Peyronie's is a disease characterized by a plaque that forms on the penis. With this condition, the hardened plaque reduces flexibility, causing pain and forcing the penis to bend or arc during erection -- making sexual intercourse difficult. The goal of treatment for this disease is to keep the patient sexually active. Surgery is only recommended in long-term cases.
Peyronie's is a disease characterized by a plaque (hard lump) that forms on the penis. The plaque develops on the upper or lower side of the penis in the layers containing erectile tissue. It begins as a localized inflammation and can develop into a hardened scar.
At this point in time, the exact cause of Peyronie's is unknown. However, many researchers believe the plaque associated with Peyronie's develops following trauma (hitting or bending) that causes localized bleeding inside the penis.
(Click Cause of Peyronie's Disease for more information.)
Cases of Peyronie's range from mild to severe. Symptoms may develop slowly or appear overnight. In severe cases, the hardened plaque reduces flexibility, causing pain and forcing the penis to bend or arc during erection. In many cases, the pain decreases over time, but the bend in the penis may remain a problem, making sexual intercourse difficult. The sexual problems that result from Peyronie's can disrupt a couple's physical and emotional relationship, and lead to lowered self-esteem in the man. In a small percentage of patients with a milder form of Peyronie's, the inflammation may resolve without causing significant pain or permanent bending.
The plaque itself is benign (noncancerous). A plaque on the top of the shaft (which is the most common) causes the penis to bend upward. A plaque on the underside causes it to bend downward. In some cases, the plaque develops on both the top and bottom, leading to indentation and shortening of the penis. At times, pain, bending, and emotional distress make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible.