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Peyronie's Disease: Is surgery the only option?

While the majority of men have a very slight curve or sideways "hang" to the penis, about 400 men in every 100,000 suffer from the condition of severely bent or curved erect penis.

In the medical community this condition is known as Peyronie's Disease, and is also sometimes called fibrous caverositis or the condition of having fibrous scar tissue building up in the layers of erectile tissue (cavernosa).

This ailment is so extreme that it makes intercourse painful or completely impossible for both partners. Sometimes this affliction causes the erect penis to bend in a "J" or "U" shape, while other times it may have a series of bends that create an almost corkscrew-like appearance.

What Causes Peyronies Disease?

Although physicians disagree about the exact cause of Peyronie's, it's known that the condition occurs when inelastic plaque or scar tissue replaces the normally elastic tissue of some part of the penis.

In a normal man, an erection expands the elastic tissue of the penis more or less symmetrically, producing a straight erection. However, since scar tissue is not elastic, but rather hard, it remains firm while other parts of the penis engorge, resulting in curvature or severe bending. If the scar tissue extends all the way around the shaft of the penis, the result is either a "bottleneck" or pinching-in at that location, or even a drastic shortening of the penis.

It is widely believed that this unfortunate condition may begin with injury, inflammation, or trauma of some sort to the erect penis, such as forceful bending. Others have developed Peyronie's after attempts to treat erectile dysfunction through injections (the most common drug used for this is called Caverject).

Some doctors also suspect that other medical conditions may influence the onset of Peyronies, such as high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries or diabetes, which may be linked to other rare genetic diseases. Currently, however, the most likely reason is thought to be some sort of trauma followed by slow or abnormal healing.

Surgery For Treating Peyronies Disease

Since every case of Peyronies is different, so too are there many treatments available. For some men, this condition will improve spontaneously without treatment within a year or two, and scar tissue may even disappear. Unfortunately, about 40% of men will see no change within that time frame and another 40% may even see the condition worsen.

For some men, surgery is the logical choice, though physicians generally suggest waiting at least a year or two before surgical attempts to correct it are made. During this waiting period, most patients will try other treatments first, with the thought that surgery is a last-resort, drastic choice.

Currently there are two popular types of surgeries available. The Nesbit procedure, the most common surgery for this condtion, often results in a shortening of the penis by 1 to 2 inches. The other procedure replaces scar tissue with grafted tissue but may result in partial or complete loss of erectile function. In these cases, prior to surgery and during the "waiting period," alternative treatments are certainly worthwhile and more effective than doing nothing at all. They are also infinitely preferable given the extreme nature of the surgical treatments.

Traction Devices For Home Treatment

One of the newest and best documented self-treatments for peyronies available right now is in the form of traction devices. Highly successful corrective devices like this penis straightener work by gently applying consistent, measured traction to the penis to counteract the hardening of scar tissue while straightening the penis.

Penis Straightening Without Surgery

These devices are used in clinics and hospitals throughout the US and Europe by post penis surgery patients to ensure proper healing, and are also offered by many doctors as an alternative to surgery. They can be worn discreetly under clothing and should be used consistently over the course of months. The benefits of traction-device treatment include no side effects, low cost compared to surgery, and the advantage of at-home treatment without the trauma and risks of surgery.

Along with this treatment, many men add Vitamin E, researched thoroughly regarding its effectiveness against penile curvature. Another natural supplement used by Peyronie's sufferers is Potaba, or potassium amonobenzoate. While this has been shown to yield some benefits, the cost can be high since the therapy requires 24 pills a day for up to 6 months.

There are a number of other oral medications and supplements available by prescription for Peyronie's disease. For any of these approaches, men are advised to consult a physician.

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