Disuse Penile Atrophy

(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)

Disuse penile atrophy is a legit medical condition.

Think about it…

If a broken arm placed in a cast atrophies due to disuse, why wouldn’t a penis do the same thing?

The answer is, it does. And it will.


This happens because the stretchy connective tissue called elastin actually shrinks in size when a penis remains flaccid all the time.

Smooth muscle cells shrink as well, eventually leading to losses in length and in girth.

According to a Finish study involving 1,000 men, having sex less than once a week….

Increases erectile dysfunction risk by a massive 50 percent.

Other studies have found a direct link between sexual activity and serum testosterone levels.

One study went so far as to have one group of men copulate in a sex club, while another group of men observed the sex.

And the lucky men doing the deed saw testosterone levels spike three times higher than the observers.

If you think about it…

This combo of frequent erections and higher testosterone levels in sexually active men is the flip-side of disuse.

Not only are active men sending nutrient rich blood and oxygen into their members…

They’re also sending anabolic (pro-growth) hormones to their members as well.

This probably explains why research done by Dr. David Weeks out of  Royal Edinburgh Hospital found that…

Regular sexual activity makes men and women look five to seven years younger, compared to bedroom slackers.

This is likely due to the fact…

That the frequent humpers are drinking up more youthful hormones and having a hell of a lot more fun too.

Young Men and Penile Atrophy

But what about young dudes?

A downright scary study out of Indiana University found that between 2000 and 2018…

Sexual inactivity (disuse) spiked from 19 percent to 31 percent in young men aged 18 to 24 (source).

The coincides directly with the birth of the internet and easy access to wildly graphic pornography.

Coincidence? I think not.

So here’s the way I see things…

Sex makes you look younger, feel better, it improves erectile fitness and elevates youthful hormones.

It also prevents disuse penile atrophy.

So mount up men, you’ll be glad you did.

Now here’s David with more…

Disuse Penile Atrophy Part 2:

As men, we spend a lot of our time thinking about sex. 

From the moment puberty enters the picture, we are either avoiding erection, hiding them, or enjoying them in one way or another. 

Alas, nothing can last forever. From marriage and money to work and fatherhood, our sex lives sometimes end up taking a back seat to everything else. 

But in this article, we’ll talk about the importance of making sure regular sex remains a priority for you and your partner. 

We’ll also discuss some of the unpleasant side effects of going too long without an erection – including a nasty condition known as penile atrophy. 

Your Penis: A Refresher Course

As you may remember from health class, your penis is made up of five basic main components. 

There’s your urethra, which releases urine and semen, your foreskin, which you may or may not still have in totality, and your glans, the head of the penis. 

On the inside, you have two types of tissues: the corpus cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum. 

While we don’t often think about them, it is these two strangely-named networks of material that actually allow our penises to grow. 

The corpus cavernosa is made up of two columns that run along both sides of your penis. 

They each boast hundreds of little vessels, which cause your penis to harden when they fill with blood. 

The corpus spongiosum, on the other hand, runs along the underside of your penis. 

Like the corpus cavernosa, it too becomes engorged with blood when you get an erection. 

Both are supported by a web of muscles, which help hold the penis in place. 

How Age Can Hinder Sexual Activity

The corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum are what the medical community calls “soft tissues.” 

Not only are they designed to stretch when filled with oxygen-rich blood, but this process needs to be done regularly in order to keep the tissues malleable and elastic. 

As one Indonesian medical study states, prolonged abstinence from sexual arousal can actually cause these tissues to harden and eventually die.

Luckily, throughout our formative sexual years, erections are plentiful. 

We normally wake up with what we call “morning wood” and will get a hard-on the slightest hint of sexual activity or suggestion. 

However, this changes as we get older. Not only do erections become less frequent, but they can sometimes become harder to achieve (and maintain) as well. 

This is due to a lot of reasons, including the following: 

Lowered Testosterone

Our testosterone levels peak in our late teens and early 20s. After that, most of us experience a gradual falloff until the end of our lives. 

This has a negative impact on our sex drive, muscle mass, and sexual function. So as we gain weight and lose libido, sex can become a less and less frequent activity. 

Increased Stress

Another hormone that can come into play for our sex lives is cortisol. This is what your body releases when under stress. 

Not only does it constrict the blood vessels of the penis, but it lowers our testosterone levels even further. 

Indeed, several major studies have concluded that prolonged stress can negatively impact sexual function in both men and women.


Many men experience plaque buildup in their arteries as they age. This can stem from simple diet and lack of exercise or from more overt causes like obesity and smoking. 

Either way, such blockages can affect blood flow to the penis, causing what we refer to as ED. Left untreated, this can make it nearly impossible to get a satisfactory erection.  

This plaque can also contribute to atrophy of the penis.

How Abstinence Leads to Disuse Atrophy

As we age, the combination of stress, atherosclerosis, and lowered testosterone begin to really take their toll. 

If erectile dysfunction does begin to take root, it’s likely that we will start to have sex less and less often. 

This is to be expected, as there’s a certain amount of shame associated with nothing being able to perform consistently, even within the context of a loving relationship. 

However, in depriving the corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum of blood, we begin to cause damage to the vessels inside. 

In response, the tissues will begin to shrink and harden, lessening the size, length, and girth of our erections. 

If this damage is not reversed or stopped, it can lead to penile atrophy, permanent hardening of the tissues and full-blown impotence. 

Disuse Penile Atrophy Cure? Regular Sex!

One study conducted over 25 years concluded that the average couple only has sex once a week. 

However, as these couples get older, that rate may decline, particularly if any of the above conditions are making it difficult for the man to achieve an erection (source). 

In the case of some older couples, sex simply disappears from their lives completely. 

This amount of disuse is simply inviting penile atrophy into the equation. 

In the media and even in the healthcare industry, we are constantly exposed to the idea that we should expect our sexual function to decline when we get older. 

However, the truth is that our simply accepting weaker and more infrequent hard-ons is the cause of the problem, not the result. 

Instead, it is incumbent upon us to give our penis the regular exercise it needs. 

And while weight loss, testosterone enhancement, stress reduction, and regular weight training are necessary parts of the equation, nothing can make up for a happy, healthy, and energetic sex life.  

About the Author Mark

Article edited by Mark Wilson. Mark currently owns 5 sites in the men's sexual health niche and has published more than 5,000 articles and blog posts on dozens of websites all over the world wide web.

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