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Erectile Tissue Damage: Common Signs and Treatments

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Does the skin of your penis hurt every time you get an erection?

You may be suffering from Peyronie’s disease. This condition is when plaque starts to accumulate under the skin of the penis, causing curved, painful erections due to erectile tissue damage.

This disease affects more than 600,000 adult men in the US, mostly in their later years. However, it can occur in men as young as their 30s in some rare cases.

Unfortunately, this type of disease rarely goes away on its own. But it can be controlled and treated to prevent it from getting worse.

Let’s look at the signs of erectile tissue damage and possible treatments.

Peyronie’s Disease – What Causes It?

Rigorous Sex and Masturbation

Peyronie’s disease is caused by trauma or injury to the penis, usually through sexual intercourse or rough masturbation. It’s most frequent during rigorous sex when the partner’s pubic bone applies too much pressure on the erect penis, making it bend. (i.g. woman-on-top positions) This is noticeable in men who already have a slight erectile dysfunction since their erection isn’t fully hard and can be torn during intercourse.

It also occurs during accidents during sports, rough masturbation induced by porn, or outdoor activities. When the tunica albuginea, or the skin tissue that promotes blood flow to the penis, gets injured and causes the formation of scar tissue in the cells (fibrosis), blood flow decreases in the affected areas.

This causes plaque to build up, making it hard for the penis to stay erect due to scarring and penile injuries.

Scarring is normally not a bad thing. It’s the body’s natural response to patching up the cells and preventing bleeding and infection.

However, scarring also fails to let the skin expand as normal. This can cause an imbalance as the healthy side of the penis expands, while the injured side doesn’t. In turn, this can cause narrowing on the penis, which inhibits the flow of blood and makes the penis unstable when erect.

Autoimmune Diseases

Men predisposed with autoimmune diseases have a larger risk of suffering from Peyronie’s disease. Their cells might start attacking the skin of the penis, damaging it in the process.

Common autoimmune diseases that increase the risk of men contracting Peyronie’s disease include:

  1. Sjögren’s syndrome: Causes inflammation and damage to glands responsible for saliva and tears.
  2. Systemic lupus erythematosus: Inflammation to various major organs including blood vessels, brain, heart, skin, and lungs.
  3. Behçet’s disease: Inflammation to the blood vessels.

Aside from that, diabetes also increases the risk of getting Peyronie’s disease.

Genetic Factors

If your father or brother has an erectile tissue disease like Peyronie’s disease, you may have an increased risk of developing the symptoms too.

Symptoms of Erectile Tissue Damage

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You may develop Peyronie’s disease gradually or at once.

Here are the common symptoms of this form of erectile dysfunction.

  • Shortened penis: You may have developed a shorter penis size than normal.
  • Pain in the area: You may develop a penile injury that hurts with or without an erection.
  • Severe erectile dysfunction (ED): You might have difficulty getting hard or maintaining an erection.
  • Penile deformity: Your penis could narrow, look like an hourglass, or have indentations.
  • Significant bend in the penis: You might have penile curvature caused by a penile fracture

The pain is at its worst at the onset but it typically stabilizes after 12 to 24 months for some men. Others may experience pain during ejaculation and maintain a slight erectile dysfunction indefinitely.

Moreover, the curvature, scar tissue, and penile shortening often persist. But for some rare cases, the pain and curvature can improve without treatment.

Mental health problems such as depression are also common in men with erectile dysfunction diseases – affecting up to 75% of men.

Treatment of Peyronie’s Disease

Treating Peyronie’s disease focuses on reducing pain. A urologist is responsible for treating Peyronie’s disease. They’ll look into your medical and family history and conduct a physical exam to determine your specific situation.

For lucky individuals or about 13 out of 100 people, the scar tissue will heal on its own. Doctors believe that surgery during the first year is still not necessary, more so for men who don’t encounter problems during sex. However, it’s crucial to understand that treatment also differs based on the individual.

These differences can be classified into two phases: Active and Passive.

Active Phase

During the active phase, the man will feel a throbbing pain and injury to their penis. It happens when the penis is both flaccid and erect. Men will also experience penile tenderness and curvature during this time.

According to Dr. Brad Figler, an assistant urology professor of UNC School of Medicine, the actions taken are catered on a case-by-case basis to deal with the symptoms. In 74% of erectile dysfunction cases, patients don’t proceed to surgery, although natural treatments may prove effective.

Passive Phase

For the passive phase, treatment on the scar tissue is more in-depth. Medication is injected into the affected scar tissue to remove it. This process gives way for surgery to be performed.

This process tries to restore the penis and make it symmetrical again through surgery. This could be approached in one of two ways: either to make the affected scar tissue expand longer, or make the healthy tissue shorter.

Cutting the healthy side of the penis shorter is called plication. It’s a short, non-invasive surgery that takes less than an hour. The doctors insert a pleat on the erectile tissue to eliminate the curvature and make both sides the same length.

Invasive grafting is a surgery that makes the shorter side longer. Doctors operate on the scar tissue by incisions allowing it to expand. This is usually performed only when the curvature and narrowing are severe.

A penile prosthesis is another alternative to help straighten the penis out. This occurs in cases where there’s such severe erectile dysfunction that the only solution to alleviate major pain and curvature is through invasive implants.

When Should I Consult a Sexual Health Specialist?

consult sexual health specialist peyronie’s erectile dysfunction treatment

Consult your physician as soon as you suspect that you have developed symptoms of Peyronie’s disease. Getting access to early treatment prevents the worsening of Peyronie’s disease—and it gives you the best chance at mitigating any further risk factors for a healthy life.

If the pain has negatively affected your normal life and sex life, visit a doctor immediately to have it treated. While they may not be able to fully alleviate all the symptoms of the disease, they can recommend to you courses of action to prevent it from getting worse.

If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction (ED) or low testosterone, call the team at Proactive Men’s Medical Center now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff. We are one of Cincinnati’s leading men’s clinics providing ED therapy, PE therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, hormone therapy, and much more.

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