A relatively unknown anomaly is Peyronie’s disease, which the medical community can also call penis fibroplastic induration. It may disappear on its own, but cases of significant progression and a tangible negative impact on intimate life are also not uncommon. What are the symptoms of the disease and how to treat it?
Historical reference. In 1743, French royal surgeon and scientist François Gigot de la Peyronie, described a case with pathological changes in the cavernous bodies of the male penis, later named after him Peyronie’s disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease?
Symptoms are easy to identify, but only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis, since theoretically and practically there can be penile deformities that are not actually Peyronie’s disease. In case of Peyronie’s disease, a connective tissue lump is created in the organ, which causes thickening and curvature of a certain degree. Some patients may perceive this in panic, as they associate a thickened tumor with cancer. But this disease is benign, although it is the cause of an unpleasant distortion of the organ.
Symptoms of the disorder are manifested in the following: initially, pain during an erection may appear, subsequently the penis is bent, which leads to significant difficulties during sex or the inability to have sexual intercourse.
The disease most often occurs in men aged 30 to 60-65 years.
What Are the Causes of Penile Curvature?
The exact causes of Peyronie’s disease are unknown to the medical science. The most likely cause of the disease is considered to be repeated microtrauma of the membranes of the penis cavernous bodies (which, during sexual arousal, are filled with blood and provide a proper erection). Due to permanent damage, albeit minor, proliferation (tissue growth) occurs, and collagen deposition in these areas increases. In case of a longstanding disease, a fibrous plaque may occur, leading to a significant distortion of the organ.
At the same time, doctors are aware of factors that can contribute to the development of Peyronie’s disease. Their list includes:
- Unfavorable hereditary background: sometimes doctors track the chain of incidence in the family, but these cases are rare.
- Accident (penile injury).
- Diabetes mellitus: patients with this disease are at higher risk.
- High blood pressure (arterial hypertension).
- Disorders of lipid (fat) metabolism in the body.
- Heart disease (particularly coronary heart disease)
Diagnosis of the Disease
Clinic specialists use many research methods to diagnose the disease.
The main method is an ultrasound of the genital organ. Using special drugs, an erection is induced, then the doctor evaluates the degree of deformative changes, blood flow and plaque size to determine how much the curvature affected the erection.
After a full examination, the doctor selects the appropriate treatment method, taking into account the individual organism and the possibility of the safe use of certain drugs.
Want to know more about men’s diseases? Read the article about Male Disorders in Urology.
Peyronie’s Disease Treatment
With minor distortions, conservative therapy is used. Medications relieve symptoms and stabilize the course of the disease. The most effective drugs are as follows:
- vitamin E
- L-carnitine (levocarnitine)
- potassium para-aminobenzoate (POTABA)
All of the above medications are taken orally in the form of tablets or capsules. Interestingly, L-carnitine, which is essentially a natural supplement, has a decent effect. For example, according to a study by G. Biagiotti and G. Cavallini (BJU International, 2001), Acetyl‐l‐carnitine (a form of the substance l-carnitine) was significantly more effective than tamoxifen in reducing painful sensations and in oppressing progression of the disease.
Intracavernous injections of hyaluronidase, interferon, hydrocortisone and other medications may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and for other therapeutic purposes.
Doctors can also recommend shock wave therapy, a treatment method in which shock waves with low intensity affect a problematic area. They are able to soften tissue densification, which will lead to a decrease in pain and reduce deformation of the penis.
Is Cure Possible?
To completely get rid of the disease, surgical intervention can be undertaken which is usually a radical excision of the fibrous plaque. Sometimes it is necessary to use methods of plastic surgery at the site of the defect formed on the cavernous body.