Doctors do not know definitively what causes Peyronie’s disease, but medical experts think that the two most common things that can lead to this syndrome are:
- Autoimmune disease. The immune system of a man with a connective tissue or autoimmune disorder might attack the organ at a cellular level. This attack can cause scar tissue from inflammation. The scar tissue can eventually become plaque.
- Repeated micro-injuries or an acute injury to the penis. An acute injury is a one-time event, for example, an injury when playing contact sports without an athletic protector. Repeated micro-injuries can happen without the man noticing any harm or discomfort. These injuries usually happen during sexual activity, from hitting the penis against a hard surface, like the partner’s pubic bone.
With either causing factor, the scar tissue from the injury or autoimmune attack can become plaque under the skin of the organ. When the plaque builds up, this scar tissue will pull on the tissue around it, making the organ bend when the man has an erection. With extreme curvature, it can be painful to have an erection. Peyronie’s disease can make it too painful or difficult to engage in sexual intercourse.
Peyronie’s disease is not the result of a transmittable disease. Also, you cannot “catch” Peyronie’s disease from someone else.
The plaque involved with Peyronie’s disease is not cancerous, and It is not the kind of plaque that a person can develop in the arteries and is not a tumor.
The Stages of Peyronie’s Disease
There are two phases of Peyronie’s disease – an acute stage and a chronic stage.
- Acute stage. During the acute phase, the injury happens, and scar tissue begins developing. The plaque can cause pain even when the man does not have an erection. Curvature of the penis starts to develop, and it can eventually become painful to have an erection. This stage can last for up to a year and a half.
- Chronic stage. The chronic phase typically begins about a year to a year and a half after the initial symptoms, after the scar tissue develops. Often, the condition stays at a certain degree and does not get worse. The patient can develop or experience increased problems with erectile dysfunction, although the pain sometimes decreases in this stage.
With an extremely mild case of Peyronie’s disease, the condition might eventually go away on its own, but these situations are rare.
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Risk Factors for Peyronie’s Disease
You might have an increased likelihood of developing Peyronie’s disease if you:
- Have a connective tissue disorder like Dupuytren’s disease (a condition in which the connective tissue in the hands causes the finger to bend permanently, also called Dupuytren’s contracture), plantar fasciitis (painful inflammation in the arch of the foot), or scleroderma (pain and swelling in muscles and joints from abnormal patches of connective tissue).
- Have an autoimmune condition, such as Behçet’s disease (which involves inflammation of blood vessels), Sjögren’s syndrome (the glands that make saliva and tears become inflamed and damaged), or systemic lupus erythematosus tissues like the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, blood vessels, joints, and skin become damaged from inflammation).
- Are older. The incidence of Peyronie’s goes up as a man gets older.
- Other men, in your family, like your father or brother, have this disease. Doctors suspect that there might be a genetic component to this condition.
- Engage in vigorous athletic or sexual activity that puts the penis at risk of micro-injuries or an acute injury.
- Have erectile dysfunction related to diabetes. Men in this situation are four to five times more likely than the average man of developing Peyronie’s.
- Had surgery for prostate cancer, particularly if you developed erectile dysfunction after the operation.
As researchers learn more about Peyronie’s, they might find additional causes and risk factors.
Complications of Peyronie’s Disease
A man suffering from Peyronie’s disease might experience these complications:
- Erectile dysfunction
- The curvature of the penis prevents sexual intercourse.
- Inability to father a child through intercourse
- Stress in intimate relationships
- Anxiety, depression, and emotional distress from how the penis looks or functions.
Successful treatments can alleviate these problems. Every man responds differently to therapy for Peyronie’s disease.
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Peyronie’s Disease Symptoms
The indications of Peyronie’s disease can vary from one man to the next. The signs can range from mild to severe and can develop suddenly or gradually. Often, the pain will eventually lessen, but the curvature remains.
A man with Peyronie’s disease might have:
- A curve in the penis, either when flaccid or erect or both
- Erectile dysfunction
- The penis could become shorter or narrower.
- Hard lumps can develop on one side or multiple areas of the organ.
- Sexual intercourse or erections can be painful.
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Treatments for Peyronie’s Disease
According to Mayo Clinic, there are several Peyronie’s disease treatments, including:
- Medications, which have not shown to be “consistently effective”
- Surgery, which can include suturing the long side of the penis, grafting, or implants. Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases or those that keep the person from having sex.
- Traction therapy, i.e., stretching the penis with a self-applied mechanical device
There is also a painless, effective, non-invasive treatment available: GAINSWave® therapy. The 30-minute in-office treatment is attractive with little downtime and effectively no side effects. By using high-frequency, low-intensity sound waves to break down scar tissue, men are achieving relief from Peyronie’s disease.
HealthGAINS Can Help Treat Your Peyronie’s Disease
A HealthGAINS provider can diagnose Peyronie’s disease during an office examination. At HealthGAINS, we help men recover sexual function with our treatments for Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction. You can talk to one of our professional advisers at no charge. Call us today at (305) 682-1818 to get started.