What is Peyronie’s Disease?


Peyronie’s disease, commonly referred to as curvature of the penis, is a benign condition. It begins when a dense scar tissue (plaque) forms in the outer layers of the penis. The plaque prevents an even expansion during an erection causing a variety of penile deformities during the erect state including curvature, shortening and narrowing.


Peyronie’s disease plaques mostly (70% of the time) form on the top (or dorsal side) of the penis. The plaques make the tunica albuginea less flexible and may cause the penis to bend upwards when it stiffens. When plaques form on the bottom or side of the penis, the bend will be downward or sideways. Some men have more than one plaque, which may cause complex curves.

Sometimes plaques form that go all the way around the penis. These plaques most often do not cause curving but may cause the shaft of the penis to narrow like the neck of a bottle. This is sometimes called “bottle-necking” or “waisting”. In bad cases, the plaque may collect calcium and become very hard, almost like a bone. Men may also notice their penis has shrunk or gotten shorter.

Other signs that you may have Peyronie’s disease are:

  • bent/curved penis
  • lumps in the penis
  • painful erections
  • soft erections
  • having trouble with sex because of a bent/curved penis

Peyronie’s disease can make your quality of life worse. Over 75 out of 100 men with Peyronie’s disease are stressed and depressed because of it. Unfortunately, many men with Peyronie’s disease are embarrassed and choose to suffer in silence rather than get help.


The cause of Peyronie’s disease isn’t completely understood, but a number of factors appear to be involved.

It’s thought Peyronie’s disease generally results from repeated injury to the penis. For example, the penis might be damaged during sex, athletic activity or as the result of an accident. However, most often, no specific trauma to the penis is recalled.

During the healing process after injury to the penis, scar tissue forms in a disorganized manner. This can lead to a nodule you can feel or development of curvature.

Each side of the penis contains a spongelike tube (corpus cavernosum) that contains many tiny blood vessels. Each of the corpora cavernosa is encased in a sheath of elastic tissue called the tunica albuginea (TOO-nih-kuh al-BYOO-JIN-e-uh), which stretches during an erection.

When you become sexually aroused, blood flow to these chambers increases. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis expands, straightens and stiffens into an erection.

In Peyronie’s disease, when the penis becomes erect, the region with the scar tissue doesn’t stretch, and the penis bends or becomes disfigured and possibly painful.

In some men, Peyronie’s disease comes on gradually and doesn’t seem to be related to an injury. Researchers are investigating whether Peyronie’s disease might be linked to an inherited trait or certain health conditions.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is Peyronie’s disease diagnosed?

A healthcare provider can diagnose Peyronie’s disease. They’ll review your medical history and ask questions about your symptoms, which may include:

  • When did you first notice the curve in your penis?
  • Have you lost length?
  • How much length have you lost?
  • In which direction does your penis bend?
  • Approximately how many degrees is your bend?
  • Is having sex difficult or painful?
  • Is having sex painful for your partner?
  • How hard or strong are your erections?
  • Do you have erectile dysfunction?
  • Does anyone in your biological family have Peyronie’s disease, Dupuytren contracture or another connective tissue disorder?
  • Do you have any other conditions, including diabetes or an autoimmune disorder?
  • What medications are you taking?

The provider will also conduct a physical examination. During the physical exam, they’ll feel the scarring in your penis. They may need to examine your penis when you have an erection. If necessary, they may give you an injection (vasoactive drug) that temporarily makes your penis erect.


What tests will be done to diagnose Peyronie’s disease?

A healthcare provider may recommend a penile duplex Doppler ultrasound examination to help diagnose Peyronie’s disease. An ultrasound is a type of imaging test that helps:

  • Reveal where the scarring is in your penis.
  • Check for calcium buildup.
  • Show how blood flows in your penis.

Ultrasound also allows providers to determine the best treatment for you.


Common Questions

Peyronie’s disease was initially described by the French surgeon, François Gigot de Lapeyronie, in 1743 even though there are vague references to the disease going back all the way to 1561 and even in sculpture dating back to 3000 BC. Peyronie’s is not a new disease.3-4

Men most often identify Peyronie’s with penile curvature, indentation or other deformities. Deformities associated with Peyronie’s disease may be severe enough to prevent intercourse or, at a minimum, may reduce overall satisfaction. Other symptoms may include inflammation, a lump in the shaft of the penis, pain and erectile dysfunction. As a result, PD can be both physically and psychologically difficult for men and may negatively impact their relationship.5-12

Although PD has been recognized and studied for more than 250 years, many misconceptions remain. Common misconceptions include the belief that PD is uncommon, only affects older men, is not associated with ED, lacks treatment options, and resolves over time. None of these statements are true!

