Peyronie’s disease causes scar tissue, or a hard lump, to form inside the penis. The cause is not really known, though trauma (such as hitting or bending) of the penis may be involved.
In its mild form, Peyronie’s disease can improve without treatment in 6 to 15 months. In most cases, the hardened scar tissue can make the penis less flexible, cause pain and force the penis to bend or arc during erection. In severe cases, this pain, bending and associated emotional distress can cause impotence and make sexual intercourse difficult or even impossible.
Peyronie’s disease occurs in about 1% of men, and is most common in middle-age, although it can also affect young and elderly men. Some men with the disease develop scar tissue and hardened cells in other elastic tissues of the body, such as the hand or the foot.
Please note: the information below does not constitute medical advice. If you have any concerns at all, speak to your GP or consultant.
Peyronie’s Disease symptoms
The symptoms of Peyronie’s disease can be mild or severe, and can develop suddenly or gradually. Symptoms include:
- Hardened tissue (plaque) in the penis
- Pain during erection
- Curve in the penis during erection
Distortion of the penis (indentation, shortening)
Peyronie’s Disease diagnosis
A doctor will check your medical history and examine your penis for hardened tissue. Sometimes, it is necessary to perform the examination with your penis erect. To do this, a substance that relaxes the blood vessels is injected into the penis, causing erection.
If you are able to take photographs of the problem area, this may help your doctor when you visit your surgery.
An x-ray or ultrasound scan can sometimes show up hardened plaque.
Surgery is the only effective treatment. However, in some cases this leads to shortening of the penis or some loss of erectile function. Because the scar tissue in Peyronie’s disease sometimes shrinks or disappears without treatment, it is often suggested that you wait one year or longer before trying surgery to correct it.
During this waiting time there are a few options that might improve symptoms, although these are of limited effectiveness. These include:
- Vitamin E and B-Complex tablets.
- Chemical agents injected directly into the scar tissue to break it down.
- Shock Wave therapy (high-energy rays directed to the scar tissue to break it down).
The body’s own healing mechanism is the best non-surgical treatment for Peyronie’s disease.
There are two types of surgery that are most commonly used to treat Peyronie’s disease.
Surgical removal of the hardened tissue
Usually involves a graft onto the penis.
Can mean that erectile function is partially lost, and the penis is not as rigid as before.
Removal or ‘pinching’ of tissue
- Removed from the side of the penis opposite the scar tissue.
- This cancels out the bending effect, although it does mean the erect penis is shorter.
Some men choose to have an implanted device that increases rigidity. In other cases, cuts, pinches and grafts will have to be performed alongside the implant, if the implant alone does not straighten the penis.
Need more information?
Speak to your GP or consultant if you notice any symptoms or to discuss Peyronie’s disease treatment options.