How to Prevent Peyronie's Disease

A curved or bent penis can cause painful erections and be permanent

There are no guaranteed suggestions for how to prevent Peyronie’s disease (PD)—a condition in which scar tissue inside the penis causes curved, painful erections. Scientists do not know exactly what causes it. But since trauma to the penis is thought to contribute, avoiding injuries to the penis may help.

You may, then, be able to prevent Peyronie's disease, or at least reduce your risk of it, by avoiding vigorous or "rough" sex, wearing an athletic cup during contact sports, and taking other steps that protect the penis.

This article describes the causes and risk factors of Peyronie's disease and ways to possibly reduce your risk of this surprisingly common penis disorder.

Gender Definitions

For the purpose of this article, "male" refers to people born with penises irrespective of the gender or genders they identify with.

What Is Peyronie's Disease?

Peyronie's disease is a condition in which areas of scar tissue, called plaques, develop on the thick, elastic membrane covering the inner shaft of the penis. The membrane, called the tunica albuginea, supports the penis during an erection, keeping it rigid and in a relatively straight position.

Over time, as plaques accumulate, they can pull on surrounding tissues and cause the tunica albuginea to buckle—sometimes spontaneously—leading to an abnormal bend or curve of the erect penis.

The curve can make erections painful and sexual intercourse difficult to impossible. Peyronie's disease can also cause erectile dysfunction (ED) by damaging valves inside blood vessels that keep the blood trapped in the penis during an erection.

In severe cases, Peyronie's disease can cause pain and discomfort even when the penis is soft (flaccid). The erect penis size may also be markedly shorter or narrower around the site of the bend.

Causes of Peyronie's Disease

Peyronie's disease is not contagious. It is not sexually transmitted, nor something you can otherwise get from someone else. While that is established, no one knows the exact cause of Peyronie's disease and why some males get it and others don't.

It is thought that genetics may predispose certain people to the disorder, in part because white males are more likely to get PD than males of other races. Even so, no specific gene has been linked to Peyronie's disease, and all males can—and sometimes do—get it, typically after the age of 40.

Beyond genetics, there are two possible explanations for why some males get PD:

  • Penile injury: This not only involves accumulative damage that can occur from "rough" sex or repetitive trauma, but also incidents like penile fractures or penile surgeries that can undermine the stability of the tunica albuginea.
  • Autoimmune disease: Peyronie's is more common in males with autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These types of diseases occur when the body's own immune system attacks normal tissues, including connective tissues. Some studies have shown that 75% of males with PD have evidence of an autoimmune disease.

Other factors can increase the risk of PD, including cigarette smoking, diabetes, and hypertension (high blood pressure). All three conditions can impair blood flow to the penis and starve tissues of the oxygen and nutrients they need to remain strong and stable.

How Common Is Peyronie's Disease?

Peyronie's disease is more common than many people think, since many cases go unreported. Current research suggests that the number of people with PD in the United States may well exceed 10%. That is roughly one in 25 males between the ages of 40 and 50, and around one in 15 males age 60 and over.

Peyronie's Disease Prevention Strategies

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), there is little evidence that any intervention can outright prevent Peyronie's disease. Despite what some people might tell you, diet and nutrition play no role in the prevention of PD.

This doesn't mean you can't reduce some of the risk factors associated with PD. Doing so may or may not prevent the disease in the end, but it will at the very least ensure that you have a healthier penis over the long term.

5 tips for protecting your penis from peyronies disease

Verywell / Laura Porter

Here are some measures you might consider:

  • Use a lubricant during sexual intercourse: Vaginal or anal sex without lubrication can place undue stress on the penis. A personal lubricant ("lube") can ease penetration and reduce the resistance of skin against skin.
  • Adjust your sexual position: Depending on your penis size and natural curve, as well as the anatomy of your partner, certain sexual positions can cause your penis to "bang" against bone and tissue. In such cases, try other positions that can give your partner pleasure without placing stress on the penis.
  • Treat erectile dysfunction: As males age, many have difficulty sustaining the same, rigid erection they had in their youth. As a semi-erect penis is more vulnerable to bending during sex, it may help to treat ED sooner than later with a PDE5 inhibitor like Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil). Speak with your healthcare provider.
  • Wear an athletic cup: An athletic cup is a solid plastic guard worn over the penis and scrotum to protect against groin injuries from contact sports. If engaging in contact sports like football, soccer, or rugby, you need more than a jock strap to prevent genital injuries.
  • Treat chronic conditions: Autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and hypertension are all linked to PD. While you can still get Peyronie's disease if you treat these conditions properly, the risk may be greater if you leave them untreated.
  • Stop smoking: Cigarette smoking causes vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood vessels) throughout the body. Quitting cigarettes is good for you for many reasons, including removing one of the factors that contribute to PD.
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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