A curve or bend in the penis when erect is a normal and common physical condition – an upward curve being the most common. Generally speaking, a slight upward curve is anatomically normal and often desirable. In some cases, the curve may be downwards or to the left or right. Again, in general, this is relatively normal – the penis coming in many shapes and sizes.
However, in a small number of cases, the bend or curve can be more extreme and this may cause pain during sex – for either the individual or their partner – or in severe cases difficulty in having sex. It is not unusual for curvature to develop unexpectedly, either suddenly or over a period of time. In this case it’s possible that a condition known as Peyronie’s disease may be the cause.
Generally, Peyronie’s disease affects men over the age of 35-40 but it can present at any age and is believed to affect around 9% of men. The majority of cases of penile curvature can easily be treated and should not be a cause for concern. However, if you notice any lumps, bumps or bending of the penis you should visit your GP as quickly as possible to establish the cause. Lumps appearing in the penis are most likely a sign of Peyronie’s disease and it’s important to note that this is not a form of cancer.
Penile Curvature – Common Causes
There are two main causes for the penis to curve excessively in a non-standard way; the first one being a congenital birth defect which is present from birth but may not become apparent until puberty or later. Congenital penile curvature may be an inherited condition with a genetic cause but can occur randomly. Generally, it results when one side of the penis is larger or more elastic than the other, resulting moderate to severe curvature when erect.
The second cause, Peyronie’s disease, can occur at any time of life and, although the causes are not fully understood, the two main reasons for developing the condition appear to be the result of minor injuries to the penis when erect or a build-up of scar tissue formed by plaque in the shaft of the penis. For many men suffering from a bent penis (caused by either congenital or Peyronie’s disease) physical pain, discomfort or difficulty in having sex may not be an issue but in a small number of cases these problems may occur.
Peyronie’s disease, in a handful of cases, may result in the eventual onset of erectile dysfunction, which can cause problems in achieving or maintaining an erection and in achieving sexual climax.
Symptoms and Implications
Without meaning to be too brazen, symptoms include the obvious, a visible curve or bend of the penis. This is normally to one side or downwards – as mentioned an upwards curve is common and is not necessarily a sign of any physical or medical issue. A curve of more than 30 degrees is, in most cases, a sign that some level of physical abnormality is present. Though by no means problematic in itself, a curve greater than this is more likely to cause a number of issues for the individual.
Again, the most obvious result of a greater than normal penis curvature is difficulty in having sex. In the most extreme cases the issue can become problematic and apart from anything else is likely to cause embarrassment and self-consciousness. Other symptoms may include a thickening or hardening of the penis in the shaft, pain during sexual activity, deformity of the shaft and even a loss of length or girth.
Whilst the physical symptoms associated with a bent penis vary, it’s very common for men to find the issue difficult to talk about and it often results in loss of self-esteem and/or anxiety and depression. The important point to remember is that it is extremely unlikely for penis curvature to be caused by a serious illness and that it is highly likely that the problem can be resolved. Particularly in the case of Peyronie’s disease, symptoms may develop in stages and any pain or discomfort may come and go over time. It’s important for any individual experiencing any of the above symptoms to seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Although it’s unclear as to the causes of Peyronie’s disease – and there may indeed be more than one cause – the good news is that it is not always necessary to treat the condition. In cases where the condition is causing pain, it’s possible that this will ease naturally over time. In most incidences of the condition the ability to perform sexually is not affected and Peyronie’s disease can resolve naturally in many individuals. One reason for developing Peyronie’s may be the result of small tears or injuries to the tissue of the penis whilst it is erect, plaque builds up scar tissue which can then cause deformity or curvature. In some cases, if this is the cause of the issue, the penis may gradually heal without any form of medical intervention.
Generally, if Peyronie’s is the cause of penis curvature, your GP will recommend waiting for around twelve months before considering any form of treatment. It’s important to discuss the possible options with your GP or an experienced sexual counsellor if the problem is causing concern or affecting your life adversely. In terms of congenital penile curvature, the physiological cause will need to be established and appropriate surgical procedures recommended to rectify the condition.
Treatments for Penile Curvature
To correct congenital penile curvature surgery will usually be required. Most doctors or surgeons will discuss the implications and options available and counselling may be offered, to help you to ensure that you are making the right decision. Peyronie’s disease should be treatable and options will include both surgical and non-surgical options. Steroid injections directly into the penis may be possible, whilst some medications can also be prescribed which reduce the effects of the condition.
Surgical options include removing the plaque causing the deformity or implanting a device in the shaft of the penis to straighten it. In some cases, it may be necessarily to cut away a small section of the penis opposite the plaque/scar tissue to straighten the shaft. In this case a slight loss of length may occur, although this is not necessarily the case.
Whatever the cause of curvature in the penis, it’s crucial to understand that the condition does not need to be a cause for embarrassment, and that it is extremely likely that it can be resolved easily. Seek advice from your GP if you are concerned about any irregularities, lumps or changes to your penis, in order to be able to find the right treatment for you.
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