Men's Health
Conditions and Diseases

What is Peyronies disease?


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Peyronie's disease, a condition of uncertain cause, is characterized by a plaque, or hard lump, that forms on the penis. The plaque develops on the upper or lower side of the penis in layers containing erectile tissue. It begins as a localized inflammation and can develop into a hardened scar.

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Peyronie's disease causes an uncommon sexual dysfunction that results in a bent penis during erection. The disease has hard, fibrous layer of scar tissue (plaque) that usually develops under the skin on the upper or lower side of the penis. When the penis is erect, the scar tissue pulls the affected area off at an angle, causing a curved penis and is noncancerous (benign).

Sometimes Peyronie's disease improves without treatment, so your doctor may initially recommend a wait-and-see approach. Other options for treatment of Peyronie's disease involve nonsurgical and surgical approaches.

Signs and symptoms

Painful erection A bend or curve in your penis during erection Inflammation under the skin of your penis that develops into hardened scar tissue A thick band of hard tissue on one or more sides of your penis Narrowing of the diameter of your penis during erection Impaired ability to obtain an erection (erectile dysfunction) Scar tissue that develops on the top of the penis will cause the penis to bend upward. Plaque on the underside of your penis will cause it to bend downward. More rarely, hardening may occur on both sides of the penis, causing indentation and shortening.

Peyronie's disease may decrease after a short period of time. However, the curvature may persist even if the pain subsides. In some men with a milder form of the disease, inflammation may improve without causing a lot of pain or permanent bending.

Causes can be from an injury to the penis, trauma or during intercourse may cause small tears in the tissue. It may also cause small blood vessels in the penis to rupture and bleed internally. Abnormal healing can result in the development of hard, thickened scar tissue (plaque) under the skin of the penis. A man's immune system may respond abnormally and cause plaque to form in the penis. Peyronie's disease isn't related to other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Some medications may list Peyronie's disease as a possible side effect. Most of these drugs belong to a class of blood pressure and heart medications called beta blockers. These drugs are also used to treat glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and seizures. Developing Peyronie's disease as a side effect of these drugs is rare. Check with your doctor before discontinuing any prescribed drug.

Age. Aging may diminish penile elasticity, increasing the chance of injury and the development of Peyronie's disease. Heredity may be an important factor in determining who acquires Peyronie's disease, although it's not the only factor. Some men with Peyronie's disease experience hardened tissues in other areas of the body, such as the hands or the feet. A condition known as Dupuytren's contracture, which is a cord-like thickening across the palm that causes the fingers to pull inward, also may be associated with Peyronie's disease.

See your doctor if you're unable to have intercourse without bothersome pain or difficulty due to a bend or curve in your penis during erection. Treatment for Peyronie's disease often consists of methods that will help you remain sexually active. Don't be embarrassed! It can happen to a lot of men and the sooner you see your doctor the more chance you have of leading a normal sex life.