More about Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease is named after a French surgeon who described it in the 18th century. It is caused by the development of collagen plaque, or scar tissue, on the shaft of the penis. The scar tissue, known as a Peyronie’s plaque, is not visible but can cause the penis to curve when erect. The penis can curve in various directions including upward, downward or to the side, depending on the location of the plaque.1

Who can get Peyronie’s disease?
What causes Peyronie's disease is still unknown, many different factors have been suggested. The most common explanation is that trauma, which may happen during intercourse, causes a small bleeding inside the penis. When the wound is healing, scar tissue (collagen plaque) is formed. Some men may be predisposed to develop excessive amount of scar tissue, and are therefore likely to develop Peyronie's disease.

Peyronie’s disease mostly affects men between 40–60 years of age, although it can occur at any age. It is not likely to go away on its own and may get worse over time. However, treatment may not be necessary if the condition does not affect the sexual function or significantly impairs quality of life. In a minority of cases, the condition improves without treatment.2

Symptoms
Peyronie’s disease signs and symptoms might appear suddenly or develop gradually. The most common signs and symptoms are penile curvature, scar tissue felt under the skin, erectile problems, shortening of the penis due to the curvature and penile pain. The penile curvature deformity might gradually worsen over time. However, at some point, it stabilizes in the majority of men. Peyronie's disease is usually divided into two stages: the acute phase and the chronic phase.

- Acute (active) phase. Starts with an acute inflammatory phase that generally lasts for 6 to 18 months. During this phase, pain may arise during erections and spontaneous resolution can occur. Progression in plaque size and curvature deformity is also common.3

- Chronic (stable) phase. In the chronic phase the pain is almost not felt or has completely gone, the plaque size and curvature deformity is stable and spontaneous resolution is not expected.

Psychological symptoms
The problem with Peyronie’s disease is not only physical – it also sticks in your head – as most men find it hard to adjust to having a bent penis. In a study with men with Peyronie's disease, 77 % said that they were affected psychologically. This had to do with worries about erection appearance and performance, decreased self-esteem and relationship difficulties. In another study, almost half of men with Peyronie's disease were classified as being depressed.4,5

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Sources:

  1. NHS website http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/875.aspx?CategoryID=61&SubCategoryID=61
  2. Tran VQ, et al. Adv Urol. 2008;263450;1-4.
  3. Bekos A, et al. Eur Urol. 2008;53:644-650.
  4. Nelson CJ, et al. J Sex Med. 2008;5:1985-1990.
  5. Rosen R et al. J Sex Med. 2008;5:1977-1984.