Peyronie’s disease affects the penis. It is characterised by formation of plaque or hard lump within the penis. The plaque, a flat plate of scar tissue, may form on the top or bottom side of the penis inside tunica albuginea. Tunica albuginea is a thick membrane, which envelopes the erectile tissues. The plaque starts as an area of localised inflammation and gradually progresses to form a hardened scar. This plaque, however, has no association with the atherosclerotic plaque that forms in the arteries.
The disease is most often observed in middle aged men (40 to 60 years old), but younger and older men can also develop it. According to different studies, the prevalence of Peyronie’s disease ranges from less than 1 percent to 23 percent.
The exact cause of the disease is not known. It is not a contagious disease or a cancer. Peyronie’s disease has been observed to run in families, which suggests that genetic factors may influence the development of the disease. Some men with Peyronie’s disease can develop hardened tissue on other parts of the body such as the hand or foot (such as Dupuytren’s contracture of the hand). Some experts think that the plaque of Peyronie’s disease starts after a trauma such as hitting or bending, which causes localised bleeding inside the penis. This, however, fails to explain why some cases resolve or why Dupuytren’s contracture does not seem to develop after trauma. Some experts believe that Peyronie’s disease is probably an autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms of peyronies disease may appear suddenly or develop gradually. Bothersome signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include pain, change in curvature of the penis (it may be curved upward, downward, bent to one side or may appear like an hourglass) and erectile dysfunction. Severity of Peyronie’s disease can vary from mild to severe. In cases with severe disease, the flexibility of penis is decreased due to hardened plaque causing pain and forcing it to bend or arc during erection. The pain in many casesimproves and graduallydisappears without treatment with time (in a few months). Bend in the penis, however, may not improve. It may make sexual intercourse difficult, can consequently disrupt a couple’s physical and emotional relationship and cause negative impact on a man’s self-esteem. Symptoms (pain and bend of the penis) in men with the milder form of the disease may improve without treatment.
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