Another common and widespread misconception is that men should wait to treat PD until it is at least 6 – 12 months after the disease has progressed. While this is true for men undergoing surgery, the opposite is true for conservative, less invasive treatments such as traction therapy. A study by Martinez–Salamanca and colleagues clearly demonstrated the benefits with using traction therapy early on in the disease process.13-14

The true prevalence of PD is not known.  Depending on the definition of the disease, age, and methods to diagnose, the condition is estimated to affect anywhere from 0.4% to 13% of men. PD is more common in Caucasian men of Northern European origin but can affect men of any heritage. PD may be more common following prostatectomy (16%) or in diabetic men with ED (20%).15-22

Some men are not aware that they have the disease and it is estimated that 15-58% of men may be unaware of the condition.

Peyronie’s disease has two distinct phases characterized by different symptoms. In the early, also called the acute, phase men may experience painful erections, a plaque or bump in the penis, a curved (bent) erection, or a combination of these factors. Not all PD patients experience penile pain or discomfort; however, when present, the pain typically ends 12 to 18 months after the disease starts. In addition, many men notice a decrease in the length of their penis over the first 18 months.

The late or chronic phase begins approximately 6 to 18 months after the first symptoms. During the chronic phase, pain and inflammation typically end and a bend in the penis becomes evident and may worsen.

Physicians refer to Peyronie’s disease as a sustained or progressive disease. Regardless, the belief that PD will resolve without treatment over time persists. This belief sometimes presents an obstacle to early treatment that may benefit many men.

Although not all men with Peyronie’s disease will experience worsening erections, in some cases, Peyronie’s can severely deform the penis.  This can result in narrowing, buckling or softening of erections. Peyronie’s may also result in painful erections or tenderness at the location of the plaque which may also worsen erections. The misconception that PD is not associated with ED may contribute to a delay in men seeking treatment for the condition. Sometimes patients are misdiagnosed with ED instead of PD. Over half of men reported sexual function worsened over the course of the disease.

Peyronie’s disease can happen to men at any age but is most common among those ages 40 – 60.  It is more common in Caucasians, those who have undergone pelvic surgeries like a prostatectomy, and among those men with certain health conditions such as diabetes.5,6,8,24,25

The causes of PD are not completely understood but it is believed that it originates from trauma or repeated microtrauma to the erect penis in genetically susceptible men, leading to symptoms such as inflammation, a lump or plaque in the shaft, pain, and deformities of the penis such as curvature.

PD can cause anxiety, depression, low self-worth, and compromise men’s relationships. Although not much research has been done, it is believed that early identification and treatment of PD may dramatically improve psychological distress particularly for patients who receive timely information and reassurance about the disease and its treatment options. 9-12

Oral Supplements, Injections and Minimally Invasive Treatments

Supplements and vitamins during the initial onset of PD attempt to reduce swelling, pain, and plaque. No oral therapies have been definitively shown to improve the condition, including curvature, penile length or overall disease progression.

Penile injections are often prescribed to treat PD and may include Xiaflex®, interferon or verapamil. Xiaflex has been cleared by the FDA to treat PD and has demonstrated improvement in penile curvature without impacting penile length or pain. Since the introduction of Xiaflex, interferon and verapamil are less commonly used in current practice.

Likewise, other minimally-invasive techniques such as extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) may be used to improve pain but are not recommended to treat penile curvature or plaques. Similarly, a trial including iontophoresis with or without verapamil injections demonstrated minimal improvement relative to no treatment at all.

The role of vacuum erection devices in treating Peyronie’s disease is currently unknown.  Although a small study suggested improvements when used early in the disease process, it did not include a control group, and therefore the benefits are unclear.26, 27



Surgery is considered the gold-standard therapy for men with PD which has not responded to conservative treatment. To undergo surgery, PD must be stable for at least 6-12 months. The surgical procedure performed depends on several factors including the amount and location of the bend, erectile function prior to PD, patient goals, and surgeon preference. Although surgery corrects curvature in the majority of cases, it may lead to irreversible side effects in some cases including decreased penile length/volume, decreased penile sensation, erectile dysfunction, or recurrence over time. Perhaps because of these side effects, fewer than 30% of men with PD choose to undergo surgery.


Penile Traction Therapy

Penile traction therapy (PTT) consists of any treatment designed to lengthen or straighten the penis through mechanical forces. PTT is increasingly popular because of its relatively non-invasive nature, low cost, and minimal side effects and the lack of good alternatives to restore lost penile length.

