Like the rest of the body, your penis changes as you get older in appearance, function, and potential for health problems. Most of these changes are normal and don’t require medical attention. In many cases, the penis changes because of conditions affecting the rest of your body, such as reduced circulation, hormonal shifts, changes in the nature of your skin, and other factors.
Testosterone Levels Gradually Fall
Age leaves its mark on every part of your body, including your penis. Starting in your 40s, your testicles produce less testosterone, the hormone that helped your penis grow during puberty and fuels your sex drive. The decline in testosterone, along with other things related to aging, can change the size, shape, and function of this all-important organ.
It Turns Gray
Well your pubic hair does, anyway. Just like the hair on your head, pigment cells inside each pubic hair follicle produce a chemical called melanin that gives your hair its color — blond, brown, or black. As you age, pigment cells die, melanin production slows, and your pubic hair turns gray or white. Whether the hair down there goes gray at age 35 or 65 depends a lot on the genes you inherited from your parents.
Some older men worry that their penis is shrinking, but this can be an optical illusion. If a man has gained abdominal weight, the extra fat can hide part of the shaft, making the penis look shorter than it actually is.
It Might Start To Curve
Peyronie’s disease, a condition marked by a distinct bend in the penis, becomes more likely with age. In some cases, the curve becomes so great that intercourse is impossible. Men in this situation should see their sexologist for treatment.
The Testicles Shrink
For the same reason your penis shrinks with age — reduced testosterone — your testicles also get smaller. Injury, less blood flow, and anabolic steroid (synthetic testosterone) use can also be responsible for the size reduction. A smaller testicle can sometimes be a symptom of testicular cancer, too. If you have other symptoms, such as swelling, a lump, or a feeling of heaviness in a testicle, check in with your doctor.
The Scrotum Sags
Your skin naturally becomes less elastic as you get older. Just as the skin of your face and neck wrinkles and sags, so can the skin that covers your testicles. If the sight of a low-hanging scrotum bothers you too much to wear a bathing suit or causes pain when it rubs against your thigh.
Penis Less Sensitive
Your penis naturally loses sensation as you age. So it may take more time, and more stimulation, for you to get aroused and reach orgasm. If the problem interferes with your sex life, don’t rub harder — you could irritate the sensitive skin covering this organ. Instead, talk to your sexologist doctor about possible treatments.
It Loses Its Spring
The slightest breeze might have produced an erection when you were young. Now that you’re older, low hormone levels, less blood circulation, and nerve damage can make getting it up harder to accomplish. Erectile dysfunction becomes more of a problem the older you get. By age 70, about 70% of men will have trouble getting an erection.
Penis Changes Color
Fatty deposits can build up inside the walls of your blood vessels as you get older and limit the amount of blood that flows through them. Blood is what can give the tip of a penis a pink color. As blood flow slows, the penis head turns a lighter shade.
Functional Changes in The Penis
Aging can affect the way a man’s penis performs, too:
Men may need more time.With their testosterone levels falling, older men often need more stimulation to become sexually aroused, get an erection, and reach orgasm. They may also need more time before they can have sex again. It can be frustrating, but it’s normal. Keep in mind that female partners may need more time, too.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) may develop.ED – being unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for sex – is quite common in aging men, especially if they have developed atherosclerosis in penile blood vessels. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments for ED, including pills and vacuum devices. If you are having trouble with erections, be sure to see your doctor. ED can be a sign of other medical conditions, like heart disease or diabetes, so it’s important to have it checked out.
Urinary problems may occur.Older men are likely to have an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When this occurs, the prostate gland grows inward. The urethra – the tube that carries semen and urine out of the body – runs right through this gland. When prostate tissue enlarges, it can squeeze the urethra, making it more difficult for men to urinate. Men with urinary problems are encouraged to see their doctors as well.
What Can Men Do?
While none of us can turn back the clock, there are a number of ways men can keep the penis healthy as they get older.