Peyronie’s Disease is a condition affecting the man’s penis that occurs as the result of the growth of fibrous plaque tissues in the soft part of the penis. The fibrous lumps then grow causing the penis to deform and thus curve. Some medics will refer to the shape of the penis to be that of an hourglass. Technically, the plaques make the penis less flexible and thus cause it to bend on a certain side. The plaques are deposited in the tunica albuginea, which is simply the outer part of the penis; the outer covering determines the size and shape of the erection.
This plaque deposit causes pain on the penis, erectile dysfunction, and abnormal curvature. The pain is mostly felt on the upper side because the condition mostly affects the upper erectile tissue of the penis. In rare cases, the pain is felt on the lower sides or both sides at the same time. The curves in the penis result in painful sexual intercourse while in some cases; patients cannot have any sexual intercourse.
The disease is more prevalent in older men and less in teenagers. The statistics in this regard are likely to be higher because, it being a condition of the reproductive system, most patients are too embarrassed to see the doctor about it. The level of shyness exhibited by the patients is at an alarming rate. Suffice to note, statistics show that 75 out of 100 patients suffer depression due to the disease.
The prevalence of the condition is particularly alarming despite its low publicity. Specifically speaking, a report released by the John Hopkins hospital showed that one in every 11 men are suffering from the condition.
However, recently the number of patients suffering from Peyronie’s disease has become more noticeable. This is because men are no longer embarrassed about visiting their doctor for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. It is at this point that the doctor realizes that the patient is simply not having an ED, but is suffering from Peyronie’s disease.
Peyronie’s disease causes several complications on the patient. Foremost, it affects their sexual activity because of failed erections or painful erections. Ultimately, this causes a strained sexual relationship in some couples. However, such partners ought to understand that the disease I manageable. In addition, patients have been shown to suffer from anxiety and stress and some cases, trauma. In addition, the patient is unable to raise a child due to the inability to have good sexual activity.
The symptoms may take a while to appear in some men while in others the symptoms appear overnight. In its slow form, the condition may take even months for the first symptom to be felt. The symptoms also range between mild and severe. The mild symptoms will in most cases disappear by themselves without the need for treatments. The severe ones will persist for a while and at this point, one must realize that it is time to seek medical attention.
The development of a lump is one of the early signs of Peyronie’s disease. The lump is then characterized by a sharp pain or a discomfort in the penis. Further, the disease causes painful erections or in some instances, soft erections. Most commonly, the disease causes the penis to appear curved, angled or distorted. In this regard, the penis also appears significantly shorter.
Ultimately, Peyronie’s disease causes painful erections. Painful erections may be explained by the fact that the disease causes calcium to collect in the penis thereby causing the penis to be hard and therefore resists the erection. Noteworthy, the symptoms appear in phases. The period of painful erection will, for instance, take between 18-24 months and then if followed by the fibrotic stage that characterized by continued scarring and the penis distort further. However, a patient does not experience significant penile pain at this stage.
Another common symptom is Dupuytren’s contracture. This is the development of fibrosis in the palm of the hand. Studies have shown that about 30 percent of men who have Peyronie’s disease also have Dupuytren’s contracture or other fibrosis in other areas of the body.
Although there has been shown no possible cause so far, there are several risk factors that have been shown to cause Peyronie’s disease. One risk factor is an injury to the penis. It is not clear what amount of injury would cause the condition. What is, however, agreeable is that the injury must be so severe to cause damage of the blood vessels which in turn causes leakage into the areas of the penis that do not come into contact with blood. Such injury could be hitting of the penis during athletics, sex activity or accidents.
With regard to sexual activity as a causative factor, this is true where a man is engaged in vigorous sexual activity that causes microscopic injury to the penis. Genetic factors also play a significant role in the development of the disease. This is in cases where there is a defect in the man’s genetic make-up or in other situations, where the man’s genes are associated with low testosterone. Essentially, this means that men in a certain family link will suffer the condition. Even at toddler years, therefore, such family members have the condition but this cannot be noticed until the boy reaches maturity age.
Moreover, certain diseases contribute to a person contracting the illness. They include diabetes and High blood pressure. The use of certain medication such as Beta- blocking drugs also contribute to the disease. In addition, patients with vitamin deficiency have been shown to suffer the disease. Furthermore, autoimmune diseases may cause the condition. Some medical experts actually believe that Peyronie's disease is part of an autoimmune illness. Some of the autoimmune diseases affect the connective tissues that are ideally the tissue that joins, hold and support the different types of tissues in the body. The penis, just like other body organs is made of connective tissues.
The signs of Peyronie’s disease are in most cases easily noticeable. However, it is prudent to always consult the doctor to ascertain the condition. The most basic test involves the doctor palpating through the penis to fill the location of the scar. Also, your doctor will basically measure the extent of the curve while the penis is erect.
