Peyronies Disease | Urban Reproductive Health
Peyronie’s Disease is where the penis builds up scar tissue and changes in size, girth, length, or physical appearance. It makes the penis curve and can cause pain or prevent sexual intercourse. There are both non-surgical and surgical methods that can help improve the size, length, or appearance of your penis and it’s important to know what those options are. This disease isn’t cancerous and it doesn’t affect other parts of your body.
Peyronie’s Disease is when the penis gets a build-up of excessive scar tissues and starts to bend, lose length, or lose girth. As the scar tissue is forming, you might feel pain or the plaque starting to build-up. Depending on where the scar tissue is located, your penis might bend to the side, upwards, or downwards. Some men who have this disease don’t have an actual bend and instead have an indentation or an hourglass appearance. For most men, the scarring happens at the top of the penis, which causes it to have a curve going upwards. On the other hand, scarring on the side will make it curve to that side, and scarring on the bottom will make it curve downwards. It’s important to know that the disease only changes the shape and size of the penis, but doesn’t usually interfere with ejaculation or urination.
There are two stages with Peyronie’s Disease, which are listed below.
The acute phase lasts from 6-12 months and is the beginning of the disease. During this time, the scar tissue starts to form underneath the penis skin and starts causing penile curvature or other appearance changes. Most people have pain during this phase and you could experience discomfort with both a soft penis and an erection.
The chronic phase is when the scarring stops growing and the curvature of the penis no longer changes. Most people won’t have anymore pain during this stage, but some will find that the pain is still there. Once the disease hits the chronic stage, you might have issues with getting an erection and maintining it.
What's the Difference Between Peyronie's Disease and Penile Curvature?
The main difference between Peyronie’s Disease is that one develops later in life and the other is usually there from birth. If the penile curvature is there from birth, it’s called congenital curvature or chordee. Not only is penile curvature not caused by scar tissue, but it also usually doesn’t change over time. With that said, though, it might not be obvious until after puberty because that’s when more erections occur. It’s also very rare and only about 1% of men have it without Peyronie’s Disease.
The other biggest difference is that penile curvature isn’t usually painful or obvious until an erection occurs, while Peyronie’s Disease usually comes with pain and is apparent whether the man has an erection or not. If you have a curve or bend in your penis and you’re not sure if you have either of these things, make an appointment with your doctor! Check out the PeniMaster penis extender here.
While these won’t guarantee that you’ll develop the disease, there are a few risk factors that can increase the chances. These are listed below and have a bit of information included with each.
- Genetics– You could have a higher chance of developing the disease if you have a close relative that has it.
- Age– You have a higher chance of developing the disease as you get older and it usually affects around 10%-15% of middle-aged men.
- Prostate Cancer– You may be at risk if you’ve had surgery for prostate cancer.
- Connective Tissue Disorders– Those with these types of disorders could be at higher risk of developing Peyronie’s Disease.
- Autoimmune Disorders– These disorders, like lupus, could make you more likely to develop the disease.
- Erectile Dysfunction– Those that have erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes could have four or five times the chance of developing the disease.
Q: How common is this disease?
A: An estimated 6% to 10% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 have this disease. This number could be higher because many men won’t talk about it and go undiagnosed.
Q: Does the disease cause pain?
A: Yes, it can cause pain. This usually happens in the acute stage, but can be permanent during erections.
Q: Will it affect the size of the penis?
A: Yes, in some cases. Treatments can help gain some of the lengths.
Q: Can Peyronie’s Disease cause erectile dysfunction?
A: It can cause erectile dysfunction by obstructing the valves that trap the blood needed to get and keep an erection.
Q: Is the disease contagious?
A: Peyronie’s Disease is not contagious.
Q: Can I still have sex if I have the disease?
A: Yes, but it might be painful and hard to do.
Q: Does this disease cause urinary tract issues?
A: No, so make sure you go to your doctor if you’re having urinary issues.
Q: Can I die from Peyronie’s Disease?
A: No because it only affects the size and shape of the penis.
Q: Is the disease genetic?
A: Many experts believe that some cases of the disease are genetic and there might be a higher chance of developing it if a family member has it.
Q: Can certain foods make my symptoms worse?
A: There is no evidence that suggests that certain foods or drinks make symptoms worse.
Q: How long does the disease last?
