Sexual Health Q&A

What is Peyronie’s disease?

Peyronie’s disease is a disorder that causes areas of hardened scar tissue called plaques to form on the penis, just under the surface of the skin. These plaques make the penis less flexible. As a result, men with Peyronie’s disease have a noticeable curve in their penis. The penis may shorten as well.

Sexual intercourse can be difficult for men with Peyronie’s disease, especially if their curve is severe. Men may also experience pain and have problems with erections.

Experts aren’t sure what, exactly, causes Peyronie’s disease. It is believed to be a wound healing disorder. A man may injure his erect penis, such as through vigorous sex, and not even be aware that he has done so. However, the injury does not heal as it should. Instead, an excessive amount of scar tissue develops and does not break down as it typically would.

The scar tissue is made of collagen, a type of protein. Normally, as a wound heals, collagen breaks down and the scar becomes smaller, a process called “remodeling.” In Peyronie’s disease, the scars do not remodel properly.

It’s also possible that some cases of Peyronie’s disease are inherited.

Peyronie’s disease occurs in two stages. The first is the “active” phase, which occurs during the first twelve to twenty-four months. During this phase, the disease progresses and the penis continues to bend.

Eventually, Peyronie’s disease stabilizes. This is called the “chronic” phase. At this time, pain usually subsides and the curve usually doesn’t worsen.

Not all men with Peyronie’s disease require treatment. For some, the condition goes away on its own. For others, the condition is not severe enough to require treatment.

However, many men decide to have treatment, which may involve surgery. Nonsurgical treatments are also available.