Age Takes Its Toll, Even Below the Belt
An inexplicable, universal truth to men's locker rooms: The older the man is, the more he enjoys strutting around naked.
This isn't meant to body-shame. We're not prudes here.
But for many younger guys, their first glimpse of the body that's waiting for them several decades in the future comes during one of these encounters. For instance, you might happen upon the sight of a naked older guy standing with one leg propped up on a bench while blow-drying his balls and perineum as he casually chats with one of his golf buddies. (True story.)
Here, then, we reveal a few of the gags that time plays on men's genitalia as they age. One day, maybe you'll muster up the courage of these locker-room-strutting men of a certain age who just can't be bothered by self-consciousness.
Things start to sag—and sag some more
The tale of blow-drying-balls-guy wasn't hyperbole. As a man ages, gravity pulls down his scrotum just as it causes his face and the muscles on the rest of his body to droop.
OK, it's not gravity exactly. Skin loses its elasticity as you lose the natural collagen and elastin in the dermis layer. These are vital proteins that give youthful skin its ability to bounce back and give younger you that fresh-faced (and fresh-balled) look. When collagen and elastin production naturally decreases with age, the skin loses its ability to counter gravity, resulting in wrinkles and sagging. Environmental factors such as exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and cigarette smoking can hasten the process.
Other things shrink
With or without cold water, shrinkage is a real thing as you age. The skin of the penis is elastic and stretchy, but over the years, that elasticity fades. Factor in reduced blood flow and lower testosterone levels and you could lose a centimeter or two in penis length as you age—with cardiovascular issues such as atherosclerosis making shrinkage more serious.
This effect is often compounded when aging guys put on extra fat in the gut region hanging over the penis, making it appear shorter because there's less of it exposed. This is just another good reason to keep your body in healthy shape as you get older.
It all goes gray
Just like the surprise of spotting a few gray hairs in your beard or mane, get ready for your pubic hair to turn gray. But did you know that your penis will also lose some of its color?
As men age and circulation worsens due to the years of buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, the penis and especially the penis head may lose its youthful glow. It's generally nothing to worry about; just make sure there are no lumps or sores, because another problem with aging male genitalia is...
But as you get even older, the risk of penile cancer goes up. While penis cancer is rare, it's important to note that exposure to UV rays in a tanning bed, poor hygiene for uncircumcised men and HPV (human papillomavirus) exposure are all risk factors.
Loss of sensitivity
After men pass age 40 or so, they naturally lose about 1 percent of testosterone production per year. That loss of testosterone comes hand in hand with a decrease in nerve tissue and blood flow—so your penis won't be as sensitive as it once was.
However, you can get a jump on mitigating these effects by making lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, watching your blood pressure and exercising regularly.
You may develop a curve
Over the years, accidents in and out of the sack can take a toll on the penis. Many men develop scar tissue—your doctor may call it plaque—in their penis that causes a condition called Peyronie's disease, resulting in the penis curving upward, downward or to one side when erect. Physical trauma, genetics and connective tissue disorders are possible causes of the disease.
If the curvature is pronounced—generally greater than 30 degrees—corrective treatments include injection or surgery. Or if the curve isn't completely throwing your life for a curve, you might find that switching to Peyronie's-friendly sex positions does the trick.
Let's face it: A man's genitalia is going to age just like the rest of him.
But perhaps by being aware of these inevitable changes—and understanding how we have some degree of control over a few of them—we're at least not in for a surprise.