Are penises actually shrinking?

It sounds like a joke just waiting for a punchline. In reality, it's a valid concern that some scientists have.

If it really is happening, that seems like a worst nightmare for many. But the good news is that it's actually somewhat in our control, and there are things we can do to prevent it.

Read on to get the lowdown on this "down there" phenomenon.

So, Penises Are Getting Smaller?

banana with lipstick marks

Yep. Penises are getting smaller, it seems.

Shanna H. Swan, MD, wrote about it in her book, titled Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. In the book, Dr. Swan explains that high levels of phthalates in a pregnant woman's body can lower testosterone levels, which can in turn disturb penis development in baby boys. It actually has a name—phthalate syndrome—and is associated with smaller penis sizes.

Why Is This Happening?

eggplant wrapped in measuring tape

Dubbed "The Everywhere Chemical, phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are man-made chemicals that are frequently used in products such as soaps, detergents, household goods, toys, food packaging, nail polish, and other personal care products. And may not be so good for us.

Phthalates have been linked to breast cancer, low IQ, obesity, type II diabetes, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral issues, and—drumroll, please—"altered reproductive development and male fertility issues" according to The Guardian.

This is some real bad news for people, for phthalates, and for penises.

What Can We Do About Penile Shrinkage?

fruits and veggies with measuring tape

The penile fiasco is reason enough to avoid phthalates—and with the ever-increasing list of their destructiveness, it's good to do what we can to steer clear.

Avoiding phthalates altogether is nearly impossible. But with a little bit of research and effort, it is possible to at least reduce our exposure.

Start looking around at what plastic products you interact with every day, find out if these products are likely to contain phthalates, and see if there are ways to eliminate them from your home. One really simple way to make this change, which Dr. Swan suggests, is to swap out plastic containers in your kitchen for glass, metal, or ceramic ones. Another easy way to identify phthalates is to look for the number 3 inside the universal recycling symbol that can be found molded into the plastic on the bottom of the product.

See what you can do about encouraging firmer policies on restricting the use of phthalates in manufacturing because lord knows the FDA isn't looking out for us. 

If we can manage to lessen our daily interactions with phthalates, it'll be much better for us, for the planet, and for the future penises of the world.

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