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College, research indicates that 95 percent of white men are within the following ranges:

  • Average length of a flaccid penis: 3.4 to 3.7 inches (8.6 to 9.3 cm)
  • Average length of an erect penis: 5.1 to 5.7 inches (12.9 to 14.5 cm)
  • Average girth of an erect penis: 3.5 to 3.9 inches (8.8 to 10.0 cm)

Men who are not satisfied with the length and/or girth of their penis may try different methods to make their penis bigger. One reason a man may not be happy with the size of his penis may be due to his having lost penile length, but why could this happen?

Related: What is the Average Penis Size?

Reasons for Loss of Penis Length

Although there are several reasons why a man can experience a reduction in penis length, the main reason is radical prostatectomy. About 70 percent of men who undergo removal of their prostate can expect to experience some loss of penis length. The amount of length a man may lose after prostatectomy can vary, as studies show.

For example, in one study, 126 men who underwent prostatectomy had their penis length recorded both before and then three times after surgery. The men continued to lose some penis length for at least 12 months after the prostatectomy, with the average loss being 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) when the penis was flaccid and about 1 inches (2.3 cm) when the penis was stretched.

Another study reported similar results. Three months after having a prostatectomy, 22 of the 31 men (71%) in the study experienced a decrease in the length of their penis: seven men experienced a 0.5 cm reduction, 11 had a 1.0 to 2.0 cm loss, and four showed a loss of more than 2.0 cm. Five men had no change in penis length after surgery, while four men actually showed an increase in penis length by 0.5 to 1.0 cm.

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Other reasons a man may lose some penis length include the following:

  • Weight gain. A loss of penis length associated with weight gain may be purely a visual effect: because there is more fat in the pubic area, including abdominal fat that exerts weight and pressure on the scrotum, the penis may appear to be shorter even though it physically is not. However, being overweight or obese also increases the risk of poor blood flow to the penis and cause men to have difficulty achieving sufficient rigidity.
  • Peyronies disease: Men who have Peyronies disease, which is an abnormal curvature of the penis, may experience a shortening of the penis for two reasons. One, the disease is characterized by scars or plaque in the penis, which can cause a loss of penis length (these supplements have been shown to reduce scarring and plaque). Two, surgery to help correct a curved penis also may result in a slight loss of length. Peyronies disease also may cause a loss of penis girth.
  • Aging: Men may lose a slight amount of penis length as they age. This loss is associated with atrophy related to a decline in testosterone levels and reduced sexual activity and/or a reduction in the frequency of erections. So it’s important in this regard to have as many erections as possible as you age, as the less frequent your erections the more your penis size gradually contracts.
  • Congenital Chordee: Also known as congenital penile curvature, this is a relatively uncommon condition in which there is a curve in the erect penis. Although this may sound like Peyronies disease, congenital chordee is not the same for two reasons: one, it is congenital (present at birth, although it may not become apparent until the teenage years or later); and two, it is caused by excessive elasticity in one area of the penis which causes the penis to bend. In Peyronies disease, scars or plaque are present in the penis, which causes the curvature. Surgery to correct congenital chordee also may cause some additional penis shortening.
  • Genetics: In rare cases, men may be born with an abnormal response to testosterone or a chromosomal disorder that causes a shorter penis.
  • Medications: Some medications may cause a loss in penis size.
  • Loss of Nighttime Erections: As you age, you don’t experience as many nighttime erections for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are related to declining testosterone, but it can also be a function of poor blood flow and lifestyle factors. Nighttime erections are important to stretch the penis as you sleep keeping it in shape for action.

Related: How Your Penis Exercises While You Sleep

Can Penis Length Be Increased?

The answer to this question is yes, no, and maybe, depending on which method you choose. Here are your current options.

  • Penis pumps. If you don’t mind a temporary fix, then a penis pump may be for you. A penis pump has a cylinder that fits over the penis and a pump that sucks out the air, resulting in blood rushing into the organ. Leaving the pump on for more than 30 minutes can cause tissue damage, so this method can be dangerous. Men who use a penis pump three to five times a week for about 20 minutes at a time may experience a slight increase in length. This benefit goes away, however, within a few days of stopping this routine. The good news is that a penis pump can help maintain penis length in men who have undergone a prostatectomy (prostate surgery) or those whose nocturnal erections are declining in number.
  • Penile lengthening surgery. This surgical procedure involves severing the ligament that connects the penis to the pelvic bone. This allows about an inch or more of the penile shaft inside the body to become visible, thus making the penis look longer. One major drawback of this surgical procedure is that men must wear some sort of stretching device or weights on the penis every day for about six months to prevent the ligament from reattaching.
  • Penile widening procedures. Men who want their penis to be larger in girth can have silicone, tissue grafts, or fat implanted into their organ. These are controversial procedures.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections. Numerous studies have been done on the use of hyaluronic acid, a substance produced naturally by the body, injected into the penis to improve girth (but not length). The procedure is said to be painful but effective. In one study, the men experienced an increase of about 1.5 inches, which they maintained for 18 months.

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