Disuse Atrophy is a medical term used to describe the condition of loss of normal healthy tissue and worsening function after a prolonged period of lack of use. This condition applies to all organs. This is especially an issue with ED because the longer the disuse the greater the chance that proactive measures will not work, or treatments can take much longer to show positive results. When atrophy of penile tissue occurs then the elastin and smooth muscle can shrink, creating at best a loss of length and girth and at worst lack of response to ED treatments. (What is ED?)
For those who have had a radical prostatectomy, a surgical procedure used to treat prostrate cancer, an actual shrinkage of the penis can occur. Urethral reduction and the associated scarring in the region of surgery can compound or cause erectile dysfunction. Rehabilitation of the organ is necessary to prevent disuse atrophy.
Other conditions can cause penile shrinkage, like:
- Peyronie’s Disease
- Cycling, Horseback Riding, Saddle Sports
- Stress or Nerves
- Exposure to Cold
- Over-strenuous Exercise
- Obesity (can cause ‘apparent loss’)
There are also indications that the ‘memory’ portions of the brain need at least occasional stimulus to act at optimum levels. The hypothalamus is thought to be the area of the brain that regulates thirst, hunger, sex and other functions. As we age the neuroplasticity (or malleability) of the brain, that helps us compensate for certain disorders in the body, begins to decrease. The central nervous system and peripheral nervous system control the functions of the body and like a car or even computer require some degree of maintenance.
Aging can also cause men to experience a loss of sexual function. 50% of men begin to experience ED by the age of 40 and this can increase by up to 10% each decade. Research studies (and just plain common sense) dictates that the more your utilize a function the longer you can maintain and regulate its performance. Frequent and vigorous sexual activity is the best cure for disuse atrophy; to perform, some men need a ‘kick-start’ and there are a variety of effective treatments available to prevent this progressing condition. To get the best response from treatment, and avoid degradation or disuse atrophy, it’s best to stop the procrastination and act soon.