Peyronie’s Disease FAQs
Peyronie's disease may affect 6% to 10% of men aged 40-70. Are you at risk? Is it treatable? Should you worry? Here's what we know so far.
Peyronie's disease is a condition in which segments of flat scar tissue called Plaques form under the penis' skin. These cause the penis to bend and make an erection painful.
While researchers give us an estimate of how many men may be affected, experts debate that the numbers may actually be higher.
Peyronie's Disease | Quick Facts You Need to Know
What Are the Symptoms of Peyronie's Disease?
The plaque formed on or around the penis is different from the plaque you'll find in arteries. They are also benign and are not cancerous and are not tumors.
Besides observing thickening scar tissue on your penis, there are other symptoms you need to watch out for.
If you relate to the symptoms below, you may have Peyronie's disease.
- bent or curved penis
- lumps on the penis
- painful erections
- soft erections
- shrinkage or shortening of the penis
- having trouble with sex due to the curve in the penis
You may develop these symptoms over a long period of time or may appear quickly. Their severity could also range from mild to extreme.
It's also important to note that there is a difference between congenital penile curvature and Peyronie's disease. Congenital penile curvature is a condition you are born with. It's also not caused by plaque or the build up of scar tissue.
What Causes Peyronie's Disease?
Peyronie's disease may develop after a minor injury to the penis or penile trauma which is most often caused by vigorous sex, or sports and other accidents.
As a penile injury heals, a scar tissue could form around or at a specific location on the penis and develop into plaque. Unfortunately, it is difficult for most men to tell when symptoms begin to develop.
There are other potential researched causes that may lead to or increase your likelihood to develop the disease. These also include certain connective tissue disorders or autoimmune disorders that have been connected with Peyronie's disease.
Other risk factors for Peyronie's disease include:
- frequent vigorous sexual or non-sexual activities which may cause micro-injuries to the penis
- specific connective tissue disorders (Dupuytren's disease, plantar fasciitis, scleroderma)
- autoimmune disorders (systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, Behçet's disease)
- genetics or family history of Peyronie's disease
- old age
- erectile dysfunction
- a history of treatments including surgery for prostate cancer
What Are the Stages of Peyronie's Disease?
It normally develops in two stages – the acute phase and the chronic phase.
- Acute Phase. This phase usually lasts for five to seven months, or up to 18 months in rare cases. The bending or curving of the penis gets worse as the plaques form and it can be painful when the penis gets hard.
- Chronic Phase. This phase is when the plaques stop growing and the penis doesn't bend any further. Erection pain during the acute phase often ends by this time.
The acute phase is when the scar tissue forms under the penis, which causes the bend or change in shape. During this phase, you may experience pain in the penis even without an erection.
In the chronic phase, the progression stops but other complications may arise. Erection pain typically stops, may improve, or go away completely. However in some cases it may still continue.
Complications such as erectile dysfunction may also develop or worsen. It may be difficult getting or maintaining an erection.
What Treatments Are Available?
There is no known cure for Peyronie's disease, but there are treatments available that can help you manage the symptoms.
- Penile injections such as Vermapil, Interferon, and Collagenase.
- Non-surgical treatments such as Shockwave Therapy, Penile Traction Therapy, and vacuum devices.
- Surgical solutions include shortening the unaffected side, lengthening the scar tissue side, or penile implants.
Collagenase, as of now, is the only FDA-approved treatment for Peyronie's disease.
Your urologist can do injection treatments in the doctor's office. Prior to the injection, they will apply a numbing agent to the injection site.
Penile injections and non-surgical treatments are typically administered during the acute phase.
There are currently no oral medication proven to help treat the disease. There are studies that test medicines and whether they can help with pain or reduce the curvature of the penis. However there still aren't enough evidence that prove they can.
What Is the Surgery Success Rate for Peyronie's Disease?
Medical experts widely recommend that you wait until the plaque stabilizes (chronic phase) before considering surgery. It's also done only in patients that experience severe pain, sexual dysfunction, or a severely curved penis. Even then, surgery may or may not help treat the disease.
And non-surgical treatments are still undergoing studies to prove their efficacy.
The Crux of Peyronie's Disease
While it may be an uncomfortable subject, it's important to discuss this with your healthcare provider. If you think you are at risk or are beginning to develop Peyronie's disease, make an appointment with your doctor.
Your doctor may measure your penis to pinpoint the location and amount of the problematic scar tissue. It will also help your doctor determine if your penis has shrunk. You may also take an ultrasound test. Depending on the results, you may need to see a urologist.
A urologist is a doctor that specializes in urinary and sexual disorders.
Until now, there are no guaranteed ways to prevent Peyronie's disease. No known dietary or lifestyle changes were found to help prevent the disease.
And while there is no absolute cure for it, there are useful treatments that can help manage and alleviate some symptoms. Peyronie's disease rarely heals on its own and is typically a permanent condition. However, it is not life threatening.
It does not affect your ability to have children. And with proper counseling, you and your partner may still have an active sex life.
Over 75% of men with Peyronie's disease report stress or depression. Know that your urologist may help you deal with it. A sex therapist may guide you through this new territory with your partner. Finally, a registered therapist could help you deal with the stress of coping with this disease.
It truly is a couple's disease and need not be dealt with alone.
Did this article give you peace of mind or a call to action? Let us know in the comments section below.
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