Peyronie’s disease – when a man’s penis curves

There is probably no other part of the male anatomy that men scrutinize the most than their penis.  If it is not perfectly straight when erect, a man may wonder is this normal or not.  To set the record, uh, straight, a slight curve or tendency to lean to the left or right when erect is considered normal.  But, if the penis has a significant bend that is more noticeable, then it could be a condition called Peyronie’s disease.

What is Peyronie’s disease?

Peyronie’s disease is when scar tissue or plaque forms in the penis.  It can occur at any age but men over the age of 40 are who it affects the most.  A thick, elastic membrane called the tunica albuginea is where the plaque builds up inside the tissues of this membrane.  Either the top or bottom of the penis is the most common areas where plaque buildup occurs. 

The plaque that forms is not the same type of plaque that develops in a person’s arteries.  It not associated with heart disease, is noncancerous, noncontagious and is not caused by a sexually transmitted disease.

This condition is estimated to affect between 1 to 23 percent of men from ages 40 to 70.  It is rare in young men and is more likely to appear as a man ages. 

Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease

The symptoms associated with Peyronie’s disease can range from mild to severe developing either slowly or suddenly.  Symptoms of this condition include:

·A curve in the penis when it is erect – usually it curves upward

·A thickened area or hard lump, which is the plaque, in the shaft of the penis

·Painful erections and sexual intercourse

·A misshapen look to the penis, like an hourglass

·Loss of length or girth of the penis

·Erectile dysfunction

Causes of Peyronie’s disease

It is not completely understood what causes Peyronie’s disease.  Some possible reasons could include the following:

·An injury to the penis such as being bent during sex.  Vigorous sex can cause microscopic tears to the penis

·A chronic or repeated injury to the penis

·Autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks certain areas of the body’s cells and organs


·A family history of the disease

Diagnosing and treating Peyronie’s disease

Any man who has Peyronie’s disease needs to discuss the problem with his doctor.  The longer he waits the greater chance for serious complications.  The complications can lead to not being able to have sexual intercourse, erectile dysfunction, anxiety and stress, and difficulty in fathering a child.

It is best if a man sees a urologist which will diagnosis Peyronie’s disease based on a man’s medical and family history, a thorough physical exam feeling the hardened tissue caused by the disease along with imaging tests. 

Treatment for Peyronie’s disease depends on how severe the condition is.  Some men don’t require any treatment if there is no pain and it is not affecting their sex life.  Non-surgical treatment options include medications and injections of steroids into the area affected. 

In more severe cases, it can be treated with surgery.  Generally a doctor will recommend waiting at least 12 months as the condition can improve on its own without surgery.  Surgery may involve removing or cutting away the plaque or implanting a device to straighten the penis.