One in 20 men in the UK are suffering in silence with a condition called Peyronie’s disease, which causes an erect penis to bend and shorten.

A survey conducted by the British Dupuytren’s Society to mark Men’s Health Week, has revealed that 11% of sufferers are so embarrassed about it, they haven’t even told a doctor, while 20% felt they would be laughed at if they talked about Peyronie’s.

The condition can have a huge impact on a sufferer’s mental health, with 60% of men admitting they’re had depression after their diagnosis, while 25% are no longer sexually active – and for 10% their relationship actually ended because of it.

Birgir Gislason, trustee of the British Dupuytren’s Society, which supports those with Peyronie’s and other linked conditions, told the Daily Express: ‘It’s time we started talking about this and the effect it is having on men.

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“At present, men with this condition are isolated and depressed, with many offered no solutions from their doctor despite the fact there are treatments out there.”

What is Peyronie’s disease?

The condition, which gets its name from Francois Gigot de LaPeyronie, King Louis XV’s surgeon, who first described it in 1743, is caused when scar tissue forms in the shaft of the penis, possibly from an injury. The tissue turns into a hard lump of collagen or plaque which makes the penis bend when it becomes erect.

The curve to the penis can make having erections extremely painful and mean it’s difficult to have sex.

Peyronie’s is most common in men between 45 and 65, according to the British Dupuytren’s Society, but it’s possible for younger men to get it too.

Along with erectile dysfunction, it’s more common in men with diabetes – and there’s a link to high blood pressure and the medication used to treat it, as well a vitamin E deficiency.

While one in 10 cases will resolve themselves, treatments are available and include oral drugs, injections to break down the plaque and surgery, as a last resort.

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What are the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease?

The British Dupuytren’s Society lists the following symptoms and recommends those who are worried should visit their GP, who can refer you to a urologist.

- Scar tissue/plaque: A thickened area or a hard lump (plaque) on the shaft of the penis, which can be felt when the penis is flaccid (not erect).
- Bend or curve: It’s normal for the penis to curve slightly when erect, but if this has changed or is painful then it could indicate Peyronie’s disease. The penis could be curved to the left, right or upwards, in a way that it has not done before.
- Change in shape: The penis may have a different shape, often described as an ‘hourglass’.
- Pain: Pain in the penis, due to the curve, can occur when it is erect and/or during intercourse. Not everyone with the condition has pain.
- Difficulty obtaining an erection: It may not even be possible to get a full erection, or to maintain one, because blood flow may be inhibited.
- Different size: the penis may become shorter, or the girth may be reduced.
- Erectile dysfunction: Peyronie’s disease can inhibit erections and lead to erectile dysfunction.

Have you ever heard of Peyronie’s disease before? Tell us in the comments box below