Peyronie’s (pronounced " pay-ROH-neez ") disease is the development of scar tissue, also known as a Peyronie’s plaque, under the skin of the penis, which causes it to bend or curve during an erection.2
The plaque is made from a substance called collagen and in Peyronie's disease most commonly occurs on the topside of the penis, however a plaque may form anywhere along the shaft of the penis.3 Some men can feel the Peyronie’s plaque as a bump directly under the skin.
Unlike normal tissue of the penis, the Peyronie’s plaque is unable to stretch so when you have an erection your penis can’t expand in the area where the Peyronie’s plaque is located. As a result, during an erection the penis becomes curved on the same side that the Peyronie’s plaque is located.
The most common location of a Peyronie's plaque is on the top of the penis, and therefore the most common direction of a curve during an erection is upwards. However, the Peyronie's plaque can develop anywhere along the shaft of the penis, and depending on where the plaque is located, this may result in the erect penis being curved to the left or to the right, and less commonly downwards.
Illustration of a Peyronie’s plaque
The cause of Peyronie’s disease is not clear, but doctors believe that in some men injury to the penis (for example excessive bending or trauma during sexual intercourse) results in scarring. Genetic factors might also play a role in some men.3
Peyronie’s disease is unlikely to go away on its own, and may get worse over time.1
The first sign that men with Peyronie's disease may notice is a curve in their erect penis, while other men may notice lumps or nodules. Erections can also be painful due to inflammation or swelling. This stage (referred to as the ‘acute phase’) typically lasts from 6–18 months after which the pain usually goes away, but in most cases the curve will remain.4
For a small number of men with Peyronie's disease – around 12% – the problem eventually goes away without any treatment.1, 2, 4
For some men the symptoms remain constant, however it is possible that the symptoms may get worse over time if left untreated.1, 2, 4
If you have a curve or bend in your penis during an erection that bothers you, or think you might have Peyronie's disease, the best thing you can do is speak with your doctor. Your doctor might refer you to a urologist or a sexual health physician, who are doctors specialising in problems related to the penis.
Early diagnosis will allow your doctor to determine the best way to manage your Peyronie’s disease.