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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aging can affect the way a man’s penis performs, too:
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.