What Is Curved Penis or Peyronie's Disease?

A Physical Deformity of the Penis

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Peyronie’s disease, known as curved penis, is an acquired physical deformity of the penis. Francois Gigot de la Peyronie was a court physician for King Louis XV of France in the 1700s. He first wrote about the condition and as such, it has carried his name for the last 300 years.


Curved penis is most often caused by a plaque in the fibrous coating of the penile erectile bodies that causes a curvature or a constriction of erections. Most men develop the condition spontaneously while a few men will remember a physically traumatic sexual experience that caused the penis to bend forcibly and often painfully.


The patient usually makes the diagnosis of Peyronie’s when he notices his penis is bent with erections. Some men will develop overnight severe curvature, some men will take months to develop the deformity. When erect, most men curve upwards, right or left. Few curve downwards. Some men will notice their penis has a hinge defect, an hourglass deformity or have a severe narrowing of the penis as it extends outward.

The disease can be painful, especially in the first few months of development. Specialists divide the disease into two categories: acute and chronic. The acute phase can last up to a couple of years but most men evolve into the chronic phase in the first year or so after noticing the curvature.

Along with curvature, most men will notice loss of penile length, sometimes dramatic. Some men claim losing up to half of their former erect penis length. Penile shortening occurs because the thick fibers of the penis are usually elastic and stretch with blood flow and erection. Once scar tissue replaces the elastic fibers, the penis can no longer stretch with erection, and men find themselves with a smaller erect penis.

Curved penis is a psychologically traumatic condition that lowers men’s self-esteem, inhibits normal sexual function and frequently stresses relationships. Severity of the disease depends on how bothered a man is by this condition. Some men have a bend of over 90 degrees and are unable to penetrate their partner. Some men have a much less severe bend but are so bothered by the changed appearance of their penis that they avoid sex.

If a man doesn't have a partner, he may hesitate to find one, afraid to divulge his condition. Over the last 15 years, erectile dysfunction (ED) has become a household word. Celebrity spokesmen proclaimed their ED on national television and normalized the condition. This empowered a generation of men to seek treatment. But Peyronie’s disease has no celebrity spokesman. It is a disease, for the most part, suffered in silence.

Seeking Treatment

If you or someone you know suffers from Peyronie’s, seek out a urologist, a physician specializing in sexual dysfunction, to evaluate you or your partner. Diagnosis consists of a series of questions exploring how long the man has noticed the condition and how much does it bother or hinder him. A physical exam will focus on the penis where most often, the doctor will palpate a thickened plaque, usually on the top of the penis. It may or may not be tender.

Some doctors will measure the penis, both length and circumference. Peyronie’s specialists will usually get an ultrasound of the penis to evaluate the blood flow to the penis, induce an erection to measure the degree of curvature and note if there is calcification within the plaque.

Treatment depends on duration and severity of the disease.

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