This is not a story about what might happen to your penis as you age. It’s not about potential risks or Any of These Crazy Penis Conditions that happen when, say, you “accidentally” put your dong in a hay bailer. (For the record, please don’t do that. Ever.) These are things that will, in all likelihood, be happening to your manhood eventually.
We spoke to Brian Steixner, MD, the director of the Institute of Men’s Health for the Jersey Urology Group, and asked for all the uncomfortable details. Brace your young self for a look forward into how the ravages of time will take their toll.
According to Steixner—and verified by the naked guys over 70 shuffling around every health club locker room coast to coast—your scrotum will droop as you get older.
It’s an unavoidable aspect of manly aging thanks to a loss in muscle mass. At its most extreme, you develop what Steixner calls “splash down” syndrome, which is exactly what it sounds like.
When you sit to use the toilet, your scrotum actually hits the water.
There’s hope, however, thanks to an increasingly popular procedure called scrotoplasty. That’s right, you can get a sack-job and spare your septuagenarian self the indignity of the splash down.
There Will Be Shrinkage—Permanent Shrinkage
No, not the out-of-the-pool constriction we all know. This is a persistent, progressive loss of size as you age.
What does that equation look like? Normal cells, once hale and hearty, get replaced by non-elastic fibers called collagen, which just sort of reel in the whole apparatus.
Want to make it worse? Keep building up that beer gut. As your belly gets bigger, the fat pad pushes out and a larger penile percentage gets buried under the skin. Gain weight, loose length. Simple math.
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“For every 30 pounds you shed, you add an effective half-inch in length,” says Steixner.
Going Around the Bend
Into your autumn years, you develop curvature. You’ll dogleg left. You’ll pull right. Thanks to repeated trauma from seemingly harmless things like sports and sexual activity, scar tissue is accumulating along the length of your penis.
And if that isn’t unsettling enough, this scar tissue does not build up symmetrically. Where you were once an arrow, you become a bow.
“Into your 60s and 70s,” says Steixner, “it can get worse and worse. I’ve seen patients (whose penises) look for all appearances like a question mark.”
Mercifully, there’s help for punctuation mark syndrome. Today, injectable medicines help release the accumulated plaques anchoring the scar tissue holding your penis in that curve.
It’s actually a botulinum toxin that does the trick. That’s right, botox injections. Down below. Bite your lip and think happy thoughts.
There are more than 30 million men with ED, and the reason behind it boils down to blood loss.
“Having ED is like having a heart attack of the penis,” explains Steixner. “And preventing it involves pretty much the same advice you give to someone with a heart condition. Eat well, exercise—control those and you should be fine.”
Contending with ED is a billion-dollar market, with treatments from prescription pills and injections to boost blood flow, to penile implants designed to give men a natural erection without medicine.
“If you take care of yourself, however, you can avoid all that,” Steixner says. “I have patients in their 90s who have perfect erections because they’ve taken care of themselves.”
Finally, some encouraging news.
The Big C
Most men are familiar with the very real risks of prostate and testicular cancer, and symptoms of these are something to watch for as you age. But there’s also a risk of skin cancer on the penis itself, especially if you’re a nudist or like to frequent tanning beds au natural.
Also, men who are uncircumcised but remiss in their personal hygiene can create conditions that contribute to skin cancer.
“Stay out of tanning beds, and if you are uncircumcised, keep the hood clean,” urges Steixner.
What’s the worst that can happen? Don’t ask.
Okay, you asked: “In extreme cases, a complete removal of the penis is required,” Steixner says. “It happens. Maybe once a year. I have a patient—”
Stop there, doc. Please. Just stop there. No tanning beds. Stay clean. We got it.
As for the less horrifying, more likely changes we talked about at first, know that as you age, your testosterone levels will decrease. That means slight but consistent loss in size.