Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease

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Doctor checking patient at clinic

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Peyronie's disease affects the tissues of the penis, causing curvature. In addition to curvature of the penis, Peyronie's can also cause pain during intercourse, difficulty with sex, and distress or depression. Usually, the symptoms of Peyronie's disease are only present when the penis is fully or partially erect.

Frequent Symptoms

Most of the major symptoms of Peyronie's disease are physical. However, changes in a person's erection can also lead to sexual or psychological dysfunction. Both types of symptoms can be addressed with treatment.

Not all cases of Peyronie's disease require treatment and, other than curvature, many symptoms improve with time.

Curvature of the Penis

This is, by far, the most common symptom of Peyronie's disease. Curving of the penis is caused by the growth of plaques or scars in the fibrous tissue that surrounds the erectile bodies—the tunica albuginea.

These hardened areas are less flexible, and the penis bends towards them as it becomes erect. The extent of curvature of the penis depends on the number, position, and size of the plaques. Plaques may not yet have formed in men who have active disease, which is why their penises do not appear curved.

Unfortunately, in order for physicians to observe curvature directly, the penis must be erect. As such, doctors may use an intercavernosal injection test to cause an erection in the office setting.

Pain During Erection

Pain during arousal and intercourse is not uncommon during the early, active stage of Peyronie's. This pain usually decreases with time, as the scarring in the penis becomes stable. Pain should generally go away over the course of a year, and curvature should also stabilize after that period of time.

Difficulties with Erection and Sex

Often Peyronie's causes difficulty getting or sustaining an erection. Erectile dysfunction may be the result of pain or caused by deformities of the penis.

Problems with sex can occur if the penis becomes curved in a way that makes penetration difficult to achieve or painful, both for the person with Peyronie's or their sexual partner. They may also be the result of changes in self-image and other signs of stress.

Shortening of the Penis

Just as scar tissue on one side of the penis makes it difficult for that area to stretch—causing a bend—scar tissue on both sides of the penis, or through the penis, may cause the penis to become shorter. Shortening of the penis is more likely to happen if there is extensive scarring.

Active Disease Versus Stable Disease

Peyronie's disease is classified as either active disease or stable disease.

With active disease, the main symptom is penile pain with or without an erection. There may be problems with erectile function. Deformity may or may not yet be visible.

With stable disease, symptoms have not changed for at least three months. Usually, there is no pain, or only mild pain, when the penis is flaccid. There is noticeable curvature when the penis is erect.

Rare Symptoms

In rare cases, men with Peyronie's disease may no longer be able to engage in any sexual penetration. However, treatment can often help restore at least some sexual function to even men with significant functional impairment and extreme penile curvature.

Complications

Most of the complications of Peyronie's disease are psychological. Stress and depression are common reactions to changes in sexual function as well as shortening of the penis.

These symptoms can cause some patients with Peyronie's disease to feel as though there is an issue with their masculinity. This is particularly a problem for those individuals for whom the size and function of their penis is a core part of their identity.

It's worth pointing out that sometimes the sexual side effects of Peyronie's disease may be more related to stress than they are to the disease itself.

Research suggests that erectile dysfunction may be more linked to how bothered people are by their symptoms than by the symptoms themselves. Therefore, if you have Peyronie's disease, it's important to find someone to talk to.

A good therapist can provide a safe place for you to explore how you are reacting to your penile curvature, as well as how it is affecting your life. Being able to come to terms with the new shape of your penis will likely help you feel better and improve your sexual function.

That said, if your Peyronie's disease is affecting your sex life, it may also good idea to speak with a sex therapist. Sex therapists are specially trained in dealing with sexual health problems, and they can work with you and your partner to find ways to make your sex life less stressful and more pleasurable.

For example, for some people, taking the emphasis off of intercourse can allow for more enjoyable sexual exploration. And for some people with Peyronie's disease, reducing the stress associated with how the disease impacts their own sexual expectations may allow them to get rid of those expectations and return to the enjoyment of penetrative sex.

When to See a Doctor

Some treatments for Peyronie's disease are most effective early in the disease process before there is any visible penile curvature. Therefore, if you are experiencing pain during erection, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a urologist.

This is particularly true if you have experienced recent trauma to the penis. This may have been noticeable as a sharp pain during sex or unusual swelling.

Any new pain with erection is worth getting checked out. The same is true if you suddenly have more difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

There may be things your doctor can do to help, even if you don't have Peyronie's disease.

If you notice a new curve to your penis, that's also worth talking to a doctor about. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may suggest that you give your condition time to stabilize before you try any treatment or other intervention. For many men with minimal curvature, no pain, and no difficulty with sex, treatment is not indicated.

If you have previously been diagnosed with Peyronie's disease and your curve has become worse, gotten more painful, or started to make sex difficult, you may want to check in with your doctor again. Although many of the more invasive treatments are not used until after your condition has stabilized, your doctor will want to know if your symptoms are getting worse.

You should also check in with your doctor if your curve has stabilized in a way that is making sex difficult or painful for you or your sexual partner(s). That's the point at which more invasive treatment options can start to make sense.

A Word From Verywell

If you have Peyronie's disease, don't panic. Peyronie's disease is not that uncommon.

Men with erectile dysfunction may also be at increased risk of Peyronie's disease. That's because a less rigid erection may be more susceptible to bending and injury during intercourse.

If you have symptoms of Peyronie's disease, talk to a doctor. Even if your symptoms aren't severe, that kind of talk can do wonders for your peace of mind. And if your symptoms do cause problems with your sex life or even your self-image? A doctor can help you with that too.

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