If you are like most people, you probably aren’t aware of Peyronie’s disease – unless you or someone close to you is suffering from the same. But not to worry, by the end of this article, you will know enough about this condition.
Peyronie’s disease occurs when plaques form beneath the penis’ skin, and as a result of the plaques, the penis ends up becoming indented or bending during erections. It is a chronic condition that can last for years or be lifelong.
Also referred to as penile fibrosis, Peyronie’s disease can happen due to a range of reasons, including repeated penile injury during physical activity or sexual intercourse, age, genetics, or Dupuytren’s contractures. And since the condition is self-diagnosable, you won’t have a hard time knowing you have Peyronie’s disease. However, if you are uncertain, or are keen on getting medical assistance, then you can visit your doctor for tests and medical help. If not treated, Peyronie’s disease may cause fibrosis, pain among other structural or functional abnormalities of the erect penis.
You are said to have Peyronie’s disease if you have a curved erection, focal pain that comes with an erection, hard mass or are unable to have sex because of the lesion. You may also feel pain. Pain is linked to the inflammation produced by the active stage of the healing process and usually goes away when the inflammation resolves. Scientists believe that the pain arises from the inflammation of Buck’s fascia since the tunica albuginea doesn’t have nerve fibers.
In the first one or more years after the formation of the scarred tissue, while the tunica scar is going through the remodeling process, penile distortion may remain static, increase, or resolve spontaneously. But in most cases, the bend remains static as the plaque matures – though in some patients it might worsen as fibrosis ensue. In 25% of these patients, the scarring phase proceeds to calcification, and in 25% of those, it continues to bone formation.
Once the scar matures, it becomes hard for the tunica albuginea configuration to be changed by nonsurgical care. Even so, a majority of patients with advanced Peyronie’s disease who haven’t gone through surgical treatment can still have satisfactory sex with their partner. About a third of men with end-stage Peyronie’s disease have a disabling bend that needs surgical treatment.
Pain linked to Peyronie’s disease may get worse when the corpora cavernosa suffers new injuries due to your attempts to compensate for, or correct, the original defect during sex. Many patients often end up seeking treatment because of the partner’s discomfort during sex that occurs due to the curvature.
Your doctor may only need to perform a physical test to identify the plaque and diagnose Peyronie’s disease. In rare occasions, other conditions lead to the same symptoms and need to be ruled out. Examinations to diagnose the disease and know the causes of your symptoms may include:
Physical tests: your physician will palpate (feel) your penis in its flaccid form to spot the amount and location of scar tissue. He/she might also take the length measurements of your penis. If the Peyronie’s disease progresses, your doctor will use the initial length measurements to gauge whether the size has reduced.
Sometimes, your physician might request that you take pictures of your erect penis at home to determine the location of scar tissue, the extent of bend, among other details that can help inform the treatment decisions.
Other exams: Your physician may also consider an X-ray, ultrasound, among other exams to assess your penis when it is erect. Do not worry about being able to erect in the hospital – your doctor will administer an injection to help you obtain an erection. With these tests, your doctor will be able to spot any abnormalities in your penis. The imaging exams produce soft tissues images that reveal the blood flow to the penis, underlying scar tissue any other issue.
If the bend is not severe and isn’t getting worse, you have an excellent erectile function, and you can still have and sustain an erection and have sex with mild or no pain, your doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach. However, if the symptoms are severe or aren’t getting better with time, your physician may suggest surgery or medication. Medications include collagenase, which is the only FDA approved drug for the condition. There’s also the interferon that disrupts the generation of fibrous tissue and helps disintegrate it, and Verapamil that disrupts collagen production. Common surgical methods include suturing the unaffected side, incision/excision & grafting, and penile implants.