What is Peyronie’s disease

By on June 20, 2013

François Gigot de Peyronie is widely credited for first describing penile curvature, now known as Peyronie’s disease which causes the penis to become curved when it’s erect.

Men’s penises vary in shape and size and it’s common for the penis to curve slightly to the left or right when it’s erect. However, if you have a more significant bend in your penis, which may cause discomfort like pain, difficulty having sex, or the difficulty to get or maintain an erection, it can be a cause of Peyronie’s disease or bent penis as it commonly called. No need to worry though, it’s important to remember that a degree of upward angulation of the erect penis is quite normal and not a feature of this disease.

What are the symptoms?

This disorder can cause a lump, the development of fibrous scar tissue within the shaft of the penis, an abnormal angulation where the erect penis has an “hourglass” appearance, with a tight, narrow band around the shaft.  That flat plate of scar tissue develops on the top or bottom side of the penis inside a thick membrane called the tunica albuginea, which envelopes the erectile tissues.

Symptoms may develop slowly or appear overnight. In severe cases, the hardened plaque reduces flexibility, causing pain when erect. In many cases, the pain decreases over time, but the bend in the penis may remain a problem, making sexual intercourse difficult. Hence it‘s common for men afflicted with Peyronie’s disease to exhibit depression or withdrawal from their sexual partners, that’s why it can also cause stress and anxiety.

The natural history of Peyronie is variable. Progression can occur over several years. If the fibrosis becomes calcified, the angulation becomes quite stable. Since spontaneous resolution is unlikely in most men, most investigators recommend intervention if and when the condition impacts significantly upon sexual function.

Doctors can usually diagnose this curved penis disorder based on a physical examination. The plaque can be felt when the penis is limp. Full evaluation, however, may require examination during erection to determine the severity of the deformity.


What causes Peyronie’s disease?

The cause of Peyronie’s disease (or crooked penis as some may call it), remains unknown, however there are several possibilities:

  • Genetics – In only very rare case it can be inherited genetically (if your father of brother has Peyronie’s disease; you have an increased risk to get it too), but these cases are extremely rare.
  • Injury – In many instances it is thought that this disease results from the rupturing of small blood vessels inside the penis, which can happen due to an injury during sex, athletic activity or as a result of an accident. Blood cells and other cells are trapped at the site of the injury that leads to the build up of scar tissue.
  • Circularity disorders – Research has shown that hardening of the arteries is a symptom what some men suffering from Peyronie’s disease have so it might actually be also one of the root causes.
  • Diabetes – Again this is something what many men with the disease have so diabetes is also related to Peyronie’s disease.
  • Age – Age-related changes in tissues that can cause them to be easily injured and less likely to heal.

How to treat Peyronie’s disease?

Many men don’t need treatment as they don’t have pain or the condition doesn’t affect their sexual function. Various non-surgical treatments are available, including oral medicines and injections. However, there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. Your doctor may suggest surgery if the deformity of your penis is severe or prevents you from having sex. Surgery usually isn’t recommended until the curvature of your penis stops increasing, and your erections have been pain-free for at least six months.

There are also various Peyronie’s disease treatment devices which we have written about in this post: Peyronie’s Disease Treatment.

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