What is Peyronie’s disease?
A disorder of the penis where scar tissue (plaque) builds up inside the elastic connective tissue membrane called the tunica albuginea is termed as Peyronie’s disease. The plaque buildup occurs commonly on the top or bottom of the penis. With the progression of plaque deposition, the penis becomes curved and can lead to painful erections.
The curvature of the penis will make sex painful or even impossible. Peyronie’s disease starts with inflammation and later progresses to a hard scar. Peyronie’s disease affects 1 to 23% of men of the age group 40-70 years.
The precise cause of Peyronie’s disease is not known. Some of the causes believed to play a role in causing this disorder include:
- Injury to the penis
- Repeated or chronic penile injuries
- Autoimmune diseases
The risk factors for developing Peyronie’s disease include:
- Vigorous nonsexual or sexual activities that lead to microscopic injuries to the penis
- Certain autoimmune and connective tissue disorders
- A family history of this condition
The common symptoms and signs include:
- Hard lumps (plaques) in the penis
- Pain during sex or an erection
- Curve in the penis with or without an erection
- Shortening of the penis
- Erectile dysfunction
The diagnosis involves a physical examination by the physician. Your doctor will measure the size of the penis for identifying the location and extent of scar tissue and see if the penis has shortened. The doctor or a urologist will be able to feel the lumps in the penis.
Imaging tests to identify the plaque include:
- Ultrasound of the penis
- An x-ray of the penis
In case you do not have severe Peyronie’s disease, your doctor can prefer a watchful observation. In the case of severe Peyronie’s disease, medication, medical therapies or surgical approaches will be recommended.
Medication: To decrease the penile curvature, inflammation and plaque size, oral medication are prescribed.
Medical therapies: Radiation therapy or high-intensity ultrasound will be directed at the plaque site.
To address the curvature, mechanical traction and vacuum devices focussing on bending or stretching the penis can be employed.
Surgery: Surgery is done in chronic cases to remove the plaques and correct the curvature of the penis. It can include:
- Grafting: Here the plaque is removed, and a fresh patch of skin, vein or an animal-origin material is attached.
- Plication: A bit of tissue opposite to the plaque is pinched off to help in straightening the penis.
- Penile implants: These are considered when erectile dysfunction is present with this condition. These devices aid in having an erection.
Research has not shown ways to prevent Peyronie’s disease.
The complications can include:
- Inability to have sex
- Erectile dysfunction
- Anxiety or stress concerning, sexual abilities
If the curvature or pain of your penis is preventing you from having sex or causing stress, visit your doctor and discuss in detail the possible corrective measures. If you are depressed or having symptoms of anxiety, do visit a psychiatrist.
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- Hatzimouratidis K, et al. EAU Guidelines on Penile Curvature. European Association of European Urology. 2012; 62:543.
- What is Peyronie’s Disease? Urologyhealth.Org. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/peyronies-disease. Accessed 27 Jul. 16.
- Peyronie’s Disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/peyronies-disease/Pages/facts.aspx#sec7. Accessed 27 Jul. 16.