Peyronie’s Disease: Staying Ahead of the Learning Curve

Thanks to a slew of commercials featuring rugged ranchers and can-do campers pitching Viagra and Cialis, a growing number of men are becoming more comfortable seeing a physician about their erectile dysfunction. While many men have difficulty maintaining an erection, some men find erections can be painful due to another penile health issue—Peyronie’s disease.

“Peyronie’s disease is an acquired condition in which scar tissue, called plaque, forms along the length of the penis, reducing its elasticity. Depending on the location of the scar tissue, it can cause the erect penis to curve upward, downward, and/or to the side. Sometimes it can be painful, but not all men have pain” says Jason Greenfield, M.D., a board-certified urologist with USMD Men’s Health Center. “The greater the scarring, the more pronounced the curvature can be.”

Scar tissue can form following an injury to the penis sustained during sex. But it can also happen for unknown reasons or possibly build up slowly over time as part of the normal aging process. As tissue in the penis becomes less elastic, small, undetected tears caused by too much torque on the penis can occur in the stretchy layers of the penis. Normally, damaged tissue is repaired naturally by the body, but for unknown reasons in some men with Peyronie’s disease, these tears don’t heal and scar tissue builds up.

Other health conditions can contribute to Peyronie’s disease, too. “Men with diabetes seem to have a higher risk based on some studies,” Dr. Greenfield says. ”Men with contractures or scarring of the plams of the hands or soles of the feet also appear to be at higher risk.”


Some men may have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Men whose father or grandfather suffered from Peyronie’s have a greater chance of being afflicted by the disease. While men of any age can be affected, Peyronie’s disease is more common in men 40 to 70 years old. Today, it is estimated that nearly 1 in 10 men suffer from varying degrees of Peyronie’s. In most cases, scar tissue on the topside of the penis shaft causes the penis to curve upward. In severe cases, the penis may curve back toward the abdomen like a hook. “Not only can this curvature be painful and make the penis shorter, it can make intimacy difficult or impossible,” Dr. Greenfield says. “When a man experiences painful erections or notices changes in the size or shape of his penis, he should see a urologist who can make the correct diagnosis and recommend the proper course of treatment based on the patient’s health and severity of the condition.”


Peyronie’s disease resolves on its own in about 10 percent of the cases. Your physician may recommend a “wait and see” approach if the curvature of the penis isn’t severe, doesn’t appear to be growing worse, and you can still have firm erections without significant pain. In more severe cases, treatment may include injections or surgery to remove plaque buildup, straighten the penis and restore erectile function.

If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with Peyronie’s disease, visit one of the experienced board-certified urologists at USMD Men’s Health Center. To schedule an appointment, call the USMD/UANT Men’s Health Center at 817-784-UANT (0818).

Physicians are independent providers and not employed by USMD Hospital at Arlington, LP.

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