The scientific basis for use of traction therapy is well established.  Traction creates mechanical stresses that alter cellular function particularly in cases of fibrosis and, as a result, re-orient collagen fibrils.1,2

Several clinical studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of PTT on curvature correction and restoration of penile length in men with PD.  In an early study without a control group, traction improved curvature and length.  The study was too small, however, to determine if these findings were due to chance alone.28  In a larger study of men with chronic PD (average duration of 16 months), PTT improved length compare to baseline.29  One study which specifically evaluated men in the acute phase of PD demonstrated significant improvements in penile curvature. Other studies have also shown possible roles for PTT with other conditions including as a primary lengthening therapy, for use prior to penile prosthesis placement, or as a temporary or long-term treatment after PD surgery.30-34

In 2015, a consensus panel convened to “summarize the current literature and provide clinical guidelines on penile traction therapy, vacuum erection devices, and penile revascularization.” Consensus panels are convened frequently because “the field of sexual medicine is continuously advancing, with novel outcomes reported on a regular basis. Given the rapid evolution, updated guidelines are essential to inform practicing clinicians on best practices”.

The panel held its meeting during the 2015 International Consultation on Sexual Medicine (ICSM) and the results were published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2016.

Regarding Penile Traction Therapy and based on the literature present at the time of their meeting, the panel made these summary recommendations regarding traction therapy.

  1. Penile traction therapy (PTT) is a viable treatment option to modestly improve penile length (level of evidence (LOE) = 2; strength of recommendation = B; recommended).
  2. Penile traction can be used adjunctively before penile prosthesis (PP) placement in men with decreased penile length or after surgery for Peyronie’s disease (PD) to optimize patient outcomes (level of evidence (LOE) = 3; strength of recommendation = C; Option).
  3. PTT can correct curvature in men presenting during the acute phase of PD (level of evidence (LOE) = 2; strength of recommendation = C; Option).
  4. The benefits of PTT in men with PD in the chronic phase of disease are unclear (LOE) = 3; strength of recommendation = C; Option).

Trost LW, Munarriz R, Wang R, Morey A, Levine L. External Mechanical Devices and Vascular Surgery for Erectile Dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine. 2016;13: 1579-617.

[1] Alenghat FJ, Ingber DE. Mechanotransduction: all signals point to cytoskeleton, matrix, and integrins. Science’s STKE : signal transduction knowledge environment. 2002;2002: pe6.

[2] Chung E, De Young L, Solomon M, Brock GB. Peyronie’s disease and mechanotransduction: an in vitro analysis of the cellular changes to Peyronie’s disease in a cell-culture strain system. The journal of sexual medicine. 2013;10: 1259-67.

[3] Laios K, Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Androutsos G. Peyronie’s disease in Minoan art. The journal of sexual medicine. 2013;10: 3144-5.

[4] Jalkut M, Gonzalez-Cadavid N, Rajfer J. Peyronie’s disease: A Review. Reviews in urology. 2003;5: 142-8.

[5] Kadioglu A, Tefekli A, Erol B, Oktar T, Tunc M, Tellaloglu S. A retrospective review of 307 men with Peyronie’s disease. The Journal of urology. 2002;168: 1075-9.

[6] Rhoden EL, Riedner CE, Fuchs SC, Ribeiro EP, Halmenschlager G. A cross-sectional study for the analysis of clinical, sexual and laboratory conditions associated to Peyronie’s disease. The journal of sexual medicine. 2010;7: 1529-37.

[7] Kadioglu A, Oktar T, Kandirali E, Kendirci M, Sanli O, Ozsoy C. Incidentally diagnosed Peyronie’s disease in men presenting with erectile dysfunction. International journal of impotence research. 2004;16: 540-3.

[8] Chung E, Yan H, De Young L, Brock GB. Penile Doppler sonographic and clinical characteristics in Peyronie’s disease and/or erectile dysfunction: an analysis of 1500 men with male sexual dysfunction. BJU international. 2012;110: 1201-5.

[9] Smith JF, Walsh TJ, Conti SL, Turek P, Lue T. Risk factors for emotional and relationship problems in Peyronie’s disease. The journal of sexual medicine. 2008;5: 2179-84.

[10] Gelbard M, Lipshultz LI, Tursi J, Smith T, Kaufman G, Levine LA. Phase 2b study of the clinical efficacy and safety of collagenase Clostridium histolyticum in patients with Peyronie disease. The Journal of urology. 2012;187: 2268-74.

[11] Gelbard MK, Dorey F, James K. The natural history of Peyronie’s disease. The Journal of urology. 1990;144: 1376-9.

[12] Nelson CJ, Diblasio C, Kendirci M, Hellstrom W, Guhring P, Mulhall JP. The chronology of depression and distress in men with Peyronie’s disease. The journal of sexual medicine. 2008;5: 1985-90.

