Not being able to perform in bed and later carrying the shame of it can be quite traumatizing for anyone. Peyronie’s disease, involving scarring and curving of the penis, is one such between-the-sheets concern affecting about 3 in every 100 men.
Must-knows About Peyronie’s Disease
Scientists do not yet know the exact cause for Peyronie’s disease. They do, however, suspect the following factors:
- Penile trauma: Injury to the penis, acute or chronic (repeated), seems to be a major contributing factor to Peyronie’s disease. Injury may be due to hitting or bending of the penis during sexual activity, sports, or an accident.
- Autoimmune disease: Autoimmunity, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells, has also been implicated in Peyronie’s.
Hard lumps on one or more sides of the penis: This is the most prominent tell-tale sign of Peyronie’s. Hard scar tissue or plaque develops in the elastic tissues of the penis involved in an erection.
The development of plaque is gradual and usually begins with inflammation and swelling. Plaque is non-cancerous and is mostly composed of collagen, a component of bone and cartilage.
Plaque may form on the top or bottom of the penis. In more severe cases, it may expand around the penis resulting in a “waist” or “bottleneck deformity of the penile shaft.
Curving of the penis: A penis that appears curved with or without an erection is likely to be caused by Peyronie’s. Depending on where the scar tissue has formed and the extent of it, the penis bends in different directions and with different complexities. For instance, scar tissue on the top of the shaft can cause the penis to bend upward during an erection.
The penis may appear narrower or shorter than before with bends and curves setting in.
Painful erections: This is a consequence of a curved penis. A man may experience painful erections, both sexual and non-sexual, because of Peyronie’s. The pain usually goes away with time despite the curve persisting.
Painful penetrations: Penis curvature may make penetration during sex difficult, painful, or impossible. Couples need to be particularly understanding when facing this rough patch in their sex lives.
Erectile dysfunction (ED): Achieving or maintaining an erection may be difficult for those with a curved penis.
A physical examination serves as a preliminary method to diagnose Peyronie’s disease. Ultrasounds or x-rays may be recommended to identify and precisely locate scar tissue. Studying the medical family history of an individual also helps.
4. Treatment: Natural Remedies
The goal when treating Peyronie’s disease is to reduce pain and make sexual intercourse possible. Before resorting to conventional treatments like penile injections and oral pills, here are some natural remedies you may want to consider.
- Perform gentle penile stretches:
This method attempts to retain the flexibility of a penis. Stretch the penis when in a non-erect state for 30 seconds thrice a day. Also, when you experience a spontaneous erection (not caused by sexual stimulation), straighten out the penis for 30 seconds. Do this at least once daily.
- Apply castor oil:
Gently rub some castor oil on your penis, focusing on areas that have developed hard lumps. Do this daily, at least twice a day. Individuals who have tried this method claim that the castor oil soothes the pain while also softening scarred tissue.
- Eat foods rich in acetyl-L-carnitine:
Acetyl-L-carnitine, a compound stored in muscles, helps the body use fat for energy. A study showed that acetyl-L-carnitine supplements were more effective in reducing pain and slowing down the progression of Peyronie’s disease than the drug tamoxifen generally used to treat the condition.3
By that logic, eating foods rich in this form of carnitine are expected to offer some relief to those suffering from Peyronie’s. Though no studies exist to support this claim, you could give it a try and see if it works for you. Foods rich in this compound include dairy products, red meat, peanut butter, wheat, and avocadoes.
- Fill up on pineapple juice:
The most effective way to get rid of Peyronie’s disease is to break down the collagen in the scar tissue. Bromelain is a powerful enzyme that activates collagenase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down collagen.4 Pineapples contain bromelain, making them a natural remedy for Peyronie’s. Drink plenty of pineapple juice or eat the fruit regularly and monitor the progress or regress of your condition.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices:
Quit smoking, alcohol, and drugs, exercise regularly, and eat healthy. Though the direct links between these measures and Peyronie’s disease are not known, they definitely make for a healthier individual with a stronger immunity.
Surgical penile correction is usually looked upon as the last resort in treating Peyronie’s disease – only when symptoms last more than a year or two. However, you need not worry about that just yet. It is comforting to know that 6–7 out of 10 men suffering from Peyronie’s disease spontaneously improve over time. The symptoms disappear with no permanent curvature to the penis.
5. Risk Factors
Though the exact cause of Peyronie’s disease is not known, certain factors have been seen to increase its chances. These include:
- Belonging to a family with a history of Peyronie’s: There have been some cases where Peyronie’s disease developed in more than one male member of a family. Because of this, medical experts suspect that vulnerable genetics may predispose some men to it.
- Approaching middle age: Peyronie’s disease mostly affects middle-aged men but younger and older men can also acquire it. Those between 40 and 70 are at a higher risk.
- Having Dupuytren’s contracture: Dupuytren’s contracture is an abnormal thickening of the palms of the hands and inward bending of the fingers. About 3% of people suffering from this condition are likely to develop Peyronie’s disease as well.
- Indulging in vigorous penile activity: Those indulging in vigorous sexual and non-sexual activities that cause minor injuries to the penis are at a higher risk of developing Peyronie’s. These seemingly harmless injuries can accumulate over time and result in scarring.
6. Medical Emergency
If you experience any one or both of the following symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor immediately:
- Pain in the penis: Whether it is pain you experience while having sex or pain you have otherwise, pain in the penis should not be ignored. Get yourself checked by a professional health practitioner as soon as you realize the pain is not a one-off case.
- Persistent erections (priapism): Spontaneous erections not sexually stimulated and lasting for more than half an hour warrant immediate medical attention. These accompanied by pain are even more a cause for concern.
Not being able to have a normal erection or penetrate normally can have serious implications beyond the mental trauma of it. For instance, it may be a huge spoke in the wheel for couples trying to conceive. The best way to identify Peyronie’s disease early on is to self-examine your penis regularly. Feel for lumps and don’t ignore pain.
|↑1||Peyronie’s Disease. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Peyronie’s Disease. National Health Services.|
|↑3||Biagiotti, G., and G. Cavallini. “Acetyl‐l‐carnitine vs tamoxifen in the oral therapy of Peyronie’s disease: a preliminary report.” BJU international 88, no. 1 (2001): 63-67.|
|↑4||Bromelain 5000 – 60 capsules. Peyronie’s Disease Institute.|