This is a process that affects the connective tissue of the penis. Besides, a fibrous lesion (plaque) appears and, apart from being usually felt, it may cause curvatures or other deformities of the penis. It is a benign pathology. However, it can make sex difficult or impossible, resulting in a devastating situation for the patient’s sex life and overall quality of life.
Although the cause is unknown, the most accepted theory is based on the succession of vascular microtraumas in the tunica albuginea, one of the layers of the penis. In some cases, the cause has been described after finding a more serious traumatism (fracture of the penis) that has not been correctly treated. This pathology affects men of all ages, although those between 40 and 70 years old are more prone to suffer from it. It has been generally stated that it only affects 1% of the male population, but some authors claim that its incidence may be on the rise, affecting 4-5% of men. It is associated with the Ledderhose and Dupuytren’s diseases, which are fibroid retractions of similar characteristics that occur in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, respectively.
Typically, two stages of the disease are distinguished:
» Acute phase: there is an inflammatory reaction of unknown cause, causing the appearance of palpable fibrosis (plaque). It is usually accompanied by pain during erection, and the patient observes a progressive deviation or deformation (hourglass, indentation). It usually lasts between 12 and 18 months, on average.
» Chronic or stable phase: inflammation is reduced, leaving the palpable plaque. Usually, the patient stops feeling pain during erection, and does not observe a worsening of the deformity. The plaque is usually palpable and, in some cases, it may calcify and even ossify.
It can cause erectile dysfunction, the severity of which will depend on the disease itself and the previous characteristics of the patient. It is also common for the fibrous and scarring process to lead to a variable penis shortening.
It is important to see a specialist as soon as any of the symptoms described in the acute phase are noticed, since starting treatment in this phase can stop the progression of the disease, and thus prevent more serious sequelae and more aggressive treatments.