As important as it is for women to take care of their sexual and reproductive health, it is as crucial for men to discuss their sexual health problems. The hesitance to talk about intimate issues often gives rise to complications, and unawareness can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. Several conditions can be toll-taking on the body as well as one's mental health; not to forget, sexual health problems can also affect one's sex life. In this article, we will look into one such sexual health problem called Peyronie's Disease, a condition that affects the penis.
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What Is Peyronie's Disease?
Dr Shailesh Raina, Director of Urology, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai, explains, "Peyronie's disease is a condition that affects the penis, causing it to become curved or bent during an erection. This can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty during sexual activity and can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life."
According to a review published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology, Peyronie's disease is thought to be a disease that primarily afflicts older men. However, research suggests that it also occurs in younger men. It is estimated that the condition affects around 0.3% to 13.1% of men worldwide.
Causes & Risk Factors Of Peyronie's Disease
The definite cause of Peyronie's disease is not known, but it is said to be related to trauma or injury to the penis, says Dr Raina.
"The injury can contribute to the formation of scar tissue in the penis, leading to curvature or bending during an erection. The scar tissue that develops is made up of excess collagen, which is a fibrous protein that is normally found in the body's connective tissues," he explains.
According to the doctor, the risk factors for Peyronie's disease include:
- Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels
- Men who have a family history of Peyronie's disease.
Symptoms To Watch Out For
The primary symptom of Peyronie's disease is curvature or bending of the penis during an erection. The degree of curvature can vary from mild to severe and can occur in any direction. Other symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort during an erection
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lumps or bumps in the penis
- Shortened or narrowed penis
- Symptoms can lead to anxiety and depression in affected men
- Impact on sexual function and overall quality of life
The doctor also says that some people may not experience any symptoms at all.
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Peyronie's disease can be diagnosed through a physical examination and a discussion of symptoms with a healthcare provider.
Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or X-ray, may be used to help confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the extent of the curvature.
Healthcare providers may also recommend blood tests to check for underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to the development of Peyronie's disease.
In some cases, a penile biopsy may be advised to examine the scar tissue and confirm the diagnosis. However, this is usually the case if other tests are inconclusive or if there is a suspicion of cancer.
Several treatment options are available for Peyronie's disease. Some common treatment options include:
Medications: Certain medications, such as collagenase injections, may be used to break down the scar tissue that is causing the curvature. Collagenase is an enzyme that disassembles collagen, which is the main component of scar tissue. Other medications, such as potassium para-aminobenzoate (Potaba), may be used to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Surgery: Surgery may be recommended for more severe cases of Peyronie's disease.
Therapy: Therapy, such as penis stretching or vacuum devices, may be used to help reduce curvature and improve erectile function.
Watchful waiting: In some cases, Peyronie's disease may improve on its own without treatment. In these cases, a healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting and monitoring of symptoms. However, this approach is usually only recommended for mild cases of Peyronie's disease.
Preventing Peyronie's disease can be difficult, as the exact cause is not known. However, reducing the risk of injuries to the penis, such as during sexual activity or sports, may help lower the risk of developing the condition. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and eating a balanced diet, may also help to reduce the risk of developing Peyronie's disease.
Avoid injury: Trauma or injury to the penis is a common cause of Peyronie's disease. To reduce the risk of injury, take care during sexual activity and sports, wear protective gear when appropriate, and avoid accidents that could cause harm to the penis.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can increase the risk of developing Peyronie's disease. Exercise regularly, eat healthily, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol intake.
Seek prompt treatment for penile injuries: If you experience any pain or discomfort after a penile injury, seek medical attention promptly. Early treatment can help reduce the risk of developing Peyronie's disease.
Practice safe sex: Some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can cause inflammation and scarring of the penis, which can increase the risk of Peyronie's disease. Therefore, practice safe sex. Use condoms and get tested regularly.
Peyronie's disease is a rare condition that occurs in men. It can be both symptomatic and asymptomatic, which is why sometimes it can be hard to detect. However, early diagnosis is the key to timely treatment, which can help minimize the risk of complications and improve outcomes for patients. "By understanding the symptoms and risk factors for Peyronie's disease, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk of developing this condition and seek appropriate treatment if necessary," says Dr Raina.