Peyronie’s disease is a disorder characterized by the growth of fibrous scar tissue in the penis, causing curved, painful erections. Named for Francois Gigot de la Peyronie; the 18th century surgeon to King Louis XV of France, the disorder affects up to 3% of the male population and is most common in men over the age of 40.
A curved erection is not uncommon and isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, some men experience a significant curvature and pain in the penis, which may be a symptom of Peyronie’s disease. This can also lead to discomfort and pain during sex and difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. Men with Peyronie’s disease also typically experience higher levels of stress, anxiety and often depression.
How Is Peyronie’s Disease Caused?
The causes of Peyronie’s disease are not fully understood. It is thought to be caused by injury to the penis, resulting in the rupturing of blood vessels. During the healing process, blood cells can become trapped at the site of the injury, leading to the build-up of scar tissue. When the penis becomes erect, this tissue does not stretch, causing an abnormal curvature of the penis which can be very painful. However, not all men who experience a penis injury develop Peyronie’s disease. And only around half of men diagnosed with Peyronie’s disease require medical treatment to correct the condition.
It is also believed that genetic traits play a role in the development of Peyronie’s disease in individuals. Researchers are also investigating a possible connection between Peyronie’s disease and certain immune system disorders. This research is ongoing.
What Are The Symptoms Of Peyronie’s Disease?
Peyronie’s disease can develop quickly in some men or gradually over time. Patients typically experience an abnormal hardening of the tissue below the skin in certain areas along the shaft of the penis. Common symptoms and signs experienced during an erection may include:
- A significant bend to the penis
- Shortening of the penis
- Difficulty having sex due to pain or erectile dysfunction
How is Peyronie’s Disease Treated?
Although the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease are self-correcting in some men, requiring no medical treatment, other men experience severe curvature of the penis and pain during an erection. Without treatment these men experience a worsening of the disease over time, impairing normal sexual function.
Several treatment methods exist to help reduce the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease:
Your doctor may recommend surgery if the deformity to the
penis is severe or if the pain prevents you from having sex. A doctor will typically not suggest a corrective surgery until the curvature of the penis has stopped increasing and the patient has experienced pain-free erections for at least six months.
Common surgical methods include:
- Nesbit Plication: The most simple and effective treatment for Peyronie’s disease, this procedure shortens the unaffected side of the penis to reduce the bend. It can however, also result in a shortening of the overall length of the penis. Many men are reluctant to undergo the surgery for this reason.
- Tissue Graft: This procedure involves using a tissue graft to lengthen the affected side of the penis to help the erection straighten. The graft may come from the patient’s own body, donated human
or animal tissue or synthetic tissue. This procedure carries a higher risk of erectile dysfunction than Nesbit Plication.
- Penile Implants: Prosthetic Implantation involves placing hollow or semi-rigid cylinders into the penis. These implants may be considered for men with severe conditions of Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction.
While some oral medications exist that claim to treat Peyronie’s disease, none seem to be as effective as surgery. Drugs injected directly into the penis however, do seem to be effective in reducing pain and the curvature of the penis cause by Peyronie’s disease.
Medications used for penile injections include:
- Verapamil: A drug typically used to treat high blood pressure; it also appears to be a factor in the formation of scar tissue associated with Peyronie’s disease.
- Interferon: A protein that prevents the growth of scar tissue in the penis and helps to break it down.
- Collagnase: This enzyme can break down the fibrous scar tissue caused by Peyronie’s disease.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pain or an abnormal curvature of the penis during an erection or while having intercourse. National Male Medical Clinic wants you to be informed about this potentially damaging condition so you can lead a healthy and happy life. Contact NMMC today if you have any questions or concerns.