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Peyronie’s Disease: A Mysterious Penile Condition
Peyronie’s disease is a condition that develops in approximately 1% men. With this condition the penis can form fibrosis, or hardened tissues, in the penis. The fibrosis can cause curvature of the penis, pain, or deformity in the penis.
Causes of Peyronie’s disease
Peyronie’s disease afflicts the tunica albuginea, or erectile tissue, in the penis. It is not clear what exactly causes Peyronie’s disease. Gathering from case studies of Peyronie’s disease that developed quickly, it is believe it may be caused by invasive procedures to the penis, or trauma of the penis that could occur during sex. When Peyronie’s disease develops slowly over time it may be due to an inherited genetic abnormality.
Case studies have also shown that men with other conditions that cause inflammation are more at risk. Conditions such as diabetes may cause Peyronie’s disease. It may also be caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D or by antihypertensive medications.
Signs and Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease can develop slowly over time, or can appear rapidly.
Some symptoms to look out for include:
● Erectile pain
● Any curvature to the penis during an erection
● Distortion to the penis such as an indentation, especially during erection
● Tissue hardening in the penis, even when flaccid
Peyronie’s disease is characterized by the hardened tissue in the penis. When tissue hardens this is also known as plaque. When plaque builds in the top or bottom of the penis, it can cause distortion and curvature of the penis when it is erect. It could also cause the penis to appear shorter or to have an indentation.
Diagnosis Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is diagnosed by a medical professional. Usually a complete medical history will be taken and you will be fully questioned on the circumstances that led up to the symptoms, if they are known.
Your doctor would feel the penis for plaque, and may erect the penis by injecting medication to complete the examination. The penis would need to be erect for the physician to observe any deformities of the penis.
An X-ray may be given to see the plaque build-up in the penis.
In the event Peyronie’s disease was rapidly developed, your doctor may need to do a biopsy of the hardened tissue to rule out cancer.
Treating the Disease
In less than 15% of Peyronie’s disease cases, the disease will resolve itself. There are not many treatment options for Peyronie’s disease, as little is still known about the disease and its causes.
The only highly effective treatment option for Peyronie’s disease is surgery. Since it may resolve itself, other options are usually explored for a period of time before surgery is settled on.
Often treatment is only given to help reduce any pain associated with the disease. It is important that treatment for Peyronie’s disease begins at least within six months of the first onset of symptoms, before the hardened tissue has had a chance to calcify.
Treatments for Peyronie’s disease are not deemed totally effective at eliminating or even reducing the amount of hardened tissue or plaque in the penis if they are administered after six months of the onset of symptoms. At this point, treatment is used to alleviate pain and help try to prevent further plaque from building up in the penis.
Possible treatment includes taking calcium channel-blocking medications, Vitamin E supplements, and possibly steroids.
In severe cases surgery is the last option for treatment, and is generally only an option after other methods have failed. Surgery for Peyronie’s disease includes excising the hardened tissue and replacing with a skin graft. If there is a curvature, a penile implant may be required.
Risk Factors and Long-Term Effects
Men who have had a family member diagnosed with Peyronie’s disease are more likely to develop the disease. Though it can be found in any age, it is most common in men between the ages of 40 and 70.
In severe cases of Peyronie’s disease, a man may become impotent, especially if there is tissue hardening in more than one area of the penis. They may also develop an incomplete erection, meaning only part of the penis would become erect.