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What is Peyronie's disease?

Peyronie's disease¹ is a condition affecting the penis that can present as a mild disease, causing very little discomfort or concern, or a debilitating disease, leading to pain, mental suffering, and an inability to have intercourse. 

Peyronie’s is common, with up to one in 11 men² experiencing the disease in their lifetime. 

Peyronie’s disease occurs when a plaque, or scar tissue, forms under the skin of the penis. The plaque can build up in the tunica albuginea, the connective tissue surrounding the outside of the corpora cavernosa. 

Normally, as the corpora cavernosa fills with blood to form an erection, the tunica albuginea holds the blood inside the penis, allowing an erection to hold its form and shape. 

Once the plaque has developed inside the penis, it pulls on the surrounding connective tissue of the tunica albuginea it is attached to, causing the penis to bend, resulting in the telltale symptoms of Peyronie’s disease. 

These curves and bends in the penis that are associated with Peyronie’s disease generally occur during an erection but sometimes occur in a flaccid penis, depending on the severity of the disease. 

Peyronie’s disease can also result in pain and discomfort as well as making sexual intercourse uncomfortable or even pretty much impossible — this tends to depend on the amount of curve and pain in the penis.

In most cases, Peyronie’s disease may stay in a consistent disease state, or the disease may worsen. Depending on if the disease is in the acute or chronic phase, other symptoms such as erectile dysfunction may be present. 

During the acute phase, when the disease is newly developing, some inflammation may occur as the plaque begins to develop, causing the penis to start to curve. This phase may sometimes be associated with pain during an erection, but it’s unlikely to have a big impact on the man’s sex life at that time. 

However, during the chronic phase, when the plaque has completely formed, the curve of the penis may stabilize or get worse, and pain during an erection or sexual intercourse may be more commonplace. During this phase, erectile dysfunction (ED) may develop or worsen. 

How does Peyronie's disease cause erectile dysfunction?

ED can be a mentally tiring and stressful experience, leading to feelings of anxiousness, depression, and often hopelessness about future sexual relationships. 

One possible symptom of Peyronie's disease is the development of ED. Peyronie’s disease-related ED can be caused in multiple ways. 

The development of plaque in the penis is the main way that Peyronie’s disease can cause ED. This plaque, which can often be felt as hard lumps, can impair blood flow into the penis. This blood flow is vital for an erection to occur, and the plaque limits the amount of blood needed for an erection. 

Additionally, the plaque buildup can force blood to leave the corpora cavernosa, making it difficult for an erection to be sustained. 

One other way that Peyronie’s can cause ED is due to the mental anguish that Peyronie’s disease can have on an individual. 

The mental stress, anxiety, and depression that stems from Peyronie’s disease may sometimes cause the man to experience a mental block, leaving him unable to obtain an erection.  

Symptoms

Peyronie’s disease is generally characterized by a curved or bent penis and can be self-diagnosed. However, some other symptoms may occur due to Peyronie’s disease. These are listed below: 

  • hard lumps on the penis caused by plaque under the skin

  • pain during an erection or sexual intercourse

  • narrowing or shortening of the penis

  • ED

If Peyronie’s disease becomes painful or causes mental anguish, you should always talk to a doctor about potential treatments that may be available. 

Causes

Peyronie’s disease has no one specific cause. However, some events, such as physical injury to the penis, may result in the development of Peyronie’s disease. 

Injuries from athletic events such as contact sports or sex have been documented as causes of Peyronie’s disease. 

Additionally, connective tissue disorders can result in the development of Peyronie’s disease. Thus, Peyronie’s disease can develop in some people who have never experienced the injury or event that can cause the disease’s development. 

Some patients may not know exactly how they contracted Peyronie’s disease depending on the risk factors. 

Risk factors

Peyronie’s disease has many risk factors that men may want to look out for. Listed below are some of the main risk factors that can result in Peyronie's disease: 

  • prostate surgery

  • connective tissue disorders such as Dupuytren’s contracture

  • family history

  • smoking

What happens if Peyronie's disease goes untreated?

It may be worthwhile to have Peyronie’s disease treated earlier rather than later to avoid the need for invasive treatments such as surgery later on. 

As Peyronie’s disease can negatively impact a man’s life, starting treatments earlier to avoid devastating consequences is always advisable. 

If left untreated for too long, Peyronie’s disease may result in severe mental and physiological consequences, leading to depression, mood swings, self-image issues, erectile dysfunction, and even the complete inability to have sexual intercourse. 

Is it safe for men with Peyronie’s disease to take Viagra?

