Peyronie’s Disease Facts Explained
Peyronie’s disease, or PD, is something that affects any person with a penis. It is a buildup of plaque and fibrous tissues, causing the penis to have a curvature and is found in up to 3% of the male population. While this number may seem low, it’s actually suspected that there are many more cases that go unreported. Men may feel embarrassed or feel too vulnerable and exposed to bring this issue up with their doctor. They may attempt to hide it or downplay its existence to boost their self-esteem and confidence.
For patients who go to the doctor for Peyronie’s disease, they typically do so within the first six months of noticing troubling symptoms. They may initially present with just a curvature to their penis, or they may also have accompanying pain without an apparent cause. They may also report increased difficulty with their sex life, as erections can produce more significant amounts of scar tissue that lead to higher pain levels.
While there are obvious physical implications of Peyronie’s disease, many may not consider the emotional aspects of this as well. This leads to an overall call to increase awareness of this defect. Men who are diagnosed, either by a licensed professional or not, have been found to have higher rates of clinical depression, increased emotional distress, and up to 54% of their relationship issues are attributed to the penile curvature. It provides frustration and feelings of worthlessness for the male in a sexual relationship, and this can obviously take a toll on them.
As taxing as the condition may be, it’s crucial for those affected to seek treatment. Those who show up at their provider’s office in an active stage of the disease are faced with a few different statistics. They may spontaneously recover (20% of patients), their condition may stabilize and not change at all (40% of patients), or they may be faced with a worsening curvature. This can lead to increased pain and may likely end up needing a surgical intervention at some point.
Many men who sought treatment for Peyronie’s disease were actually not given an accurate diagnosis at their first visit. This typically occurred in only 8% of cases. Part of this is because of the different symptoms that men came in to discuss. One major problem cause of this disease is a weakened erection. This is because plaques can restrict blood flow to the genitals and lead to an erection that was not sufficient for intercourse. These men were usually diagnosed and treated for erectile dysfunction, rather than underlying Peyronie’s disease.
Other men visited with lumps or lesions on their penis. Given that the common perception of PD is a penile curvature, these men were not initially considered for diagnosis.
In the early stages of the disease, a male’s penile function may be relatively unaffected, and they may elect a “wait and see” approach. Once curvature increases to around 30%, they may be experiencing significant pain and loss of function and may pursue things like a surgical intervention. One option for this is a plication operation. This is done in the outpatient setting, and the surgeon essentially shortens the “long” side of the penis to match the opposite and “shorter” side of the penis. This lessens the curvature and has an effectiveness rate of up to 90%. Another potential treatment option is having the scar tissue and plaque removed, although this is typically only 75% effective and carries its own set of side effects. This type of intervention usually has longer recovery time and can lead to decreased sensations in the penis.
Studies have shown that the most common age range of affected men is from age 45 to age 60, but this is not an absolute value. Men as young as 18 have been diagnosed as well. The older age range of men may very well contribute to the false diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. It could also explain why many are more reluctant to seek out evaluation and treatment for the condition. It’s also interesting to note that while 75% of patients are in the older age range, they are also more likely to report a penile trauma, such as a previous surgery or injury. The location of the injury is generally where the body starts to form the plaque and scar tissue, meaning that this is also the site of potential curvature.
One of the most common conditions to occur with Peyronie’s disease is erectile dysfunction. Over 30% of men report having this symptom, but more than 50% of patients feel like the erectile dysfunction came before the Peyronie’s disease. This can significantly impact and delay proper treatment options, as the provider and patient may only be focused on medications for the ED or for the pain separately, but may not initially realize that these symptoms are part of an overarching diagnosis. When diagnosing and treating this condition, it’s also essential to distinguish between the active stage, where the patient is having pain or other symptoms, and the stable stage, where the patient may be relatively asymptomatic. To learn more, contact Trident Health Group today.