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Peyronie’s Disease is a condition where patches of scar tissues or fibrous plaques develop along the shaft of the penis, resulting in bending or deformity of the penis, painful erections and difficulties in having sexual intercourse. It is named after the French surgeon Francois Gigot who discovered it in 1743. The condition is usually only obvious when the penis is erect.
The cause of Peyronie’s Disease is unknown but it has been suggested that it may be due to hitting or bending the penis which damages blood vessels causing them to rupture, leading to bleeding and swelling inside the penis. This swelling can reduce the blood flow through the layers of the penis, causing clots to form and trap immune cells. As the injury heals the immune cells release chemicals which can lead to the formation of too much scar tissue which then builds up and forms a plaque. The plaque reduces the elasticity and flexibility of the penile tissue during erection, making the penis curved. The plaque can lead to calcification within the penile tissues, making the penis inflexible.
It may be as a result of genetic development or low levels of testosterone. Babies can be born with a congenital condition which does not become apparent until they sexually mature.
It is difficult to estimate how many men are affected by the disease as many are too embarrassed to seek medical advice. It is thought to affect between 3-9 men out of every 100 men, mainly over 50, although a small number of teenagers do have the condition. The congenital form of the disease is rare. The chance of developing Peyronie’s Disease increases with age.
There are several signs and symptoms of the disease including:
Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease can range from mild to severe. Some symptoms may develop slowly or appear quickly. In many cases, the pain slowly decreases even though the curve in the penis remains. In less severe cases, the curve disappears too.
If you think you may have Peyronie’s Disease, ask your GP to refer you to a urologist – a doctor specialised in urological problems.
A urologist will initially take your history by asking questions about:
The urologist will conduct a physical examination of the genital area to ascertain if there are any plaque deposits in the penis. These can often be felt under the skin. An x-ray or ultrasound scan may be performed to find out if there is any structural defect causing the problem.
Non surgical treatments include medication to reduce inflammation, pain plaque size and curvature. These can be administered orally, by injection or as a topical formulation applied directly to the skin over the plaque. Treatments to break up the scar tissue may be used, including:
Mechanical treatments include:
Surgical interventions may be recommended when symptoms have not improved, erections, sexual intercourse or both are painful or the curve of the penis is so great it does not allow the man to have sexual intercourse. They include:
A new study (2016) at the University of Turin has shown that a surgical treatment can be effective for treating Peyronie’s disease. The study, published in the Journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BJU) found that 28 patients experienced an average penile lengthening of 3.2 cm after undergoing the surgery which involved a “sliding technique” and penile prothesis implant.
This surgical technique is currently under study to see if it benefits other male sexual health conditions and already showing promising results said Dr Marco Falcone, co-author of the study.
Many men have a fulfilling sex life with Peyronie’s Disease but if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or have any concerns that you may have Peyronie’s Disease, seek medical advice. Your GP will be able to refer you to a urologist who will help you to resolve the problem, often with minimal medical intervention.