Every now and again, Lifehacker asks a medical professional to explain the weird things that our bodies do. Or could do. Or might do
In this way, your thirst for weird bodily function knowledge is sated – without besmirching your search history. Let’s get started.
Illustration by Chelsea Beck/GMG.
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.
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.
“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 ageing 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.
“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.