Bent penis is a disease that affects men of all ages, though it is more common in older men. There is no exact cause and no cure, but there are many treatments available. A medical expert, such as a family practitioner or urologist, can diagnose and treat the condition.
Definition & Facts
Peyronie’s disease, also known as bent penis, is an abnormal curvature of the penis. It affects more than 9% of men (nearly 1 out of 11). It can occur at any age, but typically is found in men age 50 and older. It is unknown exactly what causes it, but many scientists believe it is caused by scar tissue formed from an accident or injury to the penis.
Aside from that, there are potential risk factors to getting Peyronie’s disease. Those with the disease have higher instances of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking. However, that link has not been proven.
Regardless of the force, when penile tissues are damaged, a scarring process is activated. In bent penis, this process is supercharged and leads to an excess buildup of collagen and formation of a plaque. A plaque is scar-like tissue that causes the penis to bend or disfigure.
Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes the scar tissue build-up, however. Some believe it may be due to an autoimmune disease or connective tissue disease. It is also thought that there may be a genetic link, so having a relative with bent penis may point to an increased risk.
When to see a doctor
Peyronie’s disease can be difficult to talk about, as many men are embarrassed by it. However, seeking medical attention early on is crucial. As soon as symptoms are noticed, it is important to visit the doctor because early treatments are less invasive. As the disease progresses, treatment options become fewer and more invasive.
A family practitioner can diagnose and treat the condition, but a urologist is even better, as they typically have more expertise and experience in dealing with the disease. A doctor can evaluate the current condition of the penis and rule out other potential causes of curvature, including sarcoma of the penis (extremely rare cancer, but possible) and congenital penile curvature (a penis that has been curved since birth).
If it is determined that it is in fact Peyronie’s disease, the patient will receive a formal diagnosis and treatment options and future outlook will be discussed. The appointment can be made more comfortable by bringing along a trusted friend, preparing questions in advance, and remembering that the doctors have seen the condition before. They are there to help.
Treatment & Therapy
There is currently no cure for bent penis, only treatment and pain management options. If the disease is in the early stages, most doctors will not recommend surgery. Some will employ the “wait-and-see” approach, especially if the curvature is remaining stable and erectile function is good. If symptoms are severe or worsening, or for those that wish to begin treatment anyway, there are a variety of pills and devices that can help.
Treatments along the natural route include vitamin E, colchicines, PABA, tamoxifen, and others. Other oral medications are verapamil, usually used for high blood pressure treatment, and interferon, which helps break down scar tissue. These have had some success, especially in the very early stages, but have not been proven. A doctor may also recommend pentoxifylline or Potaba®, or they may prescribe the first FDA-approved treatment, Xiaflex®.
This treatment is an injection that breaks down the collagen that causes the curvature. Other first-line treatment options include shock-wave therapy to break up scar tissue, creams, vacuum devices and devices that stretch the penis. Sometimes they are used in conjunction. If the disease has moved past this stage and is into later stages, surgery may be necessary. Doctors usually reserve surgery for severe cases, such as when having difficulty with intercourse or experiencing a lot of pain, because side effects can be severe.
They include shortening or narrowing of the penis, numbness and erectile dysfunction. The side effects may sound scary, but surgery can provide relief when nothing else works, so it is a good last-resort option. Surgery can go a few different ways: suturing the unaffected side, which can straighten the penis; incision and grafting, which is reserved for more severe cases; and penile implants, which can help the patient maintain an erection.
Prevention & Prophylaxis
Having low testosterone is also common among Peyronie’s sufferers, so if this is a concern it should be treated. A patient may not have a choice in this, but undergoing invasive penis procedures can also contribute to the development of bent penis, so it is best to avoid this if possible. Acute or repeated injury to the penis is also a risk factor, so this should also be avoided.
Aside from these small measures, there isn’t much anyone can do to prevent bent penis, as it is unknown what exactly causes it. It may be genetic, so there is nothing to be done there. So really, the best anyone can do is quit smoking, take care of their overall health and avoid injury to the penis.
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