Peyronie’s disease is a condition that arises when fibrous scar tissue develops on the penis resulting in curved, painful erections. It is non-cancerous, and a curved erection isn’t necessarily a sign that one has the disease. People with Peyronie’s usually experience pain and an inability to have sex or maintain an erection, thanks to the disease.
Additionally, Peyronie’s may also cause significant stress and anxiety, along with the possibility of the penis getting shorter as the disease develops. Sadly, Peyronie’s disease doesn’t tend to go away on its own. Without active treatment, the condition either becomes worse or remains as it is. Early treatment is usually key to managing the symptoms and stopping them from developing.
Causes of Peyronie’s Disease
While scientists haven’t been able to identify the exact cause of Peyronie’s disease definitively, they have pinpointed a handful of factors that are usually common in most cases. For starters, it is widely accepted that Peyronie’s disease tends to arise from sustaining repeated injuries to the penis.
For example, injuries that occur during sex may result in Peyronie’s, along with injuries sustained during athletic activities and accidents. Of course, it is also possible for a patient to recall no such trauma even after the condition arises. Subsequently, scar tissues begin to form, in a haphazard manner, and the curvature begins.
Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease
Below are some of the signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease that tend to show up gradually or suddenly.
- Scar Tissues – Fibrous scar tissues that develop on the penis, either at the top, bottom, or side, during Peyronie’s disease, are known as plaques. The development of these scars is usually an indication of Peyronie’s.
- Erectile Dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction is usually associated with Peyronie’s disease. This usually arises before the other symptoms begin to show up.
- Curved Penis – Plaques forming on top of the penis may cause the penis to bend upwards, while those forming on the bottom or side may lead it to bend downward or sideways.
- Penis Shortening – Once Peyronie’s disease starts to develop, patients may begin to experience a reduction in penis size.
- Pain & Penile Deformity – Pain during Peyronie’s disease can occur during erection, and even when the penis is not erect. Furthermore, other deformities of the penis may arise in addition to or despite curvature. This includes narrowing, indentation, and even the penis being shaped like an hourglass.
These symptoms may worsen over time (including the curvature and shortening) until they stabilize after three to twelve months. Pain may also increase in intensity for about a year or two when it becomes more bearable. Even at this point, however, the plaques and shortening remain.
Peyronie’s Disease Diagnosis
Diagnosis of Peyronie’s disease requires a physical exam. The exam aims to identify the presence of scar tissues and, in certain cases, eliminate the possibility of other conditions. During a physical exam, your doctor examines your penis when it’s not erect to identify the location and frequency of scar tissue.
The doctor may also measure your penis length to track shortening over time. If they need to perform a test with your penis erect, they may likely carry out a direct injection into the penis that helps it get erect. The doctor may also perform additional tests like an ultrasound.
Peyronie’s Disease Treatment
Treatment of Peyronie’s disease is usually a function of how long the symptoms began. Usually, this is divided into two phases – the acute phase and the chronic phase. For the acute phase, penile traction therapy and medication may be recommended, but not surgery. For the chronic phase, treatment may include injection treatment, traction therapy, and surgery.
Peyronie’s Treatment Options
Collagenase is one of the most popular medications for Peyronie’s disease. It is proven to improve curvature and other symptoms. Collagenase works by breaking down the buildup of collagen responsible for curvature.
Verapamil & Interferon
Verapamil and interferon are other medication alternatives. In particular, Verapamil is used to treat high blood pressure but has shown promise in inhibiting collagen buildup responsible for the scar tissue formation in Peyronie’s disease. Interferon has also shown promise in disrupting fibrous tissue buildup.
Neowave is an acoustic wave therapy device employed in treating a wide range of erectile dysfunction, including Peyronie’s disease. The treatment uses shockwaves to boost blood flow and facilitate net vascularization, among others. Neowave’s acoustic wave therapy is geared towards providing a more long-term alternative to pills and supplements.
Surgery is usually recommended once a case of Peyronie’s disease becomes severe enough and has lasted for up to 9 or 12 months. At this point, it would also have become bothersome up to the point of preventing sexual intercourse.
Common surgical methods employed in treating Peyronie’s disease include suturing the unaffected area, incision, grafting, and inserting penile implants. The exact surgery method employed depends on the peculiarities of the condition, including the location of scar tissue and the severity of symptoms.
Traction therapy can be employed in acute Peyronie’s disease treatment to stretch the penis with a device. This mechanical device is usually self-applied and worn on the penis for a specified period to improve the length and adjust the curvature.
The specific duration for which the device must be worn varies based on the peculiarities of conditions. It can be worn, for example, for as little as 30 minutes or for as long as 8 hours every day until improvement starts to show.
Risk Factors of Peyronie’s Disease
As mentioned earlier, it is quite common for Peyronie’s disease to arise due to previous injuries. And while these don’t usually lead to the onset of the disease, the probability can be increased by a handful of risk factors, including heredity, connective tissue disorders, and age.
Lastly, it should also be reiterated that while fibrous tissues in Peyronie’s disease may act like cancerous cells, they are not. Peyronie’s disease is not cancer, and there has never been a recorded instance of the disease turning into cancer in humans.