A: It’s usually a permanent condition, but that can sometimes change over time. There are also procedures that can help improve the size, length, and appearance of the penis.
Q: Can this disease cause cancer?
A: No Peyronie’s Disease does not cause cancer.
Q: Can Peyronie’s Disease lead to infertility?
A: Since the disease is a build-up of plaque under the skin of the penis, it makes the penis bend but doesn’t actually cause infertility.
Q: Does this disease cause blood in the urine?
A: No, so make sure you get checked out if this is happening.
Symptoms & Causes
The exact cause of Peyronie’s Disease isn’t always easy to figure out and some professionals believe that it happens due to an injury or unnatural bending during sexual intercourse. The issue here is that almost 80% of men don’t actually remember a big event like this happening and it’s likely that the disease developed from injuries that weren’t noticed during intercourse.
Some also believe that there’s a genetic component to the disease and you might be at higher risk if you have a close family member that has been diagnosed. Not all men develop the disease after a sex-related injury, so the actual causes aren’t completely known.
As we said before, Peyronie’s Disease could also be caused by autoimmune disorders or connective tissue disorders. If you have either of these types of disorders and notice changes in your penis, it’s a good idea to set up an appointment with your doctor.
In addition to genetics and possible injury, there are some health-related issues that could cause the disease. Those are listed below.
- Using any type of tobacco products.
- Having high blood sugar.
- Having an autoimmune or connective tissue disorder.
- Trauma in the pelvic region.
- The issue with your body being able to heal wounds.
Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptom of this disease is noticing a curvature in the penis. In addition, some men might be able to actually feel the scar tissue underneath the skin. The symptoms can start out slow and build in intensity as time goes on. Most people will notice a decrease in pain as time goes on and the disease progresses, but some will always experience pain. If swelling and pain is an issue, you can take something like ibuprofen to help. Those that have a curvature of the penis that’s bent at a 30-degree angle, or more, might find that they have issues during sex.
Some other symptoms that could mean you have this disease are listed below and you should keep an eye on any that develop. If you have any of these, you should make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your sexual health and see what treatment options are available to you.
- There’s a bend or curve in the penis.
- Your erections are softer than normal.
- The penile bend makes sex difficult.
- You find lumps on your penis.
- You notice that your penis is shorter.
- Your erections are painful or uncomfortable.
- You notice that you’ve lost some penile girth.
- You notice that your penis has an indentation or hourglass shape.
Diagnosis & Tests
After getting your complete health history, you’re doctor will start asking you questions and give you an exam. In addition to the questions asked below, they’ll also ask if you’ve had any type of injury to that area in the recent past. After the questions are done, they’ll have you strip down, so they can exam the penis. Not only will they look at it, but they’ll also feel it to see how much scar tissue is there. Sometimes, this needs to be done when you have an erection and they’ll give you an injection to temporarily achieve this. The only test they might order is an ultrasound to see how much plaque is there, where it’s built-up, and how the blood flows. Once they see these things, they’ll be able to figure out the best treatment options.
It’s important to answer any questions your doctor has and you want to be completely truthful. Not only will this develop a trusting relationship, but your doctor will have a better understanding of what’s going on. Some of the questions you might be asked are listed below.
- How long has there been a curve in your penis?
- Has your penis gotten shorter and how much length was lost?
- Are there any issues or difficulties having sexual intercourse?
- Which way is the bend in your penis and about how many degrees is the bend?
- Do you have pain during sex?
- Do you have any pain now?
- Does your partner experience any pain during intercourse?
- Do you have erectile dysfunction and how strong are your erections?
- Do you have any relatives that have been diagnosed with Peyronie’s disease or Dupuytren’s contracture?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- Do you have any other medical issues, such as an autoimmune disorder, connective tissue disorder, or diabetes?
Mangement & Treatment
One of the most important things about this disease is figuring out how to manage and treat it. The good thing is that there are many things you can do and, sometimes, the disease will clear up on its own. The exact treatment plan will depend on several factors, so it’s important to talk with your doctor.
The good news for those that have no pain and a very small curve or bend is that there’s a good chance that you won’t need any treatment at all and could even go away on its own. For those with mild curvature or pain, there are a few treatment options. For these cases, most patients do well with medications or injections. The severe cases, though, might require more aggressive treatments, such as surgery. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor and find out what your best treatment options are. You might have to try more than one treatment option to get the best results, but your doctor will be able to answer any questions you have and get you started on the right path.