It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor or GP before starting a new medication, and in almost all cases, caution should be taken. Research³ shows that taking Viagra will not worsen Peyronie’s disease or cause injury to the penis during sex, but it’s always good to be careful if you’re worried.

However, Viagra has been shown to potentially alleviate ED and mild curvature in patients with early-stage Peyronie’s disease. However, no concrete evidence of Viagra therapy being able to manage or cure Peyronie’s disease exists.

How does Viagra help Peyronie's disease?

Peyronie’s disease has many potential side effects, mainly curves and bends in the penis, pain, and ED. Although Viagra may not help all these symptoms, it can help the ED caused by Peyronie’s disease. 

By increasing the blood flow to the penis, it is possible for Viagra to ensure that an erection can occur, thereby allowing for improved sex life, potentially even enabling the man to have sexual intercourse without any interruptions. 

It has been shown that Viagra may be useful for treating the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease, such as scars and curvature. 

However, evidence of this is lacking, with very limited data to support this. In some animal studies,⁴ however, it was found that using PDE5 inhibitors, such as Viagra, may be beneficial to lower the collagen ratios in plaque buildup associated with Peyronie’s disease.  

Side effects of Viagra for Peyronie’s disease

All medications have side effects to look out for. Listed here are some of the mild and rare side effects that Viagra can cause: 

Mild side effects

  • dizziness

  • headaches

  • flushing

  • upset stomach 

  • vision changes, such as sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and difficulty distinguishing between blue and green colors 

Rare side effects 

  • fainting

  • nausea

  • vision loss

  • allergic reactions

  • hearing loss or ringing in the ears

  • erection lasting more than four hours 

Proven treatments for Peyronie's disease

Some treatments for Peyronie’s disease are very effective at ensuring an improved sex life. These treatments have advantages; however, some may have potentially unfavorable side effects. 

Here, the proven treatments are discussed. 

Surgery

One treatment for Peyronie’s disease is surgery. Many surgical procedures are possible. Thus, different surgical techniques may be used depending on the doctor’s advice and the extent of Peyronie’s disease. 

However, it is important to note that surgery isn’t generally recommended until Peyronie’s disease has been stabilized and is not in its progressive phase. 

To determine the best surgical technique for the situation, doctors consider the progression of the disease, the amount of plaque, and the severity of the curvature and bending. Ultrasound can also be used to determine the exact location of the plaque. 

Of course, all surgeries carry risks, and the selected procedure could worsen the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease. 

One surgical procedure is a technique called grafting. For this technique, a patch of tissue is taken from somewhere else on the body, such as the skin.

Alternatively, doctors may take a patch from a vein in the leg or use tissue from an organ donor. This tissue is then used to replace the plaque removed from the penis. 

This procedure straightens the penis and potentially even restores some length. However, numbness or ED may be a potential side effect of this surgery. 

Another possible surgery is plication. This is a surgical technique that requires a part of your tunica albuginea (the tough tissue around the corpora cavernosa) to be pinched from the opposite side of the plaque to straighten the penis. 

Although the loss of sensation and ED are less common with this procedure, plication cannot restore the length of the penis. The penis may even be shortened during the procedure.  

One other surgery for men with both Peyronie’s and ED is implantation, which involves an implant being inserted into the penis that allows the penis to be straightened during an erection. This implantation alone may not straighten the penis, so it may be performed in combination with another surgery. 

Shockwave therapy

Apart from invasive treatments like surgery, a non-invasive treatment called shockwave therapy is available. This treatment can break up the plaque in the penis to reverse the effects of Peyronie's disease. 

Shockwave therapy⁵ is a non-invasive treatment for Peyronie’s disease that involves low-intensity sound waves that work to alter the tissue causing Peyronie’s disease. Not only does shockwave therapy break up the plaque in the penis, but blood flow to the penis is also improved. 

This improved blood flow promotes the growth of new blood vessels, which may aid in the removal of the plaque in the penis. Shockwave therapy, therefore, not only reduces the curve or bend to the penis caused by Peyronie’s disease, but the pain and ED associated with Peyronie’s are also alleviated. 

Can these treatments also help cure ED?

Some of the treatments discussed above, specifically penis implantation and shockwave therapy, may be able to treat or cure ED. 

Anyone seeking treatment for Peyronie’s disease or ED should consult a doctor to determine the most appropriate approach. 

The lowdown

Peyronie’s disease can be detrimental to a man’s sex life and confidence. 

However, it no longer has to be this way, as treatments with Viagra, surgery or shockwave therapy may be effective and even lead to a cure.

Have you considered clinical trials for Erectile dysfunction?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Erectile dysfunction, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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