Peyronie’s disease may run in families and be linked to autoimmune conditions and connective tissue disorders.

In Peyronie’s disease, scar tissue builds up and forms deposits called plaques under the skin of the penis. As a result, the penis bends or curves during an erection. These changes in shape can cause pain and make it more painful or difficult to have sex.

While scientists don’t know exactly what causes Peyronie’s disease, it often happens after an injury to the penis, sometimes during sex. Evidence suggests that genes may also be involved because the condition sometimes runs in families.

Learn which factors surrounding Peyronie’s disease are related to genes and which ones aren’t.

Peyronie’s disease often happens after an injury to the penis. But not everyone who injures their penis develops this condition. Some people may be more prone to getting Peyronie’s than others because of genes they inherit.

This condition sometimes runs in families. Having a parent or sibling with Peyronie’s disease might increase the likelihood of having it yourself.

The genes that are involved might cause thickening and scarring of connective tissue. But exactly which genes those are is still a mystery.

Peyronie’s tends to cluster in families and affect men of certain races more than others. Those findings suggest that gene changes called mutations may play a role in causing the disorder.

Familial clustering

Some families have more cases of Peyronie’s disease than others. Scientists call this grouping “familial clustering.”

A 2022 study showed that the risk of Peyronie’s was much higher in first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) than in non-relatives. The risk was also higher in more distant fifth-degree relatives, like second cousins, great-uncles, and others.

Father/brother link

Genes related to Peyronie’s disease may pass from father to son. If your father has this condition, you’re more likely to develop it. Brothers are also more likely to be affected because they share many of the same genes.


People of certain races and ethnicities get Peyronie’s more often than others. White people have the highest risk.

According to a 2023 study, out of more than 17,000 veterans with Peyronie’s disease:

  • 71% were white
  • 15% were Black
  • 6% were Hispanic
  • just under 2% were Native American
  • less than 1% were Asian

Gene expressions

Genes code for specific proteins in the body. Expression is how the information that’s contained in a gene is used to direct the production of its specific protein.

Faulty gene expression might be behind the scarring that happens in Peyronie’s disease. Genes that are abnormally expressed in this disease are responsible for coding the proteins that help to make fibroblasts — cells that form connective tissue. As a result, more fibroblasts are produced, which can lead to the buildup of scar tissue in Peyronie’s disease.

The most likely cause of Peyronie’s disease is an injury to the penis. These other factors could also be involved in causing Peyronie’s disease.


The risk of Peyronie’s disease increases with age. According to research, about 10% of men develop the condition. Those in their 20s and 30s can also be affected, but Peyronie’s is rare in younger people.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is difficulty getting or keeping an erection. About 1 in 5 men have ED, but up to 60% of men with Peyronie’s have trouble getting erections.

Peyronie’s might cause ED, or vice versa. The excess connective tissue growth could damage the arteries of the penis and block blood flow. Adequate blood flow is essential for having an erection. ED might also cause Peyronie’s because trying to have sex with an incomplete erection could damage the penis.

Autoimmune conditions

People with autoimmune diseases like Sjögren disease or lupus are more likely to get Peyronie’s disease. In these conditions, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues. Those antibodies could attack cells in the penis and cause scar tissue to form.

Connective tissue disorders

Connective tissue is the material that supports and gives structure to the body’s organs and tissues. People with Peyronie’s disease are more likely to have connective tissue disorders like these:

  • Dupuytren’s contracture: This causes tissue in the palm of the hand to get thicker and the fingers to curl in. About 1 in 5 men with Dupuytren’s contracture also have Peyronie’s disease. This condition may also run in the same families.
  • Plantar fasciitis: This is inflammation in the thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia in the bottom of the foot. This condition can cause pain, especially during walking.
  • Scleroderma: This is an autoimmune disease that causes thick patches of connective tissue to grow in many parts of the body.

Treatments for Peyronie’s disease help to straighten the penis, relieve pain, and make it easier to have sex.

Collagenase injections (Xiaflex) break down scar tissue to reduce curving and improve erections. Verapamil (Verelan) and interferon-alpha 2b (Intron A) injections can help with curving and pain. If symptoms don’t improve with injections, surgery can help remove scar tissue or straighten the penis.

Scientists are trying to learn more about the genetic factors involved in Peyronie’s disease. Genes that are eventually discovered could lead to the development of biomarkers that help doctors diagnose and treat Peyronie’s more quickly and effectively.

Though scientists don’t know the exact cause of Peyronie’s disease, they believe a combination of genes and environmental factors are involved. The condition usually happens after an injury to the penis, but genes may make some people more susceptible than others to developing Peyronie’s after an injury.

Factors like age, autoimmune conditions, and connective tissue disorders may also increase the risk for Peyronie’s. Currently, the main treatments are injections and surgery. Discovering the genes that cause this condition could one day lead to new methods of diagnosing and treating this condition.