Bad news, men… 'winter penis' might be real after all, doctors say

Bad news, men… ‘winter penis’ is real after all, doctors say

  • Experts say penises can appear smaller in winter in response to cold weather
  • Body preserves energy by reducing blood flow to extremities including penis
  • While it can affect most men it does not cause long term changes

Less-endowed men have often blamed the cold for the unfortunate size of their manhood.

But, it might not be an excuse after all.

For doctors say ‘winter penis’ — as it has been nicknamed — really does happen.

And the shrinkage is all down to the body’s natural reaction to the cold weather, which has blighted Britain this week and seen temperatures crash to as low as -6C.

The body preserves energy by reducing blood flow to its extremities including ears, hands, toes and penis. This can result in shrinkage of the penis, experts have warned 

According to Oliver Kayes, consultant urologist and honorary senior lecturer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, colder temperatures will reduce blood flow to the extremities such as the toes, nose and penis. 

This is why they are more vulnerable to frostbite in extreme weather conditions.   

This reduction in flow may result in vasoconstriction – when muscles around blood vessels tighten – which may also draw the testicles higher up into the scrotum.

However, ‘this is neither a condition nor an illness. It is a normal physiological response to the cold,’ he said. 

Keeping the area warm, for instance with thermal leggings, gloves or a balaclava, ensures the tissue is not at risk of injury. 

Experts insist, however, that it is only temporary and does not cause any permanent damage.

Oliver Kayes, consultant urological surgeon and honorary lecturer at the University of Leeds, said the ‘winter penis’ is ultimately neither a condition nor an illness.  

Instead, he added, it’s just a ‘normal physiological response to the cold’. 

When the mercury plummets, the body attempts to preserve its core internal temperature and protect internal organs.

It does this by purposely narrowing vessels that supply blood to the skin, to prevent cooler blood flowing back into the body, where it could cause the temperature around vital organs to drop. 

But, the consequence of vasoconstriction, as it is medically known as, can be for tissue — especially in the extremities — to get smaller. 

And the penis, as well as testicles, are no exception to the reaction. 

While the effects this has on the size of the penis are disputed, sexual health experts have previously claimed that it could shrink by up to 50 per cent in length.  

Mr Kayes told MailOnline that ‘colder temperatures will reduce blood flow to the extremities such as the toes, nose and penis’.

He said that this explained ‘why they are more vulnerable to frostbite in extreme weather conditions’.

‘In general terms, if a man decided to stand naked in sub-zero temperatures – the natural response is for the area to vasoconstrict and the dartos muscle (scrotum) to tighten, so pulling the penis and testis inwards for general protection,’ he added. 

‘It is a natural reflex. Obviously, the effects would be reversed if he managed to get an erection or sat in a warm bath for five minutes.’ 

Experts have previously warned that decreased blood flow to the genitals caused by ‘winter penis’ may create friction with underwear leading to physical discomfort. 

‘In my practice, I have seen many problems that do affect blood flow to the penis,’ Mr Kayes said. 

‘Mild or moderate reduction leads to shrinkage and erectile difficulties, seen commonly in men with cardiovascular disease. 

‘More severe blood flow issues following trauma, infection, vasculitis, extreme cold and sometimes illicit drug injection has led to ischaemia, gangrene and autoamputation or tissue loss,’ he added.

‘So called “Winter Penis” is a long way from these major life-changing problems that can affect some men.’

To counter the response, Mr Kayes offers three pieces of advice: ‘Keep warm, stay active and have sex and don’t worry.’

For years, men the world over want to know if their manhood measures up compared to others.

So, a team of researchers in 2015 sought to find out the global average for penis size.

Their work revealed the mean length of an erect penis is 5.2 inches (13.12 cm), scientists found.

Meanwhile, the average length of a flaccid penis is 3.6 inches (9.16 cm) and 5.2 inches (13.24 cm) when flaccid but stretched.

And when it comes to girth, the average erect circumference was 4.6 inches (11.66 cm) and 3.7 inches (9.31 cm) when flaccid.

The research, carried out by King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, also found there was a small correlation between the erect length of a penis and a man’s height.

The team looked at 17 studies of 15,521 men worldwide who underwent penis size measurements by health professionals using a standard procedure.

The paper was published in the British Journal of Urology International.

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