Peyronie's disease is a condition in which a plaque (a thickened, hardened piece of tissue) forms on one side of the penis. If the plaque becomes large enough, it reduces flexibility of the penis. During erection, the less-flexible part of the penis expands to a lesser extent, causing the penis to bend. Pain may occur as well. Severe curvature of the penis can make intercourse difficult or even impossible.
The cause of Peyronie’s disease is unknown, but it may involve injury to the penis that causes local bleeding, which in turn leads to the formation of fibrous tissue. However, the majority of cases occur without any obvious preceding injury.
People with Peyronie’s disease may have a generalized tendency to form fibrous tissue, as shown by a higher-than-average incidence of Dupuytren’s contracture (a condition in which fibrous tissue develops in the hands among men with Peyronie’s). The condition also appears to be partially heritable.
Treatment of Peyronie’s disease consists first and foremost of watchful waiting. In many cases, the disease never becomes severe enough to cause serious difficulty. Pain on erection generally decreases with time, and in some cases the extent of curvature also decreases.
When the condition is too severe to ignore, there are a variety of methods that may be tried, including injection of various drugs into the fibrous plaque, use of radiation therapy, and surgery. Of all these, only surgery is widely accepted as effective. However, because it can cause complications, such as shortening of the penis, it is usually reserved for serious cases.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
L-carnitine is an amino acid the body uses to turn fat into energy. It is not usually considered a nutrient because the body can manufacture all it needs. Two forms of L-carnitine—acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine—have been tried as treatments for Peyronie’s disease.
These studies remain preliminary, but their results are definitely encouraging. For more information, see the full Acetyl-L-Carnitine article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full PABA article.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Vitamin E has also been advocated for the treatment of Peyronie’s disease, as well as for the related condition Dupuytren’s contracture , but there is as yet no meaningful evidence that it is effective.
The herb gotu kola is used to treat various conditions in which fibrous scar tissue causes problems, and for that reason it has been advocated for Peyronie’s disease. However, again there is no meaningful evidence that it is effective.
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat Peyronie’s disease. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug articles in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -