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Peyronie’s Disease Overview
Peyronie’s disease is characterized by the development of scar tissue inside the penis and causes painful, curved erections (Penile Curvature (Peyronie’s Disease), July 2014). Aside from erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease can also cause significant stress and anxiety. While Peyronie’s disease can resolve itself over time, in most cases it either remains stable or worsens. In severe cases, where the curvature is especially excessive and prevents sexual intercourse entirely, a patient may require treatment.
The symptoms of Peyronie’s disease often appear suddenly, although it is also possible for them to develop over time. The most common symptoms of this disorder include:
- Scar tissue buildup, which can be felt under the skin as a band of hard tissue or a lump on the side of the penis;
- A significant bend in the penis;
- The shortening of the penis;
- Penile pain, both with and without an erection; and
- Erectile dysfunction.
Although the curvature associated with Peyronie’s disease may gradually worsen, it usually stabilizes over time. Similarly, painful erections may occur during the beginning stages of the disorder, but pain typically decreases within one to two years, although the curvature and scar tissue may remain. In rare cases, both the pain and curvature improve without treatment.
What Causes Peyronie’s Disease?
Peyronie’s disease, which is caused by the buildup of scar tissue inside the elastic membrane of the penis, begins with swelling. Although noncancerous, the scar tissue resulting from the inflammation in the penis can cause the organ to bend, which can cause painful erections and make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible.
Medical experts believe that Peyronie’s disease has a few different causes, including:
- A one-time injury to the penis;
- Repeated injuries to the penis; and
- Autoimmune diseases, which cause the immune system to attack the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs.
Some experts believe that suffering trauma to the penis can cause Peyronie’s disease if the injury was severe enough to rupture blood vessels, as this can cause swelling and bleeding, which in turn can restrict blood flow through the penis. As the injury heals, scar tissue can begin to build up in the injured area, thereby reducing the flexibility of the penis when erect and causing a curve.
Even those who don’t suffer any trauma to the penis could be diagnosed with Peyronie’s disease if they also suffer from an autoimmune disease. In men, this can result in inflammation and scarring in the penis, especially when the disorder primarily affects connective tissues. Some of the autoimmune diseases that are most commonly associated with Peyronie’s disease include lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and Behcet’s syndrome.
How is Peyronie’s Disease Treated?
There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments for Peyronie’s disease, both of which have the ultimate goal of reducing pain and restoring the ability to maintain an erection. Nonsurgical treatments include medical therapies that break up scar tissue and decrease curvature, such as:
- High-intensity ultrasound treatments;
- Radiation therapy;
- Shockwave therapy;
- Iontophoresis, which delivers medications through the skin via a low-level electrical current; and
- Mechanical traction, which focuses on stretching the penis to reduce curvature.
Aside from medical therapies, patients could take prescription medications that decrease scar tissue and inflammation. These medications can be taken orally, applied topically, or injected directly into the scar tissue.
Patients who have attempted non-surgical treatment methods or who have particularly severe curvature may need to try surgical intervention to straighten the penis or remove scar tissue through:
- Grafting, where a surgeon cuts the scar tissue and attaches skin or a vein in its place;
- Plication, which involves removing a piece of the tissue opposite of the scar tissue; and
- Device implantation, where the surgeon implants a device into the penis itself.
Some patients suffer from complications after surgery, so most medical experts suggest waiting at least one year from the onset of symptoms before attempting surgery.
Contact United Energy Workers Healthcare Today
To speak with a member of our home healthcare services team about your own condition and the healthcare services for which you may be eligible, please call United Energy Workers Healthcare at 888-416-0508 today.