Peyronie’s (pronounced “Pay-ROH-neez”) disease is caused by a plaque under the skin of the penis that results in a bent, or curved penis when erect. A Peyronie’s plaque may result from injury to the penis and/or genetic factors; however, the exact cause of Peyronie’s disease is unknown.
Peyronie’s disease is unlikely to go away on its own, and may get worse over time. That’s why speaking to your Health Care Professionalf (HCP) about it is so important.
A variety of treatments have been used, but none have been especially effective.
How common is Peyronie’s disease?
- 3%–9% of adult males, worldwide, are estimated to have Peyronie’s disease, but because of the embarrassment involved, many men may not ask their HCPs about it
- While Peyronie’s disease occurs more often in men between 40 and 70 years old, it can occur at any adult age
- Some patients with Peyronie’s disease may think that it’s erectile dysfunction; however, Peyronie’s disease is different
Signs and symptoms
The disease may cause pain; hardened, big, cord-like lesions (scar tissue known as “plaques”); or abnormal curvature of the penis when erect due to chronic inflammation of the tunica albuginea (CITA). Although the popular conception of Peyronie’s disease is that it always involves curvature of the penis, the scar tissue sometimes causes divots or indentations rather than curvature. The condition may also make sexual intercourse painful and/or difficult, though it is unclear whether some men report satisfactory or unsatisfactory intercourse in spite of the disorder.
It can affect men of any race and age. The disorder is confined to the penis, although a substantial number of men with Peyronie’s exhibit concurrent connective tissue disorders in the hand, and to a lesser degree, in the feet. About 30 percent of men with Peyronie’s disease develop fibrosis in other elastic tissues of the body, such as on the hand or foot, including Dupuytren’s contracture of the hand. An increased incidence in genetically related males suggests a genetic component.
The underlying cause of Peyronie’s disease is not well understood, but is thought to be caused by trauma or injury to the penis usually through sexual intercourse or physical activity, although many patients are often unaware of any traumatic event or injury.
A urologist may be able to diagnose the disease and suggest treatment. An ultrasound can provide conclusive evidence of Peyronie’s disease, ruling out congenital curvature or other disorders.
Without treatment, about 12–13% of patients will spontaneously improve over time, 40–50% will get worse and the rest will be relatively stable. This is based on a survey of 97 men and therefore based on the subjective impression of the patients. No objective long-term natural history via continual evaluation of patients has been recorded to date.
Peyronie’s disease can be a physically and psychologically devastating disease. While most men will continue to be able to have sexual relations, they are likely to experience some degree of deformity and erectile dysfunction in the wake of the disease process. It is not uncommon for men afflicted with Peyronie’s disease to exhibit depression or withdrawal from their sexual partners.