About Peyronie’s disease
WHAT IS PEYRONIE’S DISEASE ?
Peyronie’s disease is a condition that causes the penis to become curved when it is erect due to a thickened area or a hard lump of plaque in the shaft of the organ.
Scar tissue forms in the tunica albuginea, the thin layer that surrounds the spongy erectile tissue (corpus cavernosum), and eventually develops into a hard lump.
The curve in the penis, to the left, the right or upwards, may make erections painful, and may make it difficult to have sex.
There are two stages of Peyronie’s disease. The first stage is the acute or active Peyronie’s stage, which usually lasts to 12 to 18 months. This is when most of the changes to the penis occur, i.e. the disease is progressing.
The second phase is the chronic or stable Peyronie’s stage, when the progression of the disease stops.
The disease is also known as Induratio Penis Plastica and more recently (CITA) Chronic Inflammation of Tunica Albuginea. It is sometimes called Bent Nail Syndrome. Peyronie’s disease is not contagious and cannot be passed on to anyone else.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Medical experts are still unsure about the cause of Peyronie’s disease, but they know that there is an increased deposition of collagen (firm tissue) in the tissue of the penis. Why this happens is not clear yet.
Trauma or injury: the most obvious reason for the scar tissue to develop is that there has been some kind of traumatic event or repeated injury, from being hit or bent into an unusual position, which has resulted in internal or external bleeding and subsequent scar tissue. Some men with Peyronie’s have no recollection of a traumatic incident, but it can occur during sexual activity without being obvious at the time.
Genetic link: it is thought that there may be a genetic link, especially as some men from the same family share the same problem. It may be passed down from parents but because of the personal nature of the condition, this may not be known about.
Medication: there are some medications that include Peyronie’s disease as a possible side-effect. However, there is no definitive evidence of a link with the disease. They include:
- Medication for high blood pressure – Inderal, propranolol tablets or beta blockers (also for heart conditions).
- Interferon prescribed for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Dilantin taken to control seizures.
WHO DOES IT AFFECT?
Usually middle-aged and older men, but it is possible for young men to get it too. It is difficult to be sure how many men get Peyronie’s disease, because not everyone seeks medical advice. However, it is believed to be around 1 in 20 men, and the typical age range is from around 45 to 65.
Dupuytren’s disease: There is a theory that Peyronie’s disease may be linked to sufferers of Dupuytren’s disease as 20% of men with Peyronie’s disease also have this condition.
Diabetes: Peyronie’s disease is more common in men who have diabetes, as is erectile dysfunction. It is also the case that diabetes impacts on Peyronie’s disease making it more serious. This is largely due to the effect of diabetes on vascular status. Diabetes mellitus is associated with severe Peyronie’s disease.
Associated conditions: Other associated conditions include erectile dysfunction, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and low testosterone.
For a list of possible risk factors for Dupuytren’s, Peyronie’s and Ledderhose click here.
WHY IS IT CALLED PEYRONIE’S DISEASE?
The name of the condition comes from the French surgeon, Francois Gigot de la Peyronie, surgeon to King Louis XV, who first described the condition in medical literature in 1743. You can read more in our history section
WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE?
Other conditions should be ruled out including sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and cancer. See our Frequently Asked Questions page.