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How Does Your Penis Change as You Age?

Like everything in nature, yourpenisgoes through a series of changes over your lifetime. Each phase is controlled mostly by your testosterone levels.

Somewhere between the ages of 9 and 15, your pituitary gland releases hormones that tell your body to start making testosterone.Pubertybegins and brings changes. Your testes (testicles), scrotum, penis, and pubic hair all begin to grow. Testosterone levels peak in your late teens to early 20s.

The amount of testosterone in your body may drop slightly in your late 20s through your 40s, but the change is minimal.

After 40, your total levels may drop only a small amount. But your body slowly begins to make more of a protein called sexhormonebinding globulin (SHBG). This sticks to the testosterone in yourbloodand lowers the amount your body has available to use.

As testosterone levels fall, youll notice other changes to your:

Pubic hair:Like thehairon the rest of your body, it will thin and may turn gray.

Penis size:You may notice that it doesnt seem as large as it used to. The actual size probably hasnt changed at all. But if you have morefaton the pubicbonejust above yourpenis, that area can sag and make it look smaller.

Penis shape:For a small number of men, it may curve with age. This can affect its length, girth, and function. The condition, called Peyronies disease, is caused by physical trauma — usually because the shaft gets bent during sex. As it heals, scar tissue forms along the tunica albuginea — a tough sheath around the spongy tissue that fills withbloodto create an erection. The scarred portion cant expand, causing a curved erection. The condition can often be corrected surgically or treated withmedications.

Testicles:The small organs inside your scrotum mostly exist to makesperm. As your testosterone levels fall, sperm production slows and they shrink.

If you get hormone replacement therapy, your pituitary gland will stop sending signals to your testes to make testosterone, and they will shrink more.

Scrotum:Its job is to manage the temperature of your testes. Its lined with smooth muscle that contracts and relaxes to pull your testicles close to your body to keep them warm or let them drop away and cool off. As you get older, the muscles dont work as well, and your scrotum stays in a more slackened position. Combine that with yourskins natural decline in elasticity, and the sagging gets worse.

If youre over 40, ahydrocelecan also make your scrotum sag. It happens when fluid builds up around one or both testicles. Maybe your body makes too much liquid, or perhaps it cant drain well. Its generally painless. If you notice swelling or feel any discomfort, see your doctor.

Penis function:The nerves in your penis get less sensitive as you age. This can lead to trouble with arousal and having anorgasm. As testosterone levels drop,erectile dysfunctionbecomes more likely. You may lose rigidity, but not necessarily your ability to have intercourse.

Perhaps the most common culprit is the bodys inability to hold blood in the penis. When this happens, you may be able to get an erection but not keep it. Blood flows in, but the aging muscle that surrounds your erectile tissue cant hold it there. The result: lost hardness.

Changes in your sex organs and sexuality are a normal part of aging. Talk to your doctor if age-related changes are affecting your life andrelationships. Effective treatment is available.

Kidshealth.org: Male Reproductive System.

Mayo Clinic: Can testosterone therapy promote youth and vitality? Hydrocele.

Abraham Morgentaler, MD, director and founder, Mens Health Boston; author,The Truth About Men and Sex, Henry Holt and Co., 2013.

Irwin Goldstein, MD, director, sexual medicine, Alvarado Hospital; director, San Diego Sexual Medicine.

University of Rochester: Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (Blood).

Sexual Medicine Society of North America: A Mans Penis Changes with Age.

UpToDate: Peyronies disease: Diagnosis and medical management.

Journal of Electron Microscopy Technique: Ultrastructure of the aging human testis.

Harvard Health Publications: Hormone replacement, the male version.

Urology: Penile sensitivity in men: a composite of recent findings.

Archives of Sexual Behavior: Aging and sexual function in men.

Urologic Nursing: Erectile Dysfunction in the Older Adult Male.

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