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What is Peyronie’s Disease?

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Peyronie’s disease (also known as curvature of the penis) is a medical condition found in males. When the penis is erect, it bends or curves abnormally. This can make having intercourse difficult and in some cases, painful.

Fibrous scar tissue (fibrous plaque) develops under the skin of the penis and along the length of it. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), in the United States approximately one percent of males suffer from this condition.

In many instances, a man’s penis may curve slightly to the left or the right. This is not a reason to be worried. Congenital curvature is the name given to a certain degree of curving or bending of the organ. It is something a male may be born with and it is considered normal.

However, if the bend is severe and serious enough it can cause pain. This is what Peyronie’s disease is. It can make it difficult for a man to engage in sexual activity and is one of the causes of erectile dysfunction. Worrying about the condition can trigger problems with sexual performance.

What Causes Peyronie’s Disease?

Doctors are not clear about what causes this health condition in men. Many scientists theorize that the plaque that builds up on the penis may occur after trauma to the organ (such as bending or hitting). The trauma leads to localized bleeding inside. In many cases, the injury may not be obvious because it has taken place internally.

There are other times when incidences of Peyronie's disease are believed to have a genetic component. It may be passed from a parent to a child through their genetic makeup. It is possible that the condition may be brought on by a combination of factors.

It may also occur as a potential side effect of various medications. The chance of developing it from drugs you take is low. At present it is just a theory that drugs may be linked to Peyronie’s disease. It is always a good idea though to become familiar with the possible side effects of any prescription or over-the-counter drug you plan to take.

Who Gets Peyronie’s Disease?

It is not known why certain men develop this disorder and other men do not. When it does occur, it is most often seen in middle-aged men. However, younger males and older males can also develop it. In some incidences, men who are biologically related (such as fathers, brothers, uncles and sons) tend to acquire the disease, which suggests that it is inherited. There is no conclusive proof of this at present.

Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease

The symptoms of this health condition may develop slowly or they may appear very suddenly. When the penis is flaccid, the problem is not easy to identify. In the most serious of cases the hardened plaque on the penis (which is not cancerous) will reduce the level of flexibility found in the organ, leading to pain. It will also cause the penis to arc or bend when it is erect. In some men the discomfort will lessen over time but the bend will remain a constant problem.

Milder forms of this disorder will sometimes improve on their own, without agonizing pain or permanent curvature. Approximately five to 19 percent of Peyronie’s cases will resolve on their own timetable.

Some males who have this disease will develop scar tissue on other parts of their body, such as the hands or feet. This does not happen to everyone who has this disorder though.

Peyronie’s Disease Diagnosed

The physician will discuss the symptoms you are experiencing with you and will ask you if you have sustained any type of injury that might be a factor in the circumstances you are living with. He will want to examine your penis and feel the hardened tissue that has developed. The physician may wish to perform the exam when the penis is erect as opposed to soft. This will make it easier to see the bend in the organ.

If the examination is not enough to confirm that the disorder is Peyronie’s, a biopsy may need to be done. This is often the case if the condition has developed quickly. Tissue is carefully removed from the penis when a biopsy is done. This tissue is then sent to a laboratory for evaluation.

Can Peyronie’s Disease Be Treated?

This condition can be treated. Due to the fact that some patients see an improvement without the need for treatment, doctors will often recommend that they wait a year or two before any treatment is undertaken. Mild cases rarely require any treatment at all. If the person can have intercourse without discomfort, treatment may not be required. It is only in the severest of cases when treatment methods must be discussed. Medication, penile injections and surgery are the three main methods of treating Peyronie’s disease.

Summary

Peyronie’s disease is a disorder in males that leads to a curvature of the penis. It can bring about pain and problems during sexual intercourse. While not life threatening, this problem can cause anxiety in those who develop it. In mild case, the problem usually goes away on its own. However, in extreme cases, medical intervention is often required to correct the problem.

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