Peyronie’s Disease is a condition of the connective tissue of the penis that causes the abnormal growth of plaques, or scar tissue in the tunica albuginea, the tissues that encases the corpora caverosa, the two long cylinders that run the length of the penis. This may cause pain, abnormal curvature, loss of girth and/or shortening of the penis, as well as erectile dysfunction or indentation.
Plaque on the topside of the shaft, which is most common, causes the penis to bend upward; a plaque on the underside causes it to bend downward. In some cases, the plaque develops on both top and bottom, leading to indentation and shortening of the penis. At times, pain, bending (a hinge-like effect), and emotional distress prohibit sexual intercourse.
The plaque is a flat plate of scar tissue that develops inside a thick membrane called the tunica albuginea, which envelopes the erectile tissues. The plaque begins as a localized inflammation and develops into a hardened scar which may become calcified. This plaque has no relationship to the plaque that can develop in arteries.
Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease
Dr. David Fenig treats cases of Peyronie’s disease ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may develop slowly or appear overnight.
Common symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include:
- Abnormal curvature of the penis
- Loss of girth or shortening of the penis
- Painful erections
- Indentation of the penis
- Difficulty with intercourse
- Discomfort for your partner
- Erectile dysfunction
In severe cases, the hardened plaque reduces flexibility, causing pain and forcing the penis to bend or arc during erection. In many cases, the pain decreases over time, but the bend in the penis may remain a problem, making sexual intercourse difficult. In a small percentage of men with the milder form of the disease, inflammation may resolve without causing significant pain or permanent bending. Dr. Fenig makes sure his patients know that the plaque itself is benign, or noncancerous. Peyronie’s disease is not contagious and is not known to be caused by any transmittable disease.
How does Peyronie’s disease develop?
Many researchers believe the plaque of Peyronie’s disease develops following trauma, such as hitting or bending that causes localized bleeding inside the penisor stretching and scarring of the tunica albuginea. While trauma might explain some cases of Peyronie’s disease, it does not explain why most cases develop slowly and with no apparent traumatic event. Some researchers theorize that it may be an autoimmune disorder.
How common is it?
Although it is believed to affect up to 10 percent of all men, it is also thought to be under-diagnosed because many patients are reluctant to discuss the condition with their doctors and many doctors do not ask.
While a small number of cases have been associated with other physical abnormalities, most are thought to be the result of microtrauma to the outer covering of the penis and subsequent scarring, which has resulted in the abnormal curvature. Many patients are often unaware or cannot recall ever being injured in a way that might have caused their problem.
Dr. Fenig understands that the condition may be somewhat embarrassing for you to discuss with your doctor and can cause significant emotional distress as well as pain and difficulty with intercourse. Rest assured that Dr. Fenig offers compassion and discretion for your most intimate issues and questions.
Learn more about your treatment options here.