Aug 30, 2019 12:00 AM

Every penis is a different size and shape from all others. However, men with Peyronie’s disease have penises with curvature or deformity that can cause pain, make it difficult to get or keep an erection, or have any sexual function at all.

Alexander Pastuszak, MD, PhD, is a urologist with University of Utah Health specializing in male infertility and sexual dysfunction. He’s currently doing research at the U looking at genetic causes of Peyronie’s disease.

Right now, we know that Peyronie’s disease is caused by a buildup of scar tissue in the penis. This scar tissue can form lumps or cause the penis to curve. How or why this scar tissue forms in some men but not others is not yet known, and is part of Dr. Pastuszak’s research. Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease may appear slowly and develop over time, with men often experiencing a slight lump or pain in a particular area early on, followed by curvature or other penile deformity, such as narrowing of the penis. Peyronie’s currently affects between four to 13 percent of the male population, and most typically occurs in males around the age of 55 years old.

“With many cases we deal with, the men who come in with lumps are worried about having cancer,” said Pastuszak. Although Peyronie’s is a benign condition, Pastuszak advises that men seek medical attention. Peyronie’s is also linked to other conditions, such as Dupuytren’s (contracture of the hand) or Ledderhose (contracture of the bottoms of the feet) diseases.

There are currently no established preventions for Peyronie’s disease. Pastuszak says that Peyronie’s is usually a predisposition to the way our body heals in reaction to injury. “Our body is prone to respond in a certain way, and abnormal scar tissue formation is one way.”

There are three commonly used treatments for Peyronie’s disease. Penile traction therapy is a nonsurgical treatment method of stretching the penis over hours for a few months, increasing the penis length and reducing deformity. There are also enzyme injections that can dissolve the plaque formed under the skin. Lastly, men can opt for corrective surgery that fixes the curve.

While Peyronie’s disease only affects a small portion of the male population, men who have it often have decreased quality of life, which can cause relationship and other problems.  However, treatment for Peyronie’s is available and can be very effective!

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