Peyronie’s Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
Peyronie’s disease is a condition which results in the development of scar tissues (also called plaques) inside the penis. It obstructs the healing feature of the body and causes a curve in the penis. The bend is caused due to the tissue and it may result in pain for some patients.
Some patients of this disease also suffer from anxiety and stress as they are unable to keep a healthy sexual lifestyle. It is due to their inability to maintain an erection as the condition can result in erectile dysfunction in some men. At times, this disease goes away on its own without requiring any treatment. But in the majority of cases, treatment is needed to cure the condition and to prevent it from worsening.
Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease:
The primary symptom is the curving of the penis. The direction of the curvature depends on the location of the plaques which may cause the penis to bend sideways, downward, or upward. The symptoms involved with this disease are:
- Plaques(scar tissue): These may feel like flat lumps or band of hard tissue, which are developed under the skin of the penis.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Men with this disease may also find it difficult to maintain erections, which is a condition also known as Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
- Shortening of the penis: This disease can also result in shortening of the penis.
- Pain: Some patients experience pan with or without an erection, or during orgasms. This pain can go away within a few months without opting for any treatment, or in some cases, it may require proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Bend to the penis: There is a bend to the penis, which is one of the major symptoms that is noticed by the patient. The bend depends on the location of the scar tissues.
Causes of Peyronie’s disease:
The exact causes for the condition are not yet known. It is most likely to be caused due to damage to the small blood vessels, which may occur during sex or due to an accident. Cells can become trapped during the healing process, resulting in scar tissue formation. These scars tissue form the plaque of Peyronie’s disease. In other words, this disease is mainly a result of a problem that is stopping the body from healing the wounds.
As concluded by various researches, this condition can also be a result of genetic or environmental reasons. Some other health issues such as high blood pressure, use of tobacco, past pelvic trauma, may also lead to this condition.
Though minor injuries can be the cause of this disease, it doesn’t always lead to Peyronie’s disease. There are various other factors that can stop the body from proper wound healing. A person may not be able to control these factors, but they can play a major role in being the cause of this condition. The risk factors associated with the disease are:
- Heredity: If any other blood relative has been diagnosed with Peyronie’s disease, there’s a higher risk of developing the condition.
- Connective tissue disorder: Men with this disorder are prone to a higher risk of suffering from this disease.
- Age: The disease becomes common in men above 55.
How is the disease diagnosed?
- Physical exam: The doctor diagnosis the condition by feeling the penis when it’s not erect to check for the amount of scar tissue that has accumulated. Measurements can also help in determining if the penis has shortened.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound test can also be performed which uses sound waves to produce images of soft tissues. It can help in determining the abnormalities with the penis.
After diagnosing the symptoms, the doctor may use the wait-and-see approach if the symptoms are not severe. If the case is serious, the doctor will recommend one of the available treatment options according to the level of severity and duration of the condition. The treatment options usually available are:
Most of the medications used in the treatment have not been effective in curing the disease. In some cases, drugs are also injected into the penis that helps in reducing the pain and curvature due to the disease. Multiple injections over a duration of several months along with oral drugs may also be used for proceeding with the treatment. The medications used for the purpose include:
- Collagenase: Collagenase clostridium histolyticum (Xiaflex) is the only FDA-approved medication for Peyronie’s disease to use in adult men to treat moderate to severe curvature.
- Verapamil: It is primarily used for treating high blood pressure. It disrupts the production of collagen, which is the key factor in the development of Peyronie’s disease. The drug helps in reducing the pain as well.
2. Lifestyle changes:
Some lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) associated with Peyronie’s disease. These changes include reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly.
Surgery is the final option that the doctor exercises for the treatment. Usually, there’s a wait for at least one year before considering the surgery option. Surgical solutions include shortening the unaffected side, lengthening the scar tissue side, or a penile implant. The preferred method is decided based on the condition. Different people may require different methods to cure the condition.
There is another technique called iontophoresis, which uses electric current to administer a combination of verapamil and a steroid through the skin. Though it is still under research as this procedure has shown conflicting results. Other nondrug treatments are also under research currently to reduce the side effects and the effectiveness of the treatment. These procedures include sound wave therapy and radiation therapy.