Peyronie's disease or Chronic Inflammation of the Tunica Albuginea (CITA) is a soft tissue disorder affecting men sometimes after prostate surgery or through traumatic injury to the groin area.
Beta blockers and some anti-hypertensive drugs list Peyronie’s disease as a possible side effect of the medication due to the calcium channel blockers apparent in the chemical mixture. However, they have not been proven to have a correlative link with the onset of Peyronie’s disease.
Some men may also be concerned with the possible onset of erectile dysfunction due to the appearance of the disease.
What is Peyronie's exactly?
A certain degree of curvature in the penis is considered normal and should not be taken as a sign of Peyronie’s disease. If this curvature occurred after prostate surgery or after a recent groin injury and it is at an extreme angle, there may be some cause for alarm.
Men with the condition often see a hard layer of plaque or scar tissue form on the top or bottom of the penis and experience pain when gaining an erection due to the penis not having as much flexibility as it once did. The plaque begins as inflammation around the penis before settling into a hardened membrane.
The hardened scar tissue around the penis often forces the penis to erect in a curvature because it’s forced into that position by the plaque. Sometimes the curvature is mild and only results in indentations or divots across the penis. However, the penis may also be shortened by this position because it no longer extends straight out. The extreme curvature can make sexual intercourse difficult and unpleasant, but the actual scar tissue is not a tumor or cancerous.
Some men may experience more scar tissue appearing outside the penis or groin area including the hands and feet, but this is a rare occurence. Around 30% of men who experience Peyronie’s disease also experience additional scarring on other elastic tissues on the body.
What causes the condition?
While the exact cause of Peyronie’s disease is unknown, many medical experts point to recent trauma or damage to the penis that may have caused internal bleeding. The two chambers called the corpora cavernosa that run the length of the penis may be stretched beyond its limit during sexual intercourse or trauma and popped the small blood vessels connected to the septum.
When this occurs, doctors believe the blood spills out and forms scarring tissue over the injured area. The rigid structure of Peyronie’s disease is believed to be the body’s attempt to prevent further stretching at the point of initial harm to the penis.
Since there are many layers within the penis, the cells from the stretched blood vessels pour out into the other layers and may go undetected for months. After a certain point, the inflamed cells are believed to release chemical agents that promote the formation of scar tissue around the impact site. However, this trauma theory does not explain why men sometimes experience Peyronie’s disease seemingly overnight without any noticeable symptoms.
How is it related to erectile dysfunction?
Some men experience erectile dysfunction as a result of Peyronie’s disease due to the hardening scar tissue around the penis preventing full penile function. The plaque also does not behave like normal tissue within the penis so achieving an erection may be difficult because of the foreign cells preventing routine functions.
The pain from an erect penis can also make sexual intercourse difficult to maintain leading to a flaccid penis before ejaculation. While there is no direct relation between Peyronie’s disease and male impotence, the symptoms apparent in the disease can have negative emotional and self-esteem consequences like stress or anxiety that leads to erectile dysfunction.
Are there treatment options?
There are several different options to deal with the onset of Peyronie’s disease including vitamins, medication, and surgery. Depending on how severe the scar tissue is along the penis, surgery may be the only option while in other cases simple supplements are all that is necessary to improve the extreme curvature and pain. For example:
• Some studies showed improvements in men with Peyronie’s disease when they were given Vitamin E. However, recent studies have not been conclusive in this regard although a combination of Vitamin E and colchicines have been shown to slow the progress of the scar tissue.
• Different surgeries including one removing the plaque from the penis and replacing it with a new patch of skin; another involving pinching the tunica albuginea from the side of the penis in the opposite direction of the plaque build-up to straighten the penis; and a third using an implant to correct the curvature of the penis have been shown to be effective in some cases.
• Clinical trials for physical therapy like massaging the penis back into normal elasticity and straightening devices are currently being studied to correct the damage caused by Peyronie’s disease.
Regardless of the treatment option considered, many men may simply choose to stay silent on the issue because they feel shame or embarrassment and cannot speak to a medical professional about the condition. Only around 13% of cases return the penis to normal condition while the rest require medical treatment.
If you think you might have Peyronie's disease, don't be ashamed to speak with your doctor about it. The sooner you address the issue, the better your chances of remedying the problem.