Peyronie’s disease affects an estimated 1 to 23% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 years old. The risks for getting Peyronie’s disease increases with age, although it has been reported in men as young as 30. It’s a disorder that starts with swelling and inflammation, which leads to scar tissue developing in the penis. The scar tissue, sometimes called plaque, can form anywhere in the penis but is most commonly found on the top or the bottom. The plaque causes the penis to bend, which in turn can cause pain during an erection and either make having intercourse painful - or even impossible.
Peyronie’s disease is not contagious, and the plaque that forms in the penis is noncancerous. Early medical researchers believe Peyronie’s disease was erectile dysfunction, a condition when a man is unable to achieve or keep an erection hard enough to have sexual intercourse. Today, researchers have learned that while 80% of men with Peyronie’s disease experience problems with erectile dysfunction, they are not the same disorder. Usually, men who have Peyronie’s disease will be referred to a urologist for Peyronie’s treatment.
Possible Causes of Peyronie’s Disease
The medical community is not sure what causes Peyronie’s Disease, but it is thought to be related to injuries to the penis, either a one-time traumatic event or repeated injuries from bending or hitting the penis.
Medical researchers believe that if the penis is bent or hit, the internal tissues may become damaged and develop scar tissue. Penis injuries could occur during vigorous sex, from an accident, or during athletic activities. Injuries to the penis rupture the tiny blood vessels inside, which bleed, swell, and then block the flow of blood within the tissues of the penis. The blood isn’t flowing normally in the penis, and blood clots can form. As the injury begins to heal, the immune system may release substances in the process of healing that forms too much scar tissue, creating the plaque inside the penis. The plaque prevents the normal elasticity of the tissues and limits flexibility, which in turn leads to the unnatural curvature of the penis that Peyronie’s disease sufferers experience.
Some researchers think Peyronie’s disease is part of an autoimmune disease. The immune system of a man with an autoimmune disease may attack the cells in the penis, leading to inflammation and scarring. The immune system is supposed identifying and destroying viruses, bacteria, and harmful foreign substances within the body, but an autoimmune disease can cause the immune system to attack itself or lead to health problems, including Peyronie’s disease.
Peyronie’s Disease Symptoms
Some men report developing Peyronie’s disease overnight, while others say the symptoms appear slowly over time. Symptoms vary in intensity and may include:
● Pain during erection
● Pain during intercourse or difficulty having intercourse
● Shortening and narrowing of the penis
● Hard lumps on top, bottom, or sides of penis
● Curvature of the penis with or without erection
● Erectile dysfunction
Some men experience the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease that go away on their own without causing a permanent curvature of the penis, while other men must seek treatment.
Who Are Most at Risk for Peyronie’s Disease?
In addition to men over the age of 40, there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing Peyronie’s disease, including:
● Having a family history of Peyronie’s disease
● Participating in vigorous activities, sexual or nonsexual, that cause microscopic injuries to the penis
● Having autoimmune disorders or connective tissue disorders
Common Peyronie’s Treatment Options
The most commonly prescribed treatment for Peyronie’s Disease is the same medications prescribed to men with erectile dysfunction since 80% of men diagnosed with Peyronie’s Disease also have erectile dysfunction. Oral medications for ED will help increase blood flow to the penis and promote harder longer-lasting erections, but the medicines won’t do anything to reduce the scar tissue or the curvature of the penis which causes painful erections or the inability to have successful sexual intercourse. If the symptoms become severe, oral ED medications will not be useful as the erections the medication causes will be a source of pain.
Some physicians may prescribe a topical medication that is applied to the skin of the penis. If referred to a urologist, you may also receive medications which are injected directly into the scar tissue within the penis.
For men with mild cases of Peyronie’s disease who are not experiencing painful erections, physicians may recommend lifestyle changes to see if there is an improvement in the symptoms or just to wait it out and see what happens. Sometimes Peyronie’s Disease will simply go away on its own. For individuals looking to try all-natural lifestyle changes to improve the symptoms before using other types of treatment options, it is recommended that you:
● quit smoking
● stop using all illegal drugs
● exercise on a regular basis
● reduce or eliminate alcohol
When men experience more severe symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease and haven’t responded to non-surgical treatment for more than twelve months, physicians may recommend surgical procedures. Surgery including placation, grafting, and penile prosthesis, has been the most effective and only treatment option in America for correcting the curvature of penises caused by Peyronie’s disease until shockwave therapy was introduced. Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical Peyronie’s Disease treatment option that has been used for treating Peyronie’s Disease and erectile dysfunction in Europe for decades and is now available in Arlington, Texas at the HealthWave Physicians Institute.
Shockwave Therapy: Modern Treatment for Peyronie’s Disease
While in the past it was common to get a prescription for ED to treat Peyronie’s disease, or to need surgical intervention for severe symptoms, now patients can seek shockwave therapy to treat Peyronie’s disease. HEALTHWave™ is a non-surgical technique using high frequency, low-intensity acoustical waves to treat Peyronie’s disease or erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis to help men stay hard longer. For Peyronie’s disease patients, it helps reduce the amount of scar tissue in the penis and return the penis functioning to normal.