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Peyronie’s Disease

A man's penis is an important part of his identity as a man. It serves a critical role in urinary function. Its function as a sexual organ is also important; sexuality is a source of physical pleasure, emotional bonding, and procreation. Unfortunately, the penis is prone to injuries and problems just like any other part of the human body and some of these injuries may have an impact on a man's enjoyment of sex. One particular problem that has received increasing attention in recent years is Peyronie's disease, a condition in which painful, hard plaques form underneath the skin of the penis leading to penile curvature. If you have pain and penile curvature characteristic of Peyronie's disease, the following information may help you understand your condition.

How does the penis become erect (hard) under normal conditions?

The penis is a cylindrical organ consisting of three separate chambers. On the upper (dorsal) portion of the penis there are two corpora cavernosa that are surrounded by a tough but elastic layer of connective tissue called the tunica albuginea. The third chamber is called the corpus spongiosum; it is located below the corpora cavernosa and is surrounded by a thin connective tissue sheath. It contains the urethra, the narrow tube that carries urine and semen out of the body.

These three chambers are made up of highly specialized, sponge-like erectile tissue filled with thousands of venous cavities, spaces that contain very little blood when the penis is soft. During erection, blood fills these cavities, causing the corpora cavernosa to balloon and push against the tunica albuginea. While the penis hardens and stretches, the skin and connective tissue of the penis remain loose and elastic to accommodate the changes.

What is Peyronie's disease?

Peyronie's disease (also known as indurations plastica penis) is an acquired inflammatory condition of the penis. The principle manifestation of Peyronie's disease is the formation of a plaque (a segment of flat scar tissue) within the tunica albuginea of the penis. This plaque can usually be felt through the penile skin. This plaque is not a tumor but it may lead to serious problems such as curved and/or painful erections

The name "Peyronie's Disease" is derived from the physician Francois Gigot de la Peyronie, personal physician to King Louis XV of France. De la Peyronie wrote an authoritative description of the disorder in 1743 and his name has been associated with the condition since that time.

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Information provided by the American Urological Association.