Peyronie’s Disease Cure
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Peyronie’s Disease, but there are plenty of treatment options to help reduce the severity of the symptoms and help you keep a healthy sex life. Most cases will be mild cases and can clear up on their own as time goes on. You’ll need to talk with your doctor to find out how severe your case is and which treatment options are the best for your particular situation.
Options Besides Medication or Surgery
One of the most common options that don’t include surgery or medications is called stretch therapy. Not only can this help stretch out the penis, but it can also make the bend or curve less severe. The way it works is by helping the scar tissue turn back into normal tissue, which can help lessen the severity. To get the best results, you’ll need to wear the stretching device every day for a few months. This might seem like a nuisance, but many men wear the device while they’re sleeping and take it off once they get up. There haven’t been any long-term side effects and doctors find that stretch therapy does better than devices that use vacuum suction. You’ll need to purchase the device from an independent retailer, but some insurance companies will reimburse you.
The good news is that there are some medications that can help reduce your symptoms and make things a little easier.
- Pain medications like Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation.
- L-arginine for improving blood flow.
- Potassium amino-benzoate (Potaba) helps reduce plaque.
- Tadalafil (Cialis®) to increase blood flow.
- Colchicine to reduce or stop swelling.
- Pentoxifylline for improving blood flow.
- Verapamil injections to help with penile curvature and pain.
- Collagenase injections (Xiaflex®) to help break down scar tissue.
- Interferon injections to help control scarring and swelling.
For the most part, those that deal with Peyronie’s Disease are urologists that have received extra training or have experience in the fields of sexual medicine, andrology, or genital reconstruction. Regardless of how severe your case is, you should make an appointment with one of these specialists and find out as much as you can. If you have a severe case, though, you might be referred to other urologists that have more experience with the disease.
After visiting and starting your treatment, you’ll need to go back regularly so the doctor can track both the disease and your progress. This is even true if the disease resolves itself because the doctor will want to make sure it doesn’t develop again. The exact appointment schedule will be determined by your doctor and they’ll let you know when you’ll need to come back.
For the most part, there are three different surgical options for Peyronie’s Disease. Each of these does a different thing and can help improve the length, girth, and appearance of your penis. You and your doctor can make a plan and decide which option is best for your situation.
With this procedure, the surgeon will put stitches onto the longer side of the penis to try and pull the penis towards the middle. The operation lasts around one hour and you’ll receive both local anesthesia and sedation. You don’t have to stay in the hospital and you can start working the day after surgery. You’ll be able to have sex after five weeks and it’s important to remember that this procedure doesn’t help with indentations or hourglass shapes.
With grafting, the surgeon will make an incision on the shorter side of the penis and put either a vein or a piece of a pig’s small intestine that matches the size and length of the longer side. This operation will last around three or four hours and you’ll have either general anesthesia or an epidural. You can return to work after two or three days and you can resume sex after eight weeks. If a vein is used, you’ll need to have, and deal with, a second incision.
The final surgical option for Peyronie’s Disease is the placement of a Prothesis. This is done to help to straighten the penis and have strong erections. The operation will take around three or four hours and you’ll be given either general anesthesia or an epidural. You’ll need to stay overnight and you’ll be able to return to work after two or three weeks. You can start having sex between five to six weeks and it’s important to remember that this particular surgery can have a higher rate of infection or rejection.
Side Effects & Complications from Surgery
Every surgery has the chance of side effects or complications, but it doesn’t happen often. With that said, though, there are some things you could experience. We’ve listed these below and you should talk with your doctor if you notice any of them.
- Sensation changes
- Change in penis length or girth
- Development of a lump or knot
- Worse erections than before the surgery
- Possible implant infection
- Possible implant rejection
- Possible device failure or malfunction
Other Procedure Options
Overall, the only other procedure option that’s commonly done is shockwave therapy. During this, low-intensity and targeted electroshock waves are applied to the areas that have plaque. This is done to help reduce the amount of pain you have, but this can also be done by using over-the-counter medications. Keep in mind, there’s no research saying this method works and most insurance companies won’t pay for it, which makes it quite expensive.
As a man gets older, their erections become less strong and can be easily injured during sexual intercourse. On the other hand, there isn’t really any way to prevent the disease for those that developed the condition due to something like genetics or a pre-existing condition. As you get older, there are a few options to decrease the chances of getting the disease.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you achieve strong erections, such as Viagra®, Levitra®, or Cialis®.
