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26 August 2010

The incredible disappearing penis

Ever heard of koro? It's rare mental condition that involves the irrational fear that one’s external genitals are shrinking or retracting, and it mostly affects men.

Chances are you’ve never heard of koro. It’s a rather rare mental condition that involves the irrational fear that one’s external genitals are shrinking or retracting. Koro predominantly afflicts men, who literally worry that their penis is disappearing (in the much less common case of women, the supposedly shrinking body parts are the vulva and nipples).

For individuals, episodes of koro typically involve a sudden onset of intense anxiety that can last for several hours to as long as two days. These episodes can be chronic and recurrent. Other than the fear of penile shrinkage, retraction and disappearance, symptoms include:

  • a perception that the shape and muscle tone of the penis is changing;
  • fear of sterility and loss of sexual power; and
  • fear of madness, spirit possession and impending death.

  • As their testosterone levels decrease naturally with age, men’s sexual function tends to decline as well, leading to lower sperm quality and volume as well as a decline in the speed, quality and maintenance of erections.
  • Weight gain common in older men can result in an apparent decrease in penis size as abdominal fat may partially “bury” the shaft of the penis.
  • Many men also experience a slight but noticeable actual decrease in the size of their erect penis as they get older, both in terms of length and girth. This may be the result of blockages in the penile arteries as well as a steady build-up of relatively inelastic collagen in the fibrous sheath that surrounds the erection chambers .
  • Weakened bladder muscles, frequently accompanied by an enlarged prostate gland, tend to result in a gradual decline in urinary function and a weakening urine stream.
  • A slow loss of pubic hair.
  • Reduced blood flow with age causes the head of the penis to gradually loose its purplish colour.
  • Testicles tend to shrink from around the age of 40.
  • The penis tends to become less sensitive and can become curved with age.

 
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