What Is Penile Traction Therapy?

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Penile traction therapy is a type of physical therapy that can be used to treat a curved or shrunken penis that happens due to Peyronie’s disease, which causes a curved or shortened erection. This can make it painful or difficult to have sexual intercourse. 

In recent years, penile traction therapy has been shown to help people with Peyronie's disease return to a more typical penis shape. The therapy involves using a penis traction device, similar to a brace, that holds the penis straight or at an angle for a set amount of time.

It’s important to remember that having some curvature to the penis is entirely normal. If your penis has always been curved or is of a normal length, there is no need for a penile traction device. However, for people with Peyronie's disease or a shorter-than-average penis, penis traction can restore lost length and sudden curving. 

This article discusses how penile traction therapy works.

man consulting with healthcare provider

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What Is Peyronie’s Disease?

Peyronie’s disease causes scar tissue—also known as plaques—to form beneath the skin of the penis. These areas of scar tissue are rigid and inflexible, so they’re not able to expand the same way that normal erectile tissue does. Because of this, the penis curves (sometimes toward the area of the plaques) when it becomes erect. If the plaques occur on both sides of the penis, a person might experience shorter erections than they had before they had Peyronie's disease.  

The causes of Peyronie’s disease aren’t well understood. In most cases, there is no known trauma to the penis that would cause scar tissue to form. Rather, the scar tissue is thought to be caused by small, unnoticeable injuries to the penis (microtrauma).

People who have other health conditions may be at an increased risk for Peyronie's disease, including those with:

People who are older than 40 years old also have an increased risk for Peyronie's disease.

How Common Is Peyronie's Disease?

Research has shown that between 3% to 8% of people with penises have Peyronie's disease, but the rate could actually be much higher since people are wary of seeking medical attention for the disease.

Peyronie's disease can make it difficult to enjoy sex. It can cause pain during erections, or the inability to have penetrative sex. That, in turn, can lead to mental and emotional complications like:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

How Penis Traction Works

Penis traction therapy uses a penis traction device to hold the flaccid penis straight or at a specified angle. This is also sometimes known as penis stretching.

People who are undergoing penile traction therapy should follow a specific plan provided by their doctor. Generally, the therapy involves wearing a penile traction device for at least 30 minutes a day, up to six hours a day.

Penis Traction Devices

To try penile traction therapy, you’ll need a traction device. There are many brands of traction devices available, so it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider about which one they recommend for you. 

In general, traction devices work in the same way. A pelvic ring is placed at the base of the penis, with the shaft inserted through the ring. The tip of the penis is clamped firmly into the other end of the traction device. Extension rods between those two pieces allow the wearer to gently stretch their penis.

Devices designed to treat people with Peyronie's disease also include the option to rotate the penis.

If you are using penile traction therapy to treat curvature caused by Peyronie's disease, you should rotate your penis in the opposite direction of how it normally curves during an erection. Be sure to talk with your doctor about specifics.  

Penis Traction Therapy Timeline

In order to see results from penis traction therapy, you need to use the device consistently. That means wearing the traction device for at least 30 minutes a day, or the amount that your doctor and the device manufacturer recommend.

Most studies that have been done on penile traction therapy involve a large time commitment of multiple hours a day for up to six months.

Does Penile Traction Therapy Work?

Penile traction therapy has been shown to help increase penis length and decrease the curve of the penis. Here are the results that researchers have found:

  • In a study of 55 men with Peyronie’s disease, men wore a traction device for an average of 4.6 hours a day for 6 months. They reduced their curvature by an average of 20 degrees. They also reduced their pain and increased their flaccid penis length.
  • In a study of 41 men with Peyronie’s disease, participants wore a traction device daily for a 12-week period. The men who wore the device for more than 6 hours a day saw their curvature decrease by an average of 38 degrees. The men who wore the device for less than 4 hours a day saw their curvature decrease by an average of 20 degrees.

In all these studies, people needed to commit to wearing the traction device for long periods each day in order to see results. 

A Word From Verywell

Penile traction therapy can have a big impact on people with Peyronie's disease. It can lead to some increased length, but more importantly, it can counteract the severe curving of the penis that is a primary symptom of the disease. People with Peyronie's disease who have tried penile stretching have had decreased pain and increased sexual functioning, studies show. 

However, penile traction therapy requires a large time commitment. To see results, studies indicate that a traction device must be worn for hours every day. 

If you are concerned about your penis length or the curve of your penis, talk to a healthcare provider about whether penile traction therapy is right for you.

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  1. Chung, Eric. Penile traction therapy and Peyronie’s disease: a state of art review of the current literature. Therapeutic Advances in Urology. Feb. 2013. doi:10.1177/1756287212454932