Discovered as early as 1743, Peyronie’s disease affects men anywhere from 30-90 years of age, and presents itself as a curve or deformation of the penis while erect, along with hardened skin within the shaft of the penis. (1) At times, this disease also correlates with erectile dysfunction, causing pain and discomfort to those affected. A study performed over a span of 35 years showed that the average age that men tend to develop this particular disease is 53 years of age; and, playing a big role in Peyronie’s disease is the occurrence of erectile dysfunction, which correlates with approximately 30% percent of cases. (1)
There are several reasons why erectile dysfunction plays a part in Peyronie’s disease, but the most prevalent ones are as follows: an abnormality in the penis that prevents sexual intercourse, hardened skin within the penis, decreased cardiovascular function, and emotional stress and other associated feelings (guilt, shame, etc.) because of how the penis looks. (1) Another study done with men with Peyronie’s disease showed that a good majority of the men researched had some type of cardiovascular disease or blocked veins that deliver blood to the liver, which is hopefully key in determining how to determine different options for treatment, for both erectile dysfunction as well as Peyronie’s disease. (1)
Awhile ago, it was thought that Peyronie’s disease would naturally resolve itself without any issues – however, over a five-year span of time, men with this disease have had several different resolutions. Some of the men noticed their condition worsen, some maintained their condition, and others noticed improvement. When Peyronie’s initially begins, many men begin to notice pain when their penis is erect, and a possible change in the curve as well as the hardening of the skin in the penis. (1) Not all men present with pain though; the curving of the penis in some isn’t painful at all.
So, what is the main cause of Peyronie’s disease? Several studies have found a connection between men that have experienced some sort of trauma to the penis (microtrauma that is typically experienced the most during sexual intercourse) and the occurrence of Peyronie’s disease, as well as erectile dysfunction. (1) With over 13% of men being diagnosed with this condition, it’s important to realize that this kind of trauma can cause the hardened skin, or fibrous plaque, to build up within the penis, and this is important to know in order to find out how we can remedy it. (2)
Aside from the physical aspects of Peyronie’s disease, there are other symptoms that can be present as well – and these are the emotional and psychological ones. Reducing the ability to function sexually can be very stressful for both men and their partners, often leading to feelings of guilt, shame, depression, and embarrassment; these feelings can also grow over time, especially if the disease progresses or there is no resolve within the condition. (2)
Thankfully, there are new and upcoming ways to be able to help treat Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction – one of those being shock wave therapy. Also called extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT, this method of treatment sends low intensity waves into the specified tissue of the penis through a probe, which internally causes microscopic trauma to the tissue. This in turn causes the body to increase blood supply to the area, facilitating the healing process. (3)
This treatment is considered conservative for men suffering from Peyronie’s disease, and discovering the improvements that can be seen within shock wave therapy is imperative. A pool of studies done over a month’s time determined that there are short term results from this procedure, as well as longer than that. (4) Other studies have shown that there is a decrease in the pain associated with Peyronie’s disease, and men have noticed improvement in both their erectile function as well as with their overall quality of life and emotional wellbeing. (5)
More research needs to be done, but shock wave therapy is looking promising in the realm of helping to treat not only Peyronie’s disease, but also erectile dysfunction, and improving the lifestyle and sexual function of men affected with these conditions.
(1) Jalkut, M., Gonzalez-Cadavid, N., & Rajfer, J. (2003). Peyronie’s Disease: A Review. Reviews in Urology, 5(3), pp. 142-148.
(2) Bilgutay, A. N., and Pastuszak, A. W. (2015). PEYRONIE’S DISEASE: A REVIEW OF ETIOLOGY, DIAGNOSIS, AND MANAGEMENT. Current sexual health reports, 7(2), pp. 117-131.
(3) Gruenwald, I., Appel, B., Kitrey, N. D., and Vardi, Y. (2013). Shockwave treatment of erectile dysfunction. Therapeutic Advances in Urology, 5(2), pp. 95-99.
(4) Angulo, J., Arance, I., de Las Heras, M., Meilan, E., Esquinas, C., and Andres, E. (2017). Efficacy of low-intensity shock wave therapy for erectile dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis Therapy efficacy shockwave low intensity for erectile dysfunction: systematic review and meta-analysis. Spanish Urological Records (English Edition), 41(8), pp. 479-490.
(5) Palmieri, A., Imbimbo, C., Longo, N., Fusco, F., Verze, P., Mangiapia, F., Creta, M., and Mirone, V. (2009). A first prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating extracorporeal shock wave therapy for the treatment of Peyronie’s disease. European Urology, 56(2), pp. 43-44.
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