Alternatively, a patient may opt to take photographs in the privacy of his home and take them the doctor for analysis. The images must be clear enough such that the doctor is able to see the degree of curvature, a location of the scar tissue and any other necessary details such as the location of the curvature.
However, the doctor carries out the more accurate tests. The test involves the use a vacuum pump or injection in the shaft that in turn stimulates an erection. Another popular test that a doctor may use is ultra sound. Ultra sound involves generation of images of soft tissues with sound waves. Accurate diagnosis is crucial because it helps determine the correct treatment option.
The treatment for Peyronie’s disease ranges from oral prescriptions, wearable devices, and surgery procedures. Before a patient can consent to a treatment they must enquire exactly what the medication aims to achieve. Ideally, the treatment for Peyronie's disease must aim to reduce the formation of plaques in the penile tissue as well as repair the penile deformation.
One of the earliest oral treatments of the disease is the administration of antioxidant Vitamin E. This was a popular medication due to its low cost and the fact that it caused no adverse side effects. The medication particularly reduced the pain caused by the condition to up to 99% and reduction in penile curvature in 13% of the patients. However, the drug showed no significant reduction in the other symptoms.
Other treatment options will involve the patient wearing certain medical devices to correct the condition. One of the treatments that involve wearing of devices is known as External penile traction. Referred to in simple terms as stretching, it is a medical procedure that involves the patient wearing a specially designed device that corrects the deformity and also improves the penis length. This is because the disease also causes the penis to shrink and reduce in length. Closely similar to stretching method is the use of vacuum devices. However, here, a patient wears a vacuum device that creates a vacuum in the shaft.
Alternatively, the disease may be cured by the use of oral drugs. The drugs used are meant to cause breakdown of collagen which is attributed to causing the penile curvature. The most popular drugs are pentoxifylline (Trental), verapamil and interferon. Noteworthy, there is one single drug approved by the Food and drugs Authority for the treatment of Peyronie's disease. The drug is known as collagenase Clostridium histolyticum (Xiaflex). The drug is specifically ideal for men who experience an erectile dysfunction of at least 30 degrees. It is simply an injectable that hydrolyzes collagen in its original triple-helical conformation and resulting in lysis of collagen deposits.
Another alternative treatment is known as Iontophoresis. This procedure involves the use of an electric current whereby the medicine is applied on the penis and an electric current applied. The method works by combining verapamil and dexamethasone noninvasively through the skin. This is arguably a highly effective method because the electric current enables the medicine to penetrate in the inside of the penis and thus produce the desired effect.
At its severe cases, surgery may be suggested to treat the condition. The surgery is supposed to be a treatment of last resort. This is because just like any surgical procedure, it is characterized by a lot of risks. Surgery may also be recommended where the patient is also unable to enjoy sexual activity.
Before a patient can head to the operation room they ought to carry out a few prerequisites. For instance, the doctor must ensure that the curvature of the penis has stopped increasing. In addition, where the patient has an already tight foreskin, they should first undergo circumcision.
Some of the common surgical options include Incision or excision and grafting. This involves the cutting of the scar tissue and removing some of the tissue thereby allowing the tissue to stretch and thereby grow to the optimal size and attain the desired shape. The procedure also involves sewing in a piece of tissue and filling in the holes in the tunica albuginea. This is, however, one of the surgical procedures that involve high risks.
Alternatively, where surgery is necessary, the patient may undergo penile implants. As the name suggests, it is a procedure whereby the surgeon inserts spongy tissue that drives ejection by soaking in blood. The method is recommended for patients suffering both from Peyronie's disease and erectile dysfunction. After the surgery, the patient is dressed with a light pressure bandage that helps stop bleeding and keep the repair in place.
However, before a patient can commence any medication it is advisable they employ the watch and see’ diagnosis method. This is watching and waiting to see whether the symptoms will go by themselves. The reproductive system is one of the sensitive parts of the human body, thus the need for ascertainment before any artificial methods can be introduced.
There has been shown to be no cure so far, for the disease. However, the use of vitamins and supplements. This is ideally one of the safest methods of treating the condition because it involves the use of natural remedies. The common supplement options are apple cider vinegar, calcium, vitamin C, probiotics and Niacin.
Finally, patients who have previously suffered from the illness have been shown to be at a higher risk of contracting other illnesses. They include developing fibrosis in other parts of the body such as the hands and the feet. The link between Peyronie's disease and cancer are scanty. One school of thought opines that the plaques that characterize the disease are not -cancerous because it is a benign and not a tumor. The disease is also non-contagious nor caused by transmitted diseases. Most importantly, the diseases can be treated by adjustment of one’s lifestyle. This involves quitting smoking, regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting use of illegal drugs.