Straight Talk About Peyronie's Disease

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on August 13, 2022
3 min read

When your elbow bends, that's normal. When your penis bends, you may have a condition called Peyronie's disease.

If your penis doesn’t "stand up straight," you’re not alone. Some men naturally have a mild curve due to simple anatomy. But others have Peyronie's disease, where scar tissue in the penis causes it to bend during erections.

It usually bends up, though any direction is possible. The bend can be mild or severe -- as much as 90 degrees or more. No one knows for sure how many men have Peyronie's disease, but experts think the number is probably between 5% and 10%. It’s more common in men over 40.

We're not sure what causes Peyronie's disease. Many doctors think it’s the result of minor injury to the penis during sex. This can happen when an erection is less than firm, allowing the penis to bend.

But many men with Peyronie's disease don’t remember hurting themselves like that. Genes may also play a role. It's not cancer, and there is no evidence that it’s caused by a sexually transmitted disease.

It’s possible. In a little more than 10% of men who first notice a bend in their penis, it will get straighter on its own over time. But it’s much more likely that the curve will get worse before the condition levels off, which could take a year or more.

The penis has two chambers that fill with blood to make an erection. Each chamber is covered in a strong, stretchy sheath. Damage to this sheath is thought to cause inflammation that leads to scar tissue. The inflammation may make erections painful. The good news: The pain doesn't last. It usually disappears once healing from the injury is complete.

Unless it prevents you from having sex, Peyronie's disease shouldn't affect fertility.

Bring in photos of your erect penis. A doctor can usually diagnose Peyronie’s disease by looking at the photos, asking you questions about your symptoms and any injuries you recall, and feeling for scar tissue.

If Peyronie’s disease is causing painful sex or if the curve makes it tough to have sex, see your doctor, who may refer you to a urologist. Treatments include oral medicines, penile injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (for penile pain), or surgery.  

Pills or injections in your penis are usually the first treatment your doctor will try. If neither of these help and you continue to have a hard time having sex, you may need surgery.