Peyronies Disease: What is it? Symptoms & Treatments Explained
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!
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?
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