What Your Penis Will Look Like When You Get Older

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Illustration by Chelsea Beck/GMG.

Hello and welcome to Burning Questions, the column where we ask doctors to explain the weird things that your body does, or could do, or that you are afraid your body might do, but you probably don’t want in your search history. Let’s get started.

We’ve got two different questions today, from readers who want to know what will happen to their penis (or, I guess, to penises in general) as the years go by. First up:

Why do penises, both flaccid and erect, seem to curve as a man ages? I’ve noticed this happening to mine, and I’m wondering what I can do to prevent further wandering of my member. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable, and I don’t want it to worsen and affect my sex life.

“Having a curved penis is common and can change with age, but it can also be a sign of a more serious disease,” says Dr. Matthew Mintz, who practices internal medicine and who teaches at the George Washington University School of Medicine.

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Let’s talk about the normal scenario first. Dr. Mintz explains that when your penis becomes erect, it’s because two tubes called the corpora cavernosa fill up with blood. Just like breasts can be different sizes on the left and the right, so can these two tubes. That results in a curve that may not be noticeable when you’re flaccid but will be obvious when you’re hard.

The skin on your penis also plays a role in how curved it looks. As you get older and your skin gets looser, the curve can be more pronounced.

Great! Everything’s fine. Except for that part about a severe disease. What if it’s that? Because it could be that.

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“This sounds like you may be developing Peyronie’s disease,” says Dr. Michael Reitano, physician in residence at men’s health service Roman. In Peyronie’s disease, scar tissue develops that can pull on one side of the penis, causing it to curve. This can happen after an injury, but can also just happen with no obvious cause. You may be able to feel the scar tissue as a band or lump.

The bad news is, Peyronie’s tends to get worse over time. The good news is that it’s treatable. If the curve isn’t bothering you, there’s no need to do anything, but if it gets so bad that it’s painful or that sex becomes difficult, there are medications and surgery that can help.

While we’re talking about aging penises, it seems like a good time to answer this question too:

Here’s my weird question: do older men get liver spots on their penises?

“The skin of the penis is like skin everywhere else on the body. We age, it ages,” says Dr. Reitano. But liver spots, or solar lentigo if you want to sound fancy, are a reaction to sunlight exposure over the years. So we tend to get them on exposed skin like our hands.

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“It is unlikely that there will be significant sun exposure to cause a liver spot on the penis,” says Dr. Mintz, but hey, I don’t know what you do with your penis. If you’re worried about liver spots, keep it covered.


Got another oddball inquiry for our experts? Email me at elizabeth.skwarecki@lifehacker.com, and make sure to put BURNING QUESTIONS in the subject. We won’t use your name in the column, unless you specifically say you want us to. And if you want to stay completely anonymous, I’m also taking questions at bethskw.sarahah.com. Answers are not guaranteed, so please don’t use Burning Questions in place of going to an actual doctor.

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