If you’re dealing with penis pain or curvature changes, it could be Peyronie’s disease. Early treatment can improve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse. While the thought of seeing a doctor could make you uncomfortable, it may help to know what to expect when you meet.
Peyronie's disease can cause pain, interrupt your sex life, and affect your mental health.
A urologist has experience seeing people concerned about Peyronie’s disease. They can help you get through the visit comfortably so you can get answers about your health. The doctor and care team can be an ongoing source of support as the disease progresses. There’s no cure, but there are treatments that can help. Getting support starts with your doctor visit.
Discussing Peyronie’s Disease Symptoms
You’ll probably start by filling out a questionnaire. The nurse or doctor will want some details about your medical history and any medicines or supplements you take.
Then you’ll likely answer a few questions. Expect the urologist to ask about your specific symptoms like pain, changes in your penis curve, or sexual issues. They’ll probably ask how long you’ve had symptoms, when they may be most intense, and anything you’ve done in the past to treat them. Tell the doctor about any past penis injuries, as that may have contributed. If you have a family history specifically of Peyronie’s disease, or if you have an issue such as Dupuytren’s contractures or tympanosclerosis, bring it up. Those can make you more likely to get Peyronie’s disease.
During or after the visit, you may need to give a urine or blood sample.
Expect questions about erections and sexual activity, specifically, because this disease can impact both. Don’t be afraid to answer questions about this, or ask for resources.
How to Diagnose Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is based on the presence of scar tissue. (It’s called plaque, but it’s not the same kind that can develop in your arteries.) Once the doctor can identify scar tissue in the penis and determine the extent of the issue, they can usually diagnose Peyronie’s disease.
Doctors diagnose Peyronie’s disease by:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will feel your penis when it's not erect to confirm the existence of scar tissue. They may look for irregularities such as narrowing, indentations, or bands. They may take an initial length measurement of your penis, which can help them tell if it gets shorter in the future. They may also use a goniometer to measure the angle of the curvature. Sometimes, the doctor wants to see the penis when it’s erect, so they’ll ask you to bring in a picture of your erect penis so they can gain other details that can help them recommend an effective treatment. They can also use a vacuum erection device (VED) or shots to induce an erection.
- Additional testing. Some doctors may want to rule out anything else or confirm that your issues are due to Peyronie’s disease. An ultrasound can give a better idea of what’s going on inside your penis. The doctor may give you a shot to make it erect so they can get the best view. An ultrasound can detect scar tissue and let the doctor see how blood is flowing throughout your penis. The ultrasound is painless.
Explore Peyronie’s Disease Treatments
Your doctor may ask to see you back at the office before making a diagnosis, or they may make a diagnosis on the spot. Once you confirm that you have Peyronie’s disease, you can start talking about possible treatments. These may reduce pain and/or reverse some or all of the penis curve shifts.
The treatment that’s best usually depends on how long you’ve been dealing with the disease. You and your doctor can review types of treatments based on the stage you’re in.
There are two phases of Peyronie’s disease:
Acute (active) phase. You may have pain in your penis. This phase includes noticing that your penis seems to be getting shorter, changes in penis curve, and/or other changes in shape. It can last about 2 to 4 weeks, or a year or longer.
Treatments in this phase may include:
- Penile traction therapy. This is when you regularly use a device to stretch the penis, which can break up the scar tissue to ease the curvature and/or deformity, improve length, and may strengthen erections. You’ll need to wear it daily for several months to see a change. You can purchase the device and try this treatment at home.
- Oral medications. These can help during this phase but aren’t as effective as surgery.
- Injections. A direct shot into the penis – a local anesthetic can prevent pain – can help with pain and curvature. Your doctor may do a series of shots. They may also add oral medications to this treatment.
Chronic (stable) phase. After 3 to 12 months of having symptoms, most men enter into this stage of the disease. There are no longer changes in the appearance of your penis, and there’s no more pain.
Your doctor may recommend shots or penile traction therapy – or they may simply monitor your condition regularly (known as watchful waiting). It’s not typical to do surgery until you’ve had the disease for 9 to 12 months (or the curvature changes slow down for at least 3 to 6 months). Surgery is the most effective treatment for Peyronie’s disease in this stage, because it can remove scar tissue and/or otherwise lengthen your penis. The surgery can also involve inserting a penile implant in some cases. You may want to explore this option if your case is severe or interrupts your sex life.
Moving Forward with Peyronie’s Disease
Talk to a urologist about your condition, because it can get worse over time – and because treatments can help. Once you are able to meet with the doctor, it can help you access resources to improve your condition and help you live with Peyronie’s disease.
Photo Credit: Kannika Yawichai / EyeEm / Getty Images
Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic's Approach to Peyronie's Disease: Nonsurgical Interventions,” “Peyronie’s Disease.”
Northwell Health: “7 Things Men Can Expect During a Urologist Office Visit.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Peyronie’s Disease,” “Urologist.”
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Penile Curvature (Peyronie's Disease).”
The Journal of Sexual Medicine: “Measurement of Penile Curvature in Peyronie's Disease Patients: Comparison of Three Methods.”
The Journal of Urology: “Peyronie’s Disease: AUA Guideline.”
University of Utah: “What Causes Peyronie’s Disease and Is It Treatable?”