Despite its relatively small incidence, Peyronie’s disease is a serious condition that can cause pain and erections that are not always comfortable. Peyronie’s disease is not well understood, but researchers are trying to understand it. Symptoms are mild to moderate, and may come on gradually or happen overnight. However, if symptoms become severe, or if they make it difficult for you to have sex, you may need to seek medical treatment. The goal is to reduce the pain, as well as restore your sexual function.
Peyronie’s disease is caused by scar tissue that develops under the skin of the penis. This tissue can swell and cause pain and erections. It can also cause the penis to curve. It is most likely caused by an inherited trait, although doctors aren’t sure exactly how it causes the disease. Men with connective tissue disorders, such as Dupuytren’s disease, are at a higher risk for developing Peyronie’s.
Some symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include painful erections, loss of girth, and the formation of a plaque. These plaques may develop on both the upper and lower sides of the penis. They may also be palpable through the skin.
Peyronie’s disease can be diagnosed by a physical examination. The doctor will feel for scar tissue or hardened tissue and may perform an ultrasound exam to look at structures within the penis. X-rays are also helpful, but they aren’t always needed. The doctor will also ask about your family history. The more family members that have the condition, the greater the likelihood that you will develop it.
If your doctor believes that Peyronie’s disease is the cause of your symptoms, they may prescribe medications to help you manage the pain. These medications are usually injected into the penis, and may be effective for men with the initial phase of the disease. Oral therapy is also an option, but it usually has limited efficacy. You may also be prescribed interferon injections to help lower the production of fibrous tissue.
In some cases, the disease is caused by a severe injury to the penis, such as during a sports injury or accident. This can cause bleeding and scar tissue to develop. The doctor will feel the scar tissue under the skin of the penis and may order an ultrasound exam to see if the damage is significant. If the injury is severe, surgery may be needed. This type of surgery is considered the gold standard for treating Peyronie’s disease.
During the initial stage of the disease, injections of medication into the plaque are the best option. Xiaflex, a medication that reduces the size of the plaque, may also be used. Collagenase injections may also be used to help decrease the size of the plaque.
If your doctor believes that you are in the chronic phase of the disease, you may be referred to a urologist who specializes in men’s health. During your appointment, the doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and find the best treatment option for you.