[13] Martinez-Salamanca JI, Egui A, Moncada I, et al. Acute phase Peyronie’s disease management with traction device: a nonrandomized prospective controlled trial with ultrasound correlation. The journal of sexual medicine. 2014;11: 506-15.

[14] LaRochelle JC, Levine LA. A Survey of primary-care physicians and urologists regarding Peyronie’s disease. The journal of sexual medicine. 2007;4: 1167-73.

[15] Lindsay MB, Schain DM, Grambsch P, Benson RC, Beard CM, Kurland LT. The incidence of Peyronie’s disease in Rochester, Minnesota, 1950 through 1984. The Journal of urology. 1991;146: 1007-9.

[16] Dibenedetti DB, Nguyen D, Zografos L, Ziemiecki R, Zhou X. A Population-Based Study of Peyronie’s disease: Prevalence and Treatment Patterns in the United States. Advances in urology. 2011;2011: 282503.

[17] Schwarzer U, Sommer F, Klotz T, Braun M, Reifenrath B, Engelmann U. The prevalence of Peyronie’s disease: results of a large survey. BJU international. 2001;88: 727-30.

[18] Rhoden EL, Teloken C, Ting HY, Lucas ML, Teodosio da Ros C, Ary Vargas Souto C. Prevalence of Peyronie’s disease in men over 50-y-old from Southern Brazil. International journal of impotence research. 2001;13: 291-3.

[19] La Pera G, Pescatori ES, Calabrese M, et al. Peyronie’s disease: prevalence and association with cigarette smoking. A multicenter population-based study in men aged 50-69 years. European urology. 2001;40: 525-30.

[20] Mulhall JP, Creech SD, Boorjian SA, et al. Subjective and objective analysis of the prevalence of Peyronie’s disease in a population of men presenting for prostate cancer screening. The Journal of urology. 2004;171: 2350-3.

[21] Tal R, Heck M, Teloken P, Siegrist T, Nelson CJ, Mulhall JP. Peyronie’s disease following radical prostatectomy: incidence and predictors. The journal of sexual medicine. 2010;7: 1254-61.

[22] Arafa M, Eid H, El-Badry A, Ezz-Eldine K, Shamloul R. The prevalence of Peyronie’s disease in diabetic patients with erectile dysfunction. International journal of impotence research. 2007;19: 213-7.

[23] Trost LW, Munarriz R, Wang R, Morey A, Levine L. External Mechanical Devices and Vascular Surgery for Erectile Dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine. 2016;13: 1579-617.

[24] Mulhall JP, Schiff J, Guhring P. An analysis of the natural history of Peyronie’s disease. The Journal of urology. 2006;175: 2115-8; discussion 18.

[25] Grasso M, Lania C, Blanco S, Limonta G. The natural history of Peyronie’s disease. Archivos espanoles de urologia. 2007;60: 326-31.

[26] Nehra A, Alterowitz R, Culkin DJ, et al. Peyronie’s disease: AUA Guideline. AUA; 2015.

[27] Raheem AA, Garaffa G, Raheem TA, et al. The role of vacuum pump therapy to mechanically straighten the penis in Peyronie’s disease. BJU international. 2010;106: 1178-80.

[28] Levine LA, Newell M, Taylor FL. Penile traction therapy for treatment of Peyronie’s disease: a single-center pilot study. The journal of sexual medicine. 2008;5: 1468-73.

[29] Gontero P, Di Marco M, Giubilei G, et al. Use of penile extender device in the treatment of penile curvature as a result of Peyronie’s disease. Results of a phase II prospective study. The journal of sexual medicine. 2009;6: 558-66.

[30] Nikoobakht M, Shahnazari A, Rezaeidanesh M, Mehrsai A, Pourmand G. Effect of penile-extender device in increasing penile size in men with shortened penis: preliminary results. The journal of sexual medicine. 2011;8: 3188-92.

[31] Nowroozi MR, Amini E, Ayati M, Jamshidian H, Radkhah K, Amini S. Applying extender devices in patients with penile dysmorphophobia: assessment of tolerability, efficacy, and impact on erectile function. The journal of sexual medicine. 2015;12: 1242-7.

[32] Oderda M, Gontero P. Comment on: applying extender devices in patients with penile dysmorphophobia: assessment of tolerability, efficacy, and impact on erectile function. The journal of sexual medicine. 2015;12: 1248.

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[34] Rybak J, Papagiannopoulos D, Levine L. A retrospective comparative study of traction therapy vs. no traction following tunica albuginea plication or partial excision and grafting for Peyronie’s disease: measured lengths and patient perceptions. The journal of sexual medicine. 2012;9: 2396-403.

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