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What Is It?

Peyronie's disease is a curve in the penis.

Many men have a slight curve in the penis. As long as there is no pain or problem with sexual performance, men with a slightly curved penis should not be concerned. They do not need to see a doctor.

However, some men develop a more serious bend in the penis. This bend interferes with sexual function or causes pain.

This occasionally happens after the penis is injured. Injury may occur during intercourse or from a motor vehicle or industrial accident. Most cases, however, are the result of a poorly understood process known as Peyronie's disease.

In Peyronie's disease, inflammation and scar tissue form along the shaft of the penis. No one is certain why this problem occurs. It may be triggered by repeated mild trauma during sexual intercourse.

You may feel the inflammation and scar tissue as a painful lump or area of unusual firmness. In many men, the scar tissue causes the penis to bend or shorten. This is because it prevents the penis from expanding normally.

Men with Peyronie's often have difficulty achieving a firm erection. But it is unclear whether this occurs first or is caused by the scar tissue.

Most men with the problem are between the ages of 45 and 60. The disease runs in families.

In one-third of men, Peyronie's is associated with the formation of scar tissue in other parts of the body. These include the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and the eardrums.

Sometimes, a serious curvature of the penis is seen in boys at or shortly after birth. This is not Peyronie's disease. Most of these cases are thought to be caused by abnormal development in the womb. They may be associated with other abnormalities of the penis.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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