Peyronie’s disease, also called penile curvature, occurs when plaque builds up inside the penis and causes it to curve or bend. Many men with penile curvature experience pain and difficulty achieving an erection.
The condition often goes undiagnosed.
There are a number of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for Peyronie’s disease. Certain natural remedies may also provide some relief, but their efficacy has not yet been proven in scientific studies.
Treatment isn’t always necessary for Peyronie’s disease. In about 13 percent of cases, the condition goes away on its own, according to the Urology Care Foundation.
Your doctor may recommend forgoing treatment if you have:
- small plaques
- no pain
- little curvature of the penis
- no problems having sex or urinating
People who do need treatment for Peyronie’s disease have a few options to choose from, depending on the stage of the condition at diagnosis and the severity of symptoms.
The acute phase usually lasts about 6 months, but it can last up to 18 months. This is when:
- the plaque forms
- the penis has active inflammation
- the penis starts to curve
Doctors usually recommend nonsurgical interventions during this early phase, or in the first year after the penis starts to curve.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen, can be used to relieve pain during the acute phase.
Shockwave therapy may be another treatment option for people with Peyronie’s disease in the acute phase.
It involves having a healthcare provider move a wand-like device that emits sound waves around your penis. It won’t reverse your curvature, but it may help relieve pain and discomfort.
Some people also try using traction or vacuum devices to reduce the curve in their penis. However, the efficacy of these devices is still being studied.
While injections of medications into the penis are typically used only once Peyronie’s disease has reached a stable phase, researchers are looking at the potential for this treatment to help in the acute phase.
Peyronie’s disease is considered to be in its stable (or chronic) phase once your symptoms haven’t changed for 3 months.
Injections are a common treatment for Peyronie’s disease in the stable phase. This treatment takes place in your doctor’s office.
Your doctor will numb the area of the penis at the location of the plaque, then inject a medication.
The medication options for injections include:
- Collagenase (Xiaflex). This works to break up plaques, reduce curving, and improve erectile function.
- Verapamil. This helps reduce pain and curving.
- Interferon-alpha 2b. This aims to reduce pain, curving, and the size of plaques.
Once you’ve had symptoms for at least 1 year, and stable curvature and symptoms for 3 to 6 months, your doctor may recommend treating Peyronie’s disease with one of several types of surgery. The specific type will depend on your curvature and how the disease affects your erection.
Penile plication is one common surgery for people with mild curvature. This involves pinching or removing a piece of tissue on the opposite side of the curvature of the penis, then using permanent stitches to help straighten it.
For people with moderate-to-severe erectile dysfunction (ED), Peyronie’s disease surgery may involve inserting a device inside the penis, such as an inflatable pump or silicone rods. These can help straighten the penis and improve your ability to get an erection.
For people with severe curving, plaque calcification, or severe narrowing of the shaft, the surgeon may lengthen the curved side of the penis by removing some plaque and replacing it with a piece of tissue called a graft.
This type of surgery is typically reserved for people with severe cases of Peyronie’s disease.
There are a range of other treatments that may be used for Peyronie’s disease, including:
- stretching the penis for several hours per day (penile traction)
- applying heat (hyperthermia)
- applying magnesium to the penis
- applying topical verapamil to the penis
It’s important to note that these treatments are not yet proven effective for Peyronie’s disease and require further study, according to the UCF. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.
The symptoms of Peyronie’s disease aren’t just physical — they can be psychological as well.
The UCF estimates that around 50 percent of men with Peyronie’s disease experience symptoms of depression. The condition may also cause anxiety and stress within intimate relationships.
A mental health professional, such as a therapist, can provide individualized support for people experiencing psychological symptoms from Peyronie’s disease.
With Peyronie’s disease, most of the changes to the penis occur in the first 18 months. After that, people generally experience less pain, and their curvature and plaque stabilize.
However, some symptoms (like ED) may worsen over time.
Severe shortening and curvature of the penis can be difficult to reverse, so it’s important to get early treatment.
Talk with your doctor if you notice symptoms of Peyronie’s disease, such as:
- lumps in the penis
- shortening of the penis
- soft erections
- painful erections
- pain during sex
- narrowing of the penis shaft
- curving of the penis during an erection
Peyronie’s disease affects many people in the United States. It can cause:
- sexual problems
- challenges with personal intimacy
There are many treatments for Peyronie’s disease, including injections and surgery. Getting treatment soon after you notice symptoms can improve your outlook.
Speak with your doctor if you experience symptoms, such as curving or shortening of the penis.