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Penile atrophy: why is my penis shrinking?

Do you know what the average size for a penis is? And when can it be considered that a man is showing signs for penile atrophy? Today, we are answering these questions in this blog post.

There are a lot of studies which estimate the average penis size, including a recent investigation, called “Average-Size Erect Penis: Fiction, Fact, and the Need for Counseling”, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy and authored by Bruce M. King, from the Clemson University’s Psychology Department, located in South Carolina (USA).

King’s research evaluated 21 published studies about the penile length, and came to the conclusion that the world average size for the male genitalia is around 12,9 centimeters when erect.

The size of a flaccid penis has no correlation to its erect length, considering that, while flaccid, the size varies according to the amount of blood present inside the genital organ at that moment. That is why in a colder environment, the penile dimensions tend to be retracted.

However, that does not mean your penis is shrinking. Penile atrophy is related to some conditions — but it can be solved.

Why is my penis shrinking?

Generally speaking, a condition called fibrosis is responsible for penile atrophy.

Penile fibrosis can appear as the male patient grows older, or when he presents comorbidities, such as the ones below:

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is related to the increase of the amount of sugars in the bloodstream. When this rate is uncontrolled, it damages the proper function of the blood vessels and nervous tissue, consequently resulting in erectile dysfunction.


Obesity alters the functioning of various hormones, also affecting the natural nocturnal erections. This condition also impairs the blood flowing into the corpus cavernosum, making the patient predisposed to the appearance of fibrotic tissue in the penis.

Independent to the emergence of fibrosis, the increased fat tissue above the pelvic and genital area can also make the penis functionally smaller.

Radical Prostatectomy or Prostate Surgeries

After being submitted to a radical prostatectomy (the complete removal of the prostate gland, performed to treat cancer), the male patient will also experience less erections during the night. The lesser blood flow and consequent lack of oxygen can facilitate the appearance of fibrotic tissue.

Cardiovascular Conditions 

Cardiovascular conditions may also be responsible for the diminished penis size, due to the lower amount of blood flowing into the penile structure.

Peyronie’s Disease

When a patient acquires Peyronie’s disease, presents an erectile dysfunction or suffers a penile fracture (which generates scar tissue at the area), there is an increased chance of developing fibrosis in the penis.

All of these conditions tend to favor the appearance of penile fibrosis, to a lesser or greater degree — also depending on the amount of fibrotic tissue the patient has already developed throughout his life.

Penile Atrophy and Penile Prosthesis

Most patients who need a penile prosthesis implant also arrive at the urologist’s clinic with some degree of penile atrophy.

However, it is necessary to comprehend that the prosthesis implant by itself does not increase the size of the penis. The penile prosthesis’s main objective is to provide the required rigidity, so the male patient can adequately resume his sexual activities.

Regarding penile length, it is imperative to analyze the patient’s anatomy to check if there is, indeed, any level of atrophy. If confirmed, it would be necessary to discuss the penile length expansion procedure.

This expansion occurs up to the limit of the nerves and blood vessels — the neurovascular bundle. It can’t be assured that the penis will gain back all the lost length and girth, but it is possible to make it bigger than the current diminished size.

The nerves and blood vessels can naturally be reduced in size as men grow older. If the patient has already been submitted to a penile surgery in the past, the expansion rate can also be affected.

How to expand the size of a diminished penis?

What is the possible limit for the expansion of the penile length and girth?

There is a neurovascular bundle located on the upper part of the penis, stretching up to the glans. The size of this bundle determines the length limit which the surgeon will be able to arrive at, during the procedure.

The penile tissue below the nerves and blood vessels can be expanded, accompanying the length of the neurovascular bundle and the urethra. This expansion of the tissues has the objective to treat penile atrophies, as well as thinning and/or curvatures.

It is not possible to know the size of the neurovascular bundle and the urethra beforehand — these aspects of the patient’s anatomy can only be observed during the surgical procedure. A surgeon acting according to the Brazilian Urology Society’s guidelines can never promise a specific final size for his patient.

It is important for the patient to understand this restriction, so he can avoid frustrations and surgeons who promise specific results before the surgery itself.

The surgeon responsible for the procedure should, fundamentally, expand the tissues up to the possible limit of length. Should he fail to reach this limit, it would not be possible to recover the lost size of the diminished penis.

If you still hold any questions regarding penile atrophy, watch the following video, which shows more details about the condition.

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Dr.Paulo Egydio

Dr.Paulo Egydio

Médico PhD em Urologia pela USP, CRM 67482-SP, RQE 19514, Autor dos Princípios Geométricos (conhecido como “Técnica de Egydio”), além de outros artigos e livros cientifícos na área. Professor convidado para ministrar aulas e cirurgias ao vido, em congressos no Brasil e Exterior.

Dr. Paulo Egydio é dedicado ao tratamento da curvatura
peniana e do implante de prótese.

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