“One morning when I got up, I went to the toilet and looked down and my penis looked like a horseshoe”
The man in the doctor’s surgery explained that he had noticed a lump on his penis about a year before and since then it had become more and more curved. Worse still, the more erect it became, the worse the curvature, making it virtually impossible to have intercourse.
This problem is known as Peyronie’s Disease and, whilst doctors are not totally sure why it happens, the cause is most likely linked to an earlier injury. If you the tissues in the body of the penis are damaged, scarring can occur, which can become thicker and tether the tissues slightly where the lump is making it bend round.
It can affect around three in every 100 men, primarily aged between 45 and 60, beginning when a hard lump develops following a trauma such as hitting or bending, in many cases during sexual activity. Over time the lump turns into a long hardened scar or plaque which causes the penis to curve.
Links have also been mooted with some types of beta blocker.
Whilst many cases resolve without treatment, the results of medication with supplements of vitamin E or potassium aminobenzoate or injecting corticosteroids directly into the scar tissue are inconclusive. Doctors prefer to recommend stretching techniques – either manually or with a number of ingenious ‘extending’ devices, including vacuum penis pumps.
In the worst cases, surgery is the only option but, because in almost every case the retraction of the scar pulls the penis deeper into the body shortening the length of the penis, most patients were unhappy with the outcome.
The man in the Embarrassing Bodies programme was offered two types of surgery – one which would see the surgeon make a cut in the shorter side of the penis and insert a graft from a vein in the top of his thigh and another that would take small chunks out of the longer curve and sew it back together, thus pulling it upright. Straightening it but at the cost of some length. He chose the latter option because it gave a lower risk of erectile dysfunction and impotence after the intervention.
He seemed very pleased after the operation and thought that the slight loss of length was well worth the ability to actually be straight.