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Even in the 21st century, men base a lot of their self-confidence and sense of self-worth on their penises.

That’s why all men need to be aware of a particular disease that could severely damage their favourite organ and make it almost impossible to have an erection without feeling excruciating pain.

Peyronie's disease causes men’s penises to bend and curve in abnormal ways, and the longer it is left untreated, the worse it can become, and this can be detrimental to both self-esteem and to sexual relationships.

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The causes

What causes Peyronie's disease isn’t totally understood, although it is believed to be brought on by repeated injuries to the penis, most likely during sex.

However, this isn’t always the case, and the disease could take hold of someone who has not suffered any penis injuries before.

Research is still underway to determine whether Peyronie's disease is caused by an inherent trait or if it is linked to another condition, such as connective tissue disorders.

According to theUrology Care Foundation , up to 4 in 100 men aged 40 to 70 might be suffering from Peyronie's disease, although the disease can strike at any age.

The disease might also be caused by smoking or some types of prostate surgery, but that is not known for sure.

The signs

Slight curvatures in the penis can be normal and isn’t necessarily a reason to worry, but men should still keep an eye out for any significant changes in their penis shape and size, as the symptoms of Peyronie's disease can come on gradually.

Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of many things, but men who develop Peyronie's disease often report issues around getting or maintaining an erection first.

The appearance of flat lumps or a band of hard tissue on the penis should ring alarm bells, as this is a sign that plaque (not the kind that affects your teeth) has built up in the blood vessels.

Another sign is noticing a new curve in the penis. This curve can be up, down, left or right. Unless the penis is usually like this, it could indicate the beginning stages of the disease.

As a result of Peyronie's disease, the penis may also get shorter. Along with a new curve, the shortening of the penis is one of the most obvious signs of this disease, and should be a cause for concern.

According to theMayo Clinic , the penis might also become narrow, display indentations or even take on an hourglass-like appearance, with a tight, narrow band around the shaft.

The disease can also cause significant pain in the penis, regardless of whether it is erect or not, making it impossible to have sex.

If it’s any consolation, the condition typically tends to stabilise after three to 12 months, while the pain experienced during an erection might start to ease after one or two years.

However, the scar tissue, penile shortening and curvature often remain.

When to seek help

Men are encouraged to seek medical treatment as soon as they notice the first signs of Peyronie's disease, as this is the best opportunity to prevent the symptoms from getting worse.

Treatment will most likely include taking oral drugs for the first 12 months to see if there is any improvement before moving onto penile injections if there is not.

In extreme cases, the only way to treat Peyronie's disease might be surgery.

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