- You should make sure you’re using a high-quality lubricate when having sexual intercourse.
- You should use your hand to reinsert if the penis pops out during sexual intercourse.
- You should use caution if doing a position where your partner is on top during sex.
- You should avoid movements that make you jerk or bend during sex.
Prognosis & Outlook
It’s important to remember that some things you can experience with this disease are pain and possible difficulties during sexual intercourse. It’s also important to remember that mild cases usually clear up on their own and you won’t have to worry about the rest of your body being harmed. In addition, the disease doesn’t cause cancer or infertility, so many of the common treatment options can help improve your life.
Regardless of whether you’ve had the disease for years or if you’ve just been diagnosed, you’ll need to be patient. It’s not something that will get better overnight and you’ll need to give the treatments time to help. While it can be frustrating to have to wait and continue being in pain, the treatments should start working before too long. No matter what your concerns or questions are, bring them up to your doctor at your next visit.
Living with Peyronie’s Disease
The great news is that it’s totally possible to live with Peyronie’s Disease. It might take some getting used to, but you should be able to still have a fulfilling and happy life. Some things you can do to make living with the disease easier are talked about below.
A staggering 75% of men that have been diagnosed with this disease have admitted to having feelings of stress or depression. The good thing is that there are things you can do to reduce your stress levels, as well as plenty of treatment options for depression. If you need specialized support, you can talk to a certified sexual therapist. They are trained to handle these situations and you might find that it gives you a feeling of relief. If you think you’ll need medications, you’ll want to work with a psychiatrist to find the right medications for your needs. In addition, you can talk to a counselor if you feel like you need to talk but don’t want to go to a sex therapist.
Possible Relationship Issues
There’s also the possibility of having issues with your relationships. It’s important to be as open and honest as possible with your partner and let them know how you’re feeling. You should also ask what’s on their mind because they might be having issues with the situation as well. If possible, you should also try to include your spouse in your appointments, so they can have a better understanding of what exactly is going on.
In addition, the curve or bent that comes with the disease can cause pain for both you and your partner, which can lead to issues for both parties. If your spouse has any questions or concerns about the disease, they should make a list to take to your next doctor’s appointment. It might also be a good idea to get into couples therapy to work through your issues together.
Other Possible Effects
Besides having issues in your romantic relationship, Peyronie’s Disease can have negative effects in other areas of your life. For starters, the appearance and loss of girth or length can cause problems, like body image issues or depression. In addition, it could cause issues with other family members or friends due to negative mental health issues. These feelings can get into every aspect of your life and make things quite hard, but there are resources and treatment options out there to help you live the best life you possibly can.
When To See a Doctor
It can be difficult to know when exactly you need to see a doctor, so use the signs below to help you. If you notice that any of these are new or worsening, it’s time to see the doctor.
- Shorter penis length
- Bend or curve in the penis
- Lumps or knots
- Painful erections
- Soft erections
- Difficulty during sex resulting from the curve or bend
- Girth loss, indent, or hourglass appearance
- Trouble urinating
- External bleeding
- Consistent pain that doesn’t go away
Questions for Your Doctor
Before finishing up, it’s important to talk about what questions you should ask your doctor. You can ask other questions besides these, but it should give you a rough idea of what should be asked.
- What should I do if the bend worsens?
- Do you think this will go away on its own or will it require treatment?
- How often should I come back for a check-up?
- What treatments do you think will help my situation?
- How can I talk about the disease with my partner?
- Do you know of any counselors or support groups?
- Do you know of any sex therapists?
Even though Peyronie’s Disease can be painful or uncomfortable, it isn’t deadly and doesn’t cause cancer. The best way to get a treatment plan that works for you is to talk with your doctor. Be completely honest with them and follow the recommendations they give. Remember, if you notice any new or worsening symptoms, you should make an appointment right away.
Alessandra is the mother of two daughters, ages 13 and 23. Natural medicine and holistic living have been the focus of her life for many years. She has been studying with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach and is a big part of the wellness community. She is a big fan of yoga, practices meditation, and is presently nutrition and healthy lifestyle mentor for adults. Alessandra is a full-time contributor at https://urbanreproductivehealth.org and published author on Amazon.
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