Peyronie’s disease is when plaques (scar tissue) form under the skin of the penis and cause it to bend. Living with this condition often includes pain and changes to sexual function that can affect personal intimacy, your relationships, and mental health.
Understanding the ways Peyronie’s disease can affect your sex life and partner can help you know what to expect from the disease, along with how treatment options can help.
Here are seven things to know about Peyronie’s disease and sex.
Erectile dysfunction is more common among people with Peyronie’s disease. A 2020 study on 656 men who were receiving care at a urology clinic in Brazil found that nearly 60 percent of men with Peyronie’s disease had erectile dysfunction, compared with 46 percent of men without the condition.
There are a few possible reasons for the connection between Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction. For some, the scarring can make it difficult to get an erection.
Erections can also be challenging if the nerves or blood vessels of the penis have been damaged by inflammation or trauma to the penis, which is associated with Peyronie’s disease.
Many people living with Peyronie’s experience anxiety and depression because of the condition. These feelings can also lead to challenges with sexual function, so the symptoms often compound each other.
Finally, pain (especially during the active phase of the disease) can contribute to erectile dysfunction for some people with Peyronie’s.
Peyronie’s disease often causes pain during erections. But that condition doesn’t only cause pain to those living with it — it can also make sex uncomfortable for their partners.
A 2020 study found that nearly half of the female sexual partners of men with the condition experienced at least moderate pain or discomfort during vaginal intercourse.
In some cases, couples couldn’t engage in certain sexual activities they enjoyed before the onset of Peyronie’s.
With that being said, the appearance of your penis might not be as much of an issue to your partner. The research found that nearly 60 percent of men with Peyronie’s disease were very or extremely bothered by how their erect penis looks, while just 20 percent of their female sexual partners felt the same way.
While it can be difficult to talk about Peyronie’s disease, communication is key to maintaining intimacy with your partner and finding new ways to be sexual.
Here are some ways to make the conversation easier, according to the Association of Peyronie’s Disease Advocates (APDA):
- Discuss the condition and its effects over several conversations. Don’t feel like you have to cover everything in one sitting.
- Your feelings and symptoms can change over time, so you may need to revisit topics in future conversations. Try to be honest about what you’re going through.
- Make sure the conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. As much as you share your concerns, listen to your partner express how your condition is affecting them, as well.
The APDA also encourages people with Peyronie’s disease to involve their partners in exploring treatment options and going to doctor’s appointments.
If Peyronie’s disease is making it challenging to have sex the way you’re used to, it might be time to explore new techniques.
Partners can use different positions or explore other forms of intimacy and pleasure besides intercourse to achieve satisfaction.
Speaking with a sex therapist or counselor can help both people in the relationship share their sexual needs and desires and work through challenges in the relationship.
Treatments for Peyronie’s disease, which range from injections to surgery and penile implants, usually have the goal to reduce curvature and improve sexual function.
However, not all people with the condition need medical treatments. If pain is your main symptom, OTC pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), may be all you need to have a more comfortable erection.
There are a number of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for Peyronie’s disease. While they’re typically focused on reversing curvature and breaking up plaques, some treatments have the added benefit of boosting satisfaction for partners of people with the condition.
Female partner sexual satisfaction also climbed by 34 percent to 88 percent when men were treated with penile plication, 90 to 100 percent after they underwent plaque incision or partial excision with grafting, and 40 to 75 percent after penile prosthesis implantation (a treatment typically reserved for people with severe Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction).
It’s important to note that available research only surveyed women who were intimate with men with Peyronie’s disease, so further study is needed to determine how the condition and treatments can affect non-female partners.
The psychological impacts of Peyronie’s disease can affect your emotional well-being, as well as your ability to be intimate.
According to APDA, the condition can change the way a person sees themself and hurt their self-confidence.
People with Peyronie’s disease may avoid intimacy, lose interest in sex, and withdraw emotionally. This can cause a range of psychological challenges for both people in the relationship.
Overcoming emotional and social isolation can help reduce the impact of the condition on your sex life and overall well-being. Consider talking with others who are living with the condition or joining a support group.
A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a therapist, can also give you a safe space to work through concerns and find ways to cope.
Peyronie’s disease can make a big impact on a person’s sex life, both due to the physical symptoms and the emotional impacts of the condition.
The condition can also make an impact on your partner’s comfort and satisfaction during sex.
Exploring treatment options, having open and honest conversations, and seeing a sex therapist are some of the ways to reduce the effects of Peyronie’s disease on intimacy.
You may also consider joining a support group to connect with others who have the condition.