What is Peyronie's Disease?
Peyronie's Disease is a condition in which the penis is curved. This curvature is most noticeable during an erection, and it can cause pain and difficulty with penetration during sex. It can also lead to anxiety and stress. Peyronie's Disease affects men generally between the ages of 40 and 70.
Peyronie's Disease Causes
The curvature of the penis comes from a buildup of scar tissue. Normal tissue will stretch with an erection, but scar tissue stays tight. A penis affected by this condition may curve or narrow at the shaft, creating an hourglass shape.
Doctors don't have a definitive explanation for why the condition occurs. However, possible causes include:
- An injury, whether from sports, trauma, or even sex, that creates scar tissue.
Peyronie's Disease isn't a life-threatening condition, nor does it increase your risk of cancer or other illnesses. Although doctors don't fully understand the causes of Peyronie's Disease, there are treatments to improve the symptoms.
Peyronie's Disease Symptoms
A curved penis during an erection is the most common symptom of the condition, but you may notice other symptoms such as:
- A lump or thickening along the shaft. You may notice this even when the penis is soft.
- Pain during an erection. You may also experience tenderness at the site of the scar tissue buildup.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Difficulty with penetration during sex.
Symptoms may develop slowly over time, and they may even go away on their own. If you're experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options and about getting a referral to a urology consultant who specialises in this area.
Peyronie's Disease Diagnosis
Diagnosing this condition begins with a physical exam and medical history. Your consultant will ask about your symptoms and family history, and they will likely do a physical exam. They may inject a drug into the penis to make it erect, allowing them to identify scar tissue build up. Your consultant may also order imaging such as:
- An ultrasound or x-ray. This allows the consultant to see what's happening under the skin.
- Doppler flow study. This uses an ultrasound to measure blood flow within the penis.
Imaging tests also help make a diagnosis by excluding other possible causes of your symptoms.
Peyronie's Disease Treatment
There are treatment options to reduce the symptoms and help the penis function normally. What treatment looks like will depend on your individual situation. If the condition is mild and doesn't interfere with sex or cause pain, the recommendation may be to simply monitor the condition and avoid taking any action unless it worsens.
For mild to moderate cases, your consultant may recommend taking medication that targets the buildup of collagen and tissue to help reduce pain and correct the curve. These medications may be delivered through an injection into the penis or taken orally.
- Collagenase: This is delivered by injection to break down collagen causing the curvature.
- Verapamil: This injection blocks further production of collagen to prevent the curve from worsening.
- Interferon: This injection breaks down scar tissue causing the curve.
- Pentoxifylline: This oral medication combines vitamin E and colchicine or carnitine to reduce scar tissue.
If you have a severe curvature that causes pain and interferes with your daily life, surgery may be recommended. Peyronie's Disease can worsen over time; it's best to wait until there's been no change in the condition for at least six months before you undergo surgery. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of surgical procedure options in detail with your consultant.
Contact Us About Peyronie's Disease Treatment at UPMC
If you have questions about your urologic health or are experiencing symptoms associated with Peyronie's Disease, ask your GP for a referral to our Consultant Andrologist, Mr. Ivor Cullen.