Men are often reluctant to discuss sexual problems out of embarrassment, fear of being thought of as less than manly, or simply because they don’t understand what’s happening. Ignoring issues, however, can lead to erectile dysfunction, emotional distress, and can even cause irreparable damage to intimate relationships. One such issue is called Peyronie’s (pay-roe-NEEZ) disease. Experts believe that up to 10% of men are afflicted with it, and it’s most common in men who are over 40.
What is Peyronie’s Disease?
Peyronie’s disease is best described as a significant curvature of the erect penis that is caused by fibrous scar tissue inside the organ. These plaques can often be felt through the skin and are often very painful. It can be difficult for a man with the disease to achieve and maintain an erection, and sexual activity may cause severe pain. It’s important to note that penises come in all shapes and sizes and a curved erection can be perfectly normal. However, Peyronie’s may be present when the curve causes pain or affects sexual performance.
Peyronie’s Disease Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease might come on suddenly but they may also develop over time. Regardless of the speed at which symptoms are noticed, the most common include:
- Scar Tissue Build-Up – A man may notice flat lumps or bands of hard tissue under the skin of his penis.
- Significant Penis Bend – Men with Peyronie’s observe their penis taking on an unnatural and severe curve or bend.
- Misshapen Penis – Sometimes, the erect penis may narrow, indents may appear, or it may take on an hourglass shape.
- Penis Shortening – Some men note that the length of their penis is reduced when Peyronie’s is present.
- Penis Pain – Peyronie’s can cause a man to experience penile pain whether he has an erection or not.
- Erectile Dysfunction – A man with Peyronie’s may experience problems getting, or maintaining an erection.
Main Causes of Peyronie’s Disease
Medical experts are not certain what causes Peyronie’s disease, however, most agree that acute, chronic, or repeated injury to the penis is the main cause. Some also believe that an autoimmune disease could be responsible. Any injury can cause blood vessels to rupture inside the penis, which causes internal bleeding and swelling. In turn, the swelling stops blood from flowing through the chambers of the penis. As a result, erections are either difficult or impossible to achieve. As the injury heals, scar tissue builds up leading to a loss of elasticity in the tissue, leading to curvature.
- Acute Injury – If a man hits his penis very hard, or bends it because of an accident, it can cause an acute injury. Likewise, vigorous sexual activity, and bending of the penis during penetration, or by his partner’s pubic bone are common causes. He may, or may not, realize he’s hurt himself immediately as the pain may go away quickly.
- Chronic & Repeated Injury – Certain athletic activities, such as bicycling or horseback riding for long periods, can cause repeated injury to a man’s penis. Since they involve a great deal of sitting, pressure, and jolts to the groin area, they can cause Peyronie’s to develop over time. As with an acute injury, the man may not realize the damage until symptoms appear.
- Autoimmune Disorders – Some experts believe that autoimmune diseases that affect connective tissues may lead to Peyronie’s disease. If the immune system attacks cells inside the penis, it can lead to inflammation, scarring, and severe curvature. Oftentimes, men with Peyronie’s are also prone to Dupuytren’s contracture, which causes the fingers to pull inward due to a cord-like thickening in the palm of the hand.
- Family History – Men who have close relatives with Peyronie’s disease may also be at risk for developing it themselves. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it’s wise to ask your father, brother, uncle, and grandfather if they also experience a painful curvature of the penis. This information can help both you and your doctor manage the disease more easily.
- Age – Sexual performance naturally declines as a man ages and his hormone levels change. However, the inclination towards Peyronie’s also increases, affecting men who are over the age of 55 more often than their younger counterparts. If he smokes, consumes alcohol, ingests certain drugs, has had prostate surgery, or other health issues are present, a man’s risk is even greater as he ages.
Treatments for Peyronie’s Disease
For some men, the symptoms of the disease go away on their own and only require some minor pain relief and rest. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use, and incorporating healthy eating and exercise habits may also eliminate the problem. However, this is not always the case. If the damage is severe enough, and the man is in acute pain, medical treatment may be necessary.
- Prescription Drug Treatment – In some cases, Xiaflex may be injected directly into the penis to break down the excess collagen that causes penile curvature. It is currently the only medication that is approved by the FDA for Peyronie’s disease and is only used when the curvature is more than 30 degrees when the penis is erect.
- Non-Surgical Options – Low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy (LI-ESWT) is used to break up the fibrous scar tissue. After the procedure, blood flow is increased in the penis and cell regeneration occurs. This non-surgical procedure helps restore the penis’s natural flexibility, resulting in a reduction in the curvature, and an improvement in both form and function.
- Surgical Treatment Options – In the most severe cases, surgical intervention is recommended. Surgical procedures include Nesbit Plication, tissue grafting, and penile implants. Surgery, however, is considered a last resort treatment for men who have had Peyronie’s for at least a year, and whose condition is stable. These procedures may result in a shorter penis and sometimes erectile dysfunction.
Contact GAINSWave® For Help Treating Peyronie’s Disease
Some people will say that ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to health issues, this is certainly not the case. Men should take the time to learn about and understand gender-specific conditions like Peyronie’s disease in order to ensure their well-being in the future.
If you believe that you have Peyronie’s disease, remember that you’re not alone. Don’t be ashamed, embarrassed, or reluctant to talk to your doctor about treatment options such as GAINSWave. It’s a non-surgical premium brand of low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (LI-ESWT). Not only is it an effective treatment for Peyronie’s, it’s ideal for men who experience erectile dysfunction. It can also enhance a healthy man’s sexual performance.