What is Peyronie's Disease?
Peyronie's disease is a condition where the penis bends. The bend is most apparent during an erection. This condition can be painful and can be difficult to treat. Peyronie's disease is thought to occur in about one per cent of the male population and although it is most common between the ages of 45 to 60 it can happen in the young and the elderly. Because men, in general, tend not to seek medical attention unless the condition is severe, it is a condition that is probably under reported.
Signs and Symptoms of Peyronie's Disease
The onset of signs of the Peyronie's disease can be sudden or slow and can vary in severity.
Curvature of the penis is often associated with accompanying pain as the penis becomes increasingly distorted. A bend in the penis, usually at the top of the shaft causes an upward bend. Curvatures can also appear at the bottom of the penis shaft causing a downward bend. Most angulations are up or down.
In rare cases hardening of tissue can occur on the top and the bottom and if this happens the penis may shorten. The hardening of the tissue is in an area called the tunica albuinea, the sheath surrounding the erectile tissue. Unfortunately in some men this condition can cause impotence or an incomplete erection.
Causes of Peyronie's Disease
The cause of Peyronie's disease is unknown but there are a number of factors that are important.
- Injury. Peyronie's disease can develop following trauma or injury to the penis. Injury may happen during very vigorous sexual intercourse, forceful bending of the penis can cause tissue tearing and scarring. The injury may be as a result of a medical procedure, e.g. catheterization in which a tube (the catheter) is passed into the bladder to pass urine, or cystoscopy, when the surgeon looks into the bladder following a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland).
- Inherited abnormality. It is thought that there is a genetic component to this condition. Peyronie's disease is more common in men with family members who also have the condition or who have a disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (a connective tissue disorder). Thirty per cent of men with Peyronie's disease also develop a condition called Dupuytren's contracture where hardened tissue develops in the hands.
- Vitamin E deficiency has been associated with the Peyronie's disease.
- Peyronie's disease is a rare side effect of an antihypertensive drug called Inderal (propanolol).
- Diabetes. Diabetes-related damage to the blood vessels in the penis has been associated with Peyronie's disease.
- Infection. Inflammation in cases of severe vasculitis further suggests a vascular (blood vessels) cause for Peyronie's disease.