What is Peyronie Disease?

by Cay L. Crow

fifty year old main with his head down and his hand in his hair he looks upset

What Causes PD?

Dear Cay,

My husband, Jack, and I just returned from the urologist. Jack was having pain in his penis and has had some erectile issues. The urologist diagnosed Jack with Peyronie’s disease. I have never heard of this. It sounds quite scary. I have so many questions about it but don’t know where to begin. What can you tell me?

Dazed and confused

Is Peyronie’s Disease Dangerous?

Dear Dazed and confused,

Like most diseases, Peyronie’s was named after the person, in this case a French surgeon, who first described the condition. Don’t let the name frighten you.

About 10% of men get Peyronie’s Disease. It is most common in men 55-60 years of age and the rate of the disorder increases with age.

Does Peyronie’s Disease Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

The cause of Peyronie’s Disease is unknown. Men who experience a penile injury could develop the disease but not always. In Peyronie’s Disease, plaque forms on the tough, fibrous membrane that surrounds the erectile tissue of the penis. When this happens, the erectile chambers cannot fill up completely. Consider what would happen if you put glue on a balloon then try to blow it up. Once full of air, the balloon will have a dent towards which it will bend. Something similar happens with Peyronie’s Disease. Sometimes the curvature is small or it can be more advanced. The degree of curvature could make penetrative sex difficult and painful. The plaque can cause a loss of sensation and erectile dysfunction.

Medical treatment of Peyronie’s Disease begins with a diagnosis, typically by a urologist. The early stages of the disease can be treated with oral medications that are intended to slow the progression of plaque. Injections to break up the plaque may be recommended. Surgery using the Nesbit operation is considered a last resort. Peyronie’s Disease is managed but not reversed. There is no cure. One researcher believes there is a genetic component to the development of Peyronie’s Disease.

Peyronie’s Disease can take quite an emotional toll. I have worked with several men with Peyronie’s Disease. Some are quite depressed. These gentlemen fear that their sex life is over. They worry that their partners will find them unattractive because of what they feel is a deformity. Working with a sex therapist helps remind these gentlemen that pleasure is still possible no matter what the shape of their penis.

I believe there is a grief process that a man and his partner go through with Peyronie’s Disease. It is necessary to let go of sex as you once knew it and embrace what sex can be now. Your husband is still the man you loved and married. You know that you have sex with the whole of him, not just his penis. Now is the time to remind him of that fact.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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