Bent Penis Could Be Peyronie’s Disease – and It’s Not Uncommon
It might be embarrassing to talk about, but if you have a curved penis and painful erections, you might be suffering from Peyronie’s disease.
The condition, characterized by fibrous scar tissue inside the penis, reportedly affects one in 100 men over the age of 18 in the United States. But experts estimate the actual number may be closer to one in 10.
One reason you may not have heard of Peyronie’s disease? Men may be uncomfortable discussing it, even with their healthcare providers. But understanding Peyronie’s, including how it happens and who is most prone to it, can help remove some of the shame and stigma surrounding this surprisingly prevalent condition.
What Is Peyronie’s Disease?
Sometimes called penile curvature, Peyronie’s disease occurs when tough scar tissue (known as plaque) underneath the skin of the penis causes erections to be curved and painful.
Peyronie’s disease is often broken down into two stages:
Acute: During the acute phase, which typically lasts about six months, scar tissue forms in the penis and causes painful curving and other symptoms.
Chronic: During the chronic phase, plaque stops growing and symptoms usually stabilize.
Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include:
A significant bend in the penis. It’s not unusual for the penis to curve slightly, but with Peyronie’s the bend — which can be upward, downward, or to one side — is noticeable.
Scar tissue in the penis. With Peyronie’s, plaque forms a hard band or flat lumps that can be felt under the skin of the penis.
Erectile dysfunction. Men with Peyronie’s disease may have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
Shortening of the penis. In some men, Peyronie’s causes the penis to shorten or change shape.
Penile pain. Peyronie’s can cause men to feel pain in the penis, with or without an erection.
In addition to physical symptoms, Peyronie’s may also cause mental health issues. Men with Peyronie’s disease are at increased risk of psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression.
What Causes Peyronie’s Disease?
The main cause of Peyronie’s disease -- which is named after French surgeon François Gigot de la Peyronie, who described the condition in 1743 -- is trauma to the penis that disrupts blood flow. This kind of trauma can happen through vigorous sex, injury or accident. When blood flow is interrupted, plaque can form.
Not everyone who experiences penile trauma develops Peyronie’s, and scientists believe there may also be a genetic component to the disease. Men with certain health conditions — including autoimmune diseases like lupus and psoriasis as well as diabetes — may also be more prone to Peyronie’s disease.
How Is Peyronie’s Disease Treated?
There are several options for treating Peyronie’s disease, and which one is right for you depends on whether you’re in the acute or chronic phase. If your symptoms are relatively new (acute phase), your doctor may recommend:
Penile traction therapy to help minimize curving and length loss
Injection therapy to help dissolve plaque
In the chronic phase, treatment also can include possible surgery if the case is severe. Surgery will remove the plaque and apply a graft where it was removed.
Other surgical options include:
Penile prosthesis when curvature is severe and causes erectile dysfunction (ED).
Plication procedures, which adjust the side of the penis opposite the curvature to straighten it.
Using oral medications to treat Peyronie’s isn’t very effective, so medicines are injected instead. One injectable, XIAFLEX, has been shown to work particularly well to dissolve plaque and treat Peyronie’s disease.
What If You Don’t Treat Peyronie’s?
While symptoms of Peyronie’s disease may eventually stabilize on their own, you shouldn’t ignore the signs or wait for them to go away. The condition can worsen over time, and any increases in the curve may potentially lead to erectile dysfunction. See your doctor when you start having symptoms.
Choose to Stay in Touch
Sign up to receive the latest health news and trends, wellness & prevention tips, and much more from Orlando Health.Sign Up