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Do you suffer from Peyronie’s Disease?

What is Peyronie’s disease?
Despite Peyronie’s disease being relatively unknown, it is surprisingly common and is thought to affect around 5% of the male population. Peyronie’s disease usually appears as a hard lump or lesion (often referred to as a ‘plaque’) on either the upper or lower side of the penis in the layers which envelope erectile tissue. The disease normally affects middle aged men but it can occur at younger and older ages. There is also evidence to suggest that men with blood group A+ may be more susceptible to this condition.

The symptoms of Peyronie’s disease will depend on where the plaque is located. If the scarring is located towards the top of the penis shaft, this will cause the penis to curve upwards when erect. Conversely, if the plaque is underneath, the penis will bend downwards. Either way, in the more advanced cases of the disease, pain will occur when the penis is erect and during sexual intercourse. If a plaque forms on both sides of the penis, the disease can manifest itself as indentations on, or the shortening of, the penis.

What are the real causes of Peyronie’s disease?
First and foremost, Peyronie’s disease is NOT cancer. The plaque is benign and not a tumour. Equally, the lesion has no connection with plaques that form in arteries. The disease isn’t caused by a transmittable condition and is, therefore, not contagious.

The likely cause of Peyronie’s disease is an injury to the penis shaft which results in local bleeding and damage to the elastic lining of the organ tissue. In some cases, as the injury heals, calcified, fibrous tissue forms creating the plaque and the subsequent problems. It’s thought the complaint does have some level of family tendency.

How can I treat Peyronie’s disease?
Symptoms in a mild form of Peyronie’s disease will typically abate in six to eighteen months. However, for some sufferers, the disease can be incapacitating because of painful erections, penile deformity or problems attempting sexual intercourse. The treatments available for the disease have varying levels of success and largely depend on patient type. They include:

  • Taking Vitamin E supplements. There has been some limited success taking Vitamin E but to date this hasn’t achieved any significant long-term results.
  • Plaque injections using chemical agents such as Verapamil (also available as a cream). This, again, has had an effect in some patients but larger trials have concluded no significant reduction of the problem.
  • Collagen-reducing enzymes, such as Xiaflex, have shown some promising results in breaking down hard collagen within the plaque. These drugs are still currently in-trial and therefore unapproved.
  • Radiation therapy does, in some cases, help reduce pain but has no noticeable effect on the scarring.
  • Removal of the plaque – or ‘pinching’ the skin on the opposite side of the plaque to reduce curvature, through surgery is an option some sufferers will opt for particularly if the condition has settled in for the long-term (usually after one year). The resulting surgery, however, can lead to a shortening of the penis or even a reduction in erectile function.
  • Physical therapy using a penis extender or traction device is an alternative to surgery. Manual stretching methods apply gentle pressure along the length of the penis where the plaque is located. (For more detail see How Penis Extenders Work) Studies have shown this less intrusive procedure does help reduce the amount of penis curvature or can simply prevent it getting worse. Whilst the penis extender is currently under review as the first port of call for doctors treating the disease, it is becoming a preferred option to surgery. The availability of penis extenders (SizeGenetics) allows men to self-administer the treatment and observe any improvement in their own condition.
  • Prevention is better than cure, right?
    The trauma which is thought to cause Peyronie’s disease often occurs during sexual activity; although the victim rarely knows any damage has occurred at the time. One thing to be avoided though is the use of beta blocker drugs which all display Peyronie’s disease as a possible side effect to taking them.

    It still seems we are missing a truly effective treatment?
    Treatments for Peyronie’s disease either have minimal efficacy or possible undesirable side effects, including the surgical procedures. The use of penis extenders or traction devices in the treatment of the disease is still a hot debate but it is a method that has already provided relief for many men who suffer.