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.
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.
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.