Peyronie's Disease vs. Normal Curvature – Symptoms, Causes, Differences

Peyronie’s Disease

It is characterized by the curvature of the penis and painful erections. PD is most often seen among men ages 40 or older. It affects around 9% percent of men around the age of 40 in the US.

PD may prevent intercourse and cause adverse impacts on partner relationships.

Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition include:

  • loss of girth of the penis;
  • the penis looking misshapen, like an hourglass;
  • shortening of the penis – the penis might become shorter as a result of the disease;
  • erection problems – it might cause problems getting or maintaining an erection;
  • pain in the penis, commonly during an erection;
  • a curve in the penis when it’s erect;
  • a thickened area or hard lump in the shaft of the penis.

Causes

Many doctors believe the plaque of PD can occur after the penis has been bent or hit, that causes bleeding inside the penis.

Masturbating with too much force can also cause damage, which may lead to scar tissue and then to a bend in the penis which wasn’t there, to begin with.

Because some cases of PD occur without injury, doctors believe there may be an immune system disorder which causes it in some cases.

Stages

PD is commonly split into 2 stages: the acute phase and the chronic phase.

Acute Phase

This stage is when most of the changes to the penis occur. However, these changes should stabilize during the chronic or stable Peyronie’s phase. It commonly lasts up to 12 to 18 months. At the end of this inflammatory phase, PD stabilizes.

Chronic Phase

In this phase, the plaque stops growing and the penis doesn’t bend any further. Also, during this stage, the plaque is more refractory to treatment and may start to develop large calcium deposits. The chronic phase begins at about 18 to 24 months after first symptoms.

Note – during both phases, the disease may cause problems with sex. Also, you may experience erectile dysfunction.

Complications

Complications of PD may include:

  • problems fathering a child as intercourse is difficult;
  • stress on a relationship with a sexual partner;
  • anxiety about the appearance of the penis or sexual abilities;
  • erectile dysfunction;
  • the inability to have sexual intercourse.

Diagnostic

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms. He will examine the penis, looking for tender areas of scar tissue.

Additionally, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound or X-rays to reveal the presence of scar tissue.

Treatment

Treatment options for the disease include:

Collagenase – this medication breaks down the build-up of the collagen (the main protein in the skin) which causes penile curvature.

Interferon alpha injections – they are used for PD treatment since they reduce the production of collagen. This medication is believed to disrupt the production of fibrous tissue.

Tamoxifen – it may reduce curvature, pain, and lump size in some suferrers.

Verapamil – it disrupts the production of collagen, the protein which forms the unwanted scar tissue.

Penile prosthesis implanted – only for men who have both PD and erectile dysfunction.

Surgical therapy – it is done when other treatments have failed or the sufferer is in the chronic stage of the PD and ED is part of the sufferer’s symptoms.

Shockwave therapy – it has been used on scaring which is calcified. It is done with a lithotripter device similar to those used to break up kidney stones.

Vitamin E – this antioxidant has been the subject of many studies, but, the general consensus is that vitamin E only improves pain during the acute phase.

Risk Factors

You have more chances of developing the condition:

  • if you have an autoimmune disorder;
  • if you are a middle-aged man and engage in more vigorous or frequent intercourse;
  • if you have plantar Ledderhose’s disease (a rare hyperproliferative disorder of the plantar aponeurosis);
  • if you have a connective tissue disorder called Dupuytren’s contracture (usually starts as small hard nodules just under the skin of the palm).

Normal Curvature

At normal temperatures, a non-erect penis commonly measures 9.1 centimeters (3.6 inches) from tip to base and 9.3 centimeters (3.7 inches) in circumference.

The average erect penis is approximately 13.2 centimeters (5.2 inches) in length and 11.7 centimeters (4.6 inches) in circumference.

Usually, an erect penis tends to have a slight curvature towards one side. Therefore, it is extremely common for a penis to be something other than straight (all above 10 degrees is considered straight).

Bottom Line – Peyronie’s Disease vs. Normal Curvature

It is totally normal for your penis to have a (moderate) curve. And, it turns out, a curved penis (according to some women) might even be a sexual advantage.

In conclusion, penises vary in size and shape, and having a curved erection is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, PD causes a substantial pain in some men, particularly if the curvature goes beyond a limit which is considered normal.

Remember, as long as intercourse, erection, and ejaculation are normal, a bent penis is not usually a cause for concern unless you experience pain during or after an erection, or you are not able to have intercourse at all.

In addition, PD does not affect fertility.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040149/
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/au/2017/4653512/
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0150157