Scar tissue that contributes to curvature of the penis is the main characteristic of Peyronie's disease.
For some men, Peyronie’s disease is mild and not a major issue. Other times, the condition results in a severe curvature that causes issues with sexual functioning that can be associated with increased stress and anxiety.
It’s when Peyronie’s disease begins to affect quality of life in some way that it’s time to seek medical attention.
Causes and Symptoms
There is no one specific cause of Peyronie’s disease. It may develop as a result of an injury to the penis during athletic or sexual activity. If an injury is the cause of the condition, the scar tissue that forms during the healing process may produce the related curvature.
The curve of penis caused the scar tissue is usually noticeable during an erection since the affected tissue doesn’t stretch like normal tissue, which may result in a bend that goes in one direction or the other. Symptoms or signs associated with Peyronie’s disease may include:
- Bumps or a band of hard tissue felt through the skin of the penis
- An hourglass appearance or bent appearance of the penis when erect
- Erection difficulties
- Discomfort with or without an erection
Assessment and Diagnosis
Peyronie’s disease is usually assessed and diagnosed with a physical examination. Testing may involve an ultrasound that’s performed after an injection is placed into the penis to cause it to become erect. Image testing may also be done if there’s a need to rule out other possible reasons for the abnormality.
Treatment for Peyronie’s Disease
For some men, symptoms related to Peyronie’s disease become less noticeable over time. Even with the curvature still in place, a point may be reached where pain during sexual activity is less of an issue. Should this be the case, there may be no need for treatment unless discomfort returns. If the condition is causing significant pain or contributing to relationship issues, it may be treated with medication or surgery.
Pentoxifylline is one of the oral medications that may be recommended to help reduce the scar tissue associated with Peyronie’s disease. Some men see noticeable improvements with penile injections placed directly into the affected area. If injections are the preferred treatment, they are usually administered over a period of several months.
The only FDA-approved medication specifically for Peyronie’s disease, collagenase (XIAFLEX®) may be combined with what’s termed “modeling,” a technique where the penis is forcibly bent to correct the abnormality.
Surgery may be considered if medications and other non-surgical treatments aren’t effective or once a man has had the condition for at least a year and the curvature has stabilized. Surgical options include:
- Suturing of the unaffected side for mild-to-moderate curvatures
- Grafting with synthetic material or human tissue for severe curvatures
- Penile implants
Taking precautions to avoid trauma to the pelvic area sometimes reduces the odds of developing Peyronie’s disease. Otherwise, there are no standard preventive measures. Some men develop problems due to the curvature later in life, while others reach a point where the abnormality stabilizes and becomes less problematic. The condition may also be associated with connective tissue disorders like Dupuytren’s contracture and certain surgical procedures for prostate issues.