Does Penis Size Change After Prostate Surgery?

The Truth About Penis Size and Prostate Surgery

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The Prostate Gland. Image: © ADAM

Question: Does Penis Size Change After Prostate Surgery?

My friend says that my penis will be smaller if I have prostate surgery. My surgeon didn't mention this potential side effect of surgery during our conversations. Is this true?


The bad news is that your friend was telling you the truth. The good news is that it was a very small piece of the truth, and it may not even apply to your personal situation.


One specific type of prostate surgery, the prostatectomy, can cause a decrease in the size of the penis.  While it is true that the size of your penis can be altered by prostate cancer surgery, there are many types of prostate surgery and many do not cause any change in size. 

Prostatectomy May Cause a Change in Penis Size

The one procedure that is known to have a risk of decreasing the length of the penis is the radical prostatectomy, a surgery that removes the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue as a cancer treatment.  The prostatectomy is typically not performed to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy or other non-cancerous prostate issues, it is a treatment for cancer. 

Remember, there are many types of prostate surgery performed both to treat cancer and to treat an enlargement of the prostate gland that is causing other types of symptoms. The risks of those surgeries vary widely from procedure to procedure.

 Your surgeon will be the best source of information on your individual level of risk of complications after prostate surgery, including a change in penis size, incontinence and/or the inability to obtain an erection. 

How Much Penis Size May Change After Prostatectomy

Some men report a decrease in the length of the penis, while others report changes in girth (thickness), or both.

The change is present when the penis is erect or flaccid.  Research is ongoing to determine if the change is temporary or permanent. 

Most prostate surgery patients report no notable change in their penis size after surgery, but one study showed that almost one in five men had a 15% or greater decrease in one or more penis measurements after surgery.  

For some, the change is barely noticeable, for others, the change seems rather significant.  Many men would argue that any change is too much, but the type of surgery known to cause changes in penis size are done to treat prostate cancer, so the seriousness of the condition typically outweighs the risks of a reduction in penis size. 

If you are having prostate surgery, it is important to know that the type of prostatectomy had no bearing on the change in penis size in this research. In terms of penis size, nerve-sparing surgeries had the same results as other procedures.

Risk of a Change in Penis Size Versus Risk of No Surgery

While a decrease in penis size is an alarming potential side effect of surgery, it is important to remember that prostate surgery is a life-saving surgery for many.

The treatment of cancer is the foremost objective, and the potential change in penis size should not outweigh the life-extending benefits of the surgery.  Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer go on to live many years because they chose to treat their cancer.

A frank discussion with a surgeon may go a long way in explaining your individual risk of serious and minor complications as well how successful the surgery will be in terms treatment, cure, lifespan after the procedure, and what can be expected in the weeks, months and years following surgery.   Once all of the appropriate information has been provided, an educated decision can be made after weighing the pros and cons of the procedure.  


A Prospective Study Measuring Penile Length In Men Treated With Radical Prostatectomy For Prostate Cancer.  The Journal of Urology. April 2003.

Reduced Penile Size and Treatment Regret in Men With Recurrent Prostate Cancer After Surgery, Radiotherapy Plus Androgen Deprivation, or Radiotherapy Alone. The Journal of Urology. January 2013.  Accessed July 2016.​

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