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Effects of Aging on the Male Reproductive System

By Irvin H. Hirsch, MD, Thomas Jefferson University

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It is not clear whether aging itself or the disorders associated with aging cause the gradual changes that occur in men's sexual functioning. The frequency, duration, and rigidity of erections gradually decline as men age (see Erectile Dysfunction (ED)). Levels of the male sex hormone (testosterone) tend to decrease, reducing sex drive (libido). Blood flow to the penis decreases. Other changes include

  • Decrease in sensitivity of the penis

  • Decrease in volume of fluid released during ejaculation

  • Reduced forewarning of ejaculation

  • Orgasm without ejaculation

  • After orgasm. penis becomes limp (detumescent) more quickly

  • After orgasm, longer period before an erection can occur (refractory period)

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* This is the Consumer Version. *