Causes & Treatment Options
Peyronie’s disease is a deformity caused by benign scar tissue, and is one of the major causes of erectile dysfunction. The tissue causes the penis to bend rather than straighten up when erect, which results in pain during sex.
Causes and Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease
The cause of Peyronie’s disease is unknown. However, doctors attribute it to trauma scaring inside the penis. The trauma causes internal bleeding in the penis and as the wound heals it stiffens into scar tissue. The region with the scar does not stretch during arousal or erection, which causes pain as it bends the penis to accommodate the stiffness.
According to researchers at Uro Today, Peyronie’s disease affects about 10% of adult men. With age, the penile tissue becomes more vulnerable to injury and slower to heal. Therefore, older men are at a greater risk for Peyronie’s disease than younger men.
Medications, such as beta blockers for treating heart conditions or high blood pressure, or interferon used to treat multiple sclerosis, among others, list Peyronie’s disease as a potential side effect.
Research suggests that certain genetic factors make some men vulnerable to Peyronie’s disease after suffering trauma to the penis. For instance, Caucasian men are more likely to develop it than other ethnicities.
Some signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include:
- A significant bend on an erect penis.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Shorter penis.
- Penile pain, with or without an erection.
- Scar tissue.
How is Peyronie’s Disease Diagnosed?
There are three principal ways in which your doctor can tell whether you have Peyronie’s disease. For a correct diagnosis, it is important to inform your doctor if you have had any penile injuries or trauma, and the severity of the injury.
First, the doctor may inspect your penis for hardened tissue (which requires your penis to be erect) and may administer an injection to help you get an erection. It is almost impossible to detect the condition and scared tissue in a soft penis.
During the physical exam, the doctor will also measure the length of your penis. In case your condition worsens, the doctor can then tell if the penis has become shorter.
Second, the physician may request an ultrasound or an x-ray and a biopsy of the affected area. Most doctors prefer to test for the disease using an ultrasound. Ultrasound enables the doctor to locate scar tissues and other abnormalities.
How to Treat Peyronie’s Disease
Because the condition self-corrects in some men, doctors might suggest a waiting period while monitoring the progress. It’s important to note that some degree of a curve in the penis is present in younger men but should be worrisome to middle-aged men and men in their 50s and 60s.
2 Phases of Peyronie’s Disease
The acute phase occurs in the early stages of the disease and lasts for about four weeks to a year. The second phase, referred to as the chronic phase, happens three to 12 months after symptoms begin.
Treatment of the disease depends on the stage of the disease. A patient in the acute phase will have penile traction therapy administered to help maintain length and minimize curvature formation. However, a patient in the chronic phase will require a combination of surgery, traction therapy, watchful waiting, and injection treatments.
Penile traction therapy involves stretching the penis with a device for a set period to improve the length and minimize penile deformity. Depending on how it has progressed, the self-applied device can be worn from as little as 30 minutes a day to up to three hours.
If there are little to no improvements after 9 to 12 months, surgery is the next option. Common Peyronie’s disease surgical procedures include:
- Suturing the unaffected side or the side with no scar, which results in a longer, less curved penis.
- Incision/excision and grafting where there is severe deformity or curvature. The scar tissue is removed and cut into, and the doctor will sew a piece of graft in that area from another part of your body.
- You may be asked to consider penile implants when one has both erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease.
Nutrition and supplementation can also help treat Peyronie’s disease. Some effective supplements are:
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: Reduces the pain and penis curvature, and slows the progression of the disease.
- Vitamin E: May reduce the severity of the penis curvature caused by Peyronie’s disease.
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): PABA is a natural treatment for patients dealing with scar tissue in the penis or fingers. Three grams taken daily can help reduce the progression of the disease.
Supplements are taken as long as symptoms persist. Be sure to speak with your doctor about options that may help you.