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What is Peyronie's Disease?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2018
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Peyronie’s disease is a condition affecting appearance and often function of the penis, especially during erection. Resulting from scar tissue formation within the penis that has usually occurred due to injuries, the condition causes the penis to curve when erect. This is associated with pain during intercourse, orgasm, or erectile dysfunction. There are several ways to address Peyronie’s disease and restore appearance and function.

Though there isn’t always an identifying causal factor for Peyronie’s disease, it does appear that some are more prone than others toward this condition. The disease is common in families, and certain other illnesses that can more readily result in damage to connective tissue may elevate the risk of formation of scar tissue within the penis. Even without these risk factors, people can develop the disease if they suffer penile injury.

An injury doesn’t have to be severe, but it does have to cause enough damage so that scar tissue begins to form. This tissue, then, causes the penis to shorten on one side only, which results in curvature. Degree of curve usually depends on amount of scarring.

The symptoms of Peyronie’s disease may vary. Scarring can make the penis appear shorter. The curve is most noted during erection, and appearance is dependent on where scarring occurred. Usually this appearance occurs suddenly. Some men have a natural curve when they are erect, but the disease is different because there is a perceivable change in erection appearance.

Additional symptoms of Peyronie’s disease can include painful orgasm or inability to maintain erection. These are not minor symptoms. Especially erectile dysfunction can be problematic because it can interfere with sexual confidence. Both of these features together can have a strong impact on relationship intimacy.

When this condition is suspected, most men will see a urologist for treatment. The urologist can feel for scar tissue under the skin and examine the erect penis to determine degree of curvature. Treatment may only be required if people are finding the condition interferes with sexual life or if Peyronie’s disease is painful.

The most common treatment approaches are surgical, where bands of scar tissue can be removed to promote more comfortable erection and straighter appearance. Another approach is to operate on the side of the penis unaffected by scarring and shorten while straightening the whole penis. Some men feel challenged by a suggested procedure that would reduce penis length, so this is not always a first choice. Less utilized treatments include injections of enzymes or other substances that may be able to break down scarring.

It should be noted that surgery for Peyronie’s disease doesn’t occur until 18-24 months after the illness begins. The disease progresses for up to two years after first showing symptoms. It doesn’t make sense to operate if the disease is still creating curvature because a surgery wouldn’t correct the problem. Usually people with this illness are examined several times by a urologist to evaluate optimum time for surgical correction.

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