Learn about this surprisingly common ailment, how it’s caused, and what can be done about it
Although women certainly have their fair share of issues to deal with regarding their reproductive organs, men are arguably more susceptible to traumatic injury. And one troubling condition that can affect men intimately is Peyronie’s disease.
Peyronie’s is when a bend in the penis makes erections painful. It is estimated that as much as 9 percent of the male population has or has had the condition. And although it can occur at any age, the most common sufferers are middle-aged.
What causes Peyronie’s disease?
Unfortunately, the exact cause and a definitive treatment for Peyronie’s disease still aren’t known. However, it is frequently brought on by some sort of trauma. When the penis heals, scar tissue called plaque – essentially a buildup of collagen – forms and alters the shape and function of the penis. This plaque accumulates in the thick membrane surrounding the erectile tissue. Generally the condition is brought about by things like:
- Frequent riding of a bike or a horse
- A sports injury such as a ball or hockey puck to the groin
- Rigorous sex that causes soft tissue to break and the penis to bend. Yes, it’s possible to literally “break” the penis during sex.
Signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease
The most common signs and symptoms include:
- A curve in the penis, noticeable with or without an erection
- Hard lumps on the penis
- Shortening of the penis
- Painful erections or pain during intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
While the curvature and scar tissue usually remain, the pain felt during erections usually improves in about a year or two, in many cases.
How Peyronie’s disease affects sex
Around 80 percent of men with Peyronie’s disease have some degree of ED. The buildup of scar tissue can cause difficulty getting and maintaining erections. And if a Peyronie’s sufferer can have them, they can be painful, which is why sex may be avoided entirely. Even if there isn’t much pain, some men might not want to have sex due to being self-conscious about how their penis looks.
How is Peyronie’s disease treated?
Once a doctor has diagnosed Peyronie’s disease, he or she will make a recommendation for treatment that could include:
A wait-and-see approach
In some instances, Peyronie’s disease clears up on its own, though often some sort of treatment – at least some sort of pain relief, in the short term – is necessary. If there aren’t severe symptoms or discomfort, a doctor may decide to first wait before doing anything else.
Making lifestyle changes
Some studies suggest that Peyronie’s disease could be made worse if men have certain habits, including smoking, drug use, and alcohol consumption. Cutting back on these things or eliminating them entirely – along with exercising more and eating right – could help with the condition.
Some medications have been proven to help people with Peyronie’s disease, including collagenase clostridium histolyticum (sold under the brand name Xiaflex), which has FDA approval for men with a penis curvature of more than 30 degrees while erect. This medication is injected into the penis in order to break up collagen.
If medication proves ineffective, there are other non-surgical treatments to consider. Penile traction therapy and some vacuum devices may help. And one treatment that has been proven to be effective in some patients is low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy (LI-ESWT).
“The use of LI-ESWT in [Peyronie’s disease] has been reported since the late 1980s” and recent research published in Translational Andrology and Urology found that this type of treatment can help reduce both curvature and pain. The authors concluded that “LI-ESWT remains a useful and valid minimally invasive treatment option for men with PD who have failed with conventional medical therapy and are not keen to undergo surgical intervention.”
Surgery for Peyronie’s disease is seen as a last resort, and it’s not recommended until at least a year has passed since symptoms were noticed. Surgery options include lengthening the side with the scar tissue or shortening the other side. One procedure, called the Nesbit placation, involves the removal or cinching of excess tissue, which results in a straighter – albeit shorter – penis.
How GAINSWave® may help with Peyronie’s disease
GAINSWave uses a premium brand of low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy (LI-ESWT) to help men suffering from Peyronie’s disease – as well as individuals who are dealing with unrelated erectile dysfunction or those who want to proactively improve sexual performance.
This treatment projects low-intensity shockwaves that break down scar tissue, as well plaque that builds up in blood vessels and blocks blood flow to the penis. GAINSWave is an in-office procedure that works without drugs or surgery.
If you think you have Peyronie’s disease, the first step is talking to your doctor. And if this is the diagnosis, be sure to ask about the many treatment options available, including shock wave therapy from GAINSWave. To find a provider, access the directory here.