Peyronie's Disease - Possible Causes

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What causes Peyronie's disease?

A plaque on the topside of the shaft, which is 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 top and bottom, leading to indentation and shortening of the penis. At times, pain, bending, and emotional distress prohibit sexual intercourse.

Picture of Peyronie's disease
A cross-section of the penis (left) displays the internal cavity that runs the length of the penis and is divided into two chambers-corpora cavernosa-by a vertical connecting tissue known as a septum. Scientists theorize that, during trauma such as bending, bleeding might occur at a point of attachment of the septum to the tunica albuginea lining the chamber wall (center). The bleeding results in a hard scar, or plaque, which is characteristic of Peyronie's disease. The plaque reduces flexibility on one side of the penis during erection, leading to curvature (right).

Estimates of the prevalence of Peyronie's disease range from less than 1 percent to 23 percent.¹ A recent study in Germany found Peyronie's disease in 3.2 percent of men between 30 and 80 years of age.² Although the disease occurs mostly in middle age, younger and older men can develop it. About 30 percent of men with Peyronie's disease develop hardened tissue on other parts of the body, such as the hand or foot. A common example is a condition known as Dupuytren's contracture of the hand. In some cases, Peyronie's disease runs in families, which suggests that genetic factors might make a man vulnerable to the disease.

A French surgeon, Francois de la Peyronie, first described Peyronie's disease in 1743. The problem was noted in print as early as 1687. Early writers classified it as a form of impotence, now called erectile dysfunction (ED). Peyronie's disease can be associated with ED-the inability to achieve or sustain an erection firm enough for intercourse. However, experts now recognize ED as only one factor associated with the disease-a factor that is not always present.

Return to Peyronie's Disease (Curvature of the Penis)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Buddy, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 11

I am prone to Tinea Versacolor, a skin condition that results in blotches on my skin. I usually get it on my upper body. But shortly after it appeared on the head of my penis, I began to suffer the pain and scar tissue of Peyronie's. I never had any injury to that area. Since no one seems to know the cause of Tinea, I suspect there is some causal relationship.

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