How Peyronie’s disease starts
As anyone who has the problem knows, the cause of Peyronie's disease is not well understood. However, any research topics that shed light on this basic question are of great interest to men who have Peyronie’s disease.
Perhaps a good question to start with is, what causes the erect penis to bend in a case of Peyronie’s disease? The answer lies in the function of the corpora cavernosa functions in the mechanism to produce an erection. There are actually two corpora cavernosa, laying side by side like two cigar shaped, paired balloon-like chambers that must be filled with blood to create an erection. Their connective tissue wall, the tunica albuginea, offers resistance and rigidity when it is stretched to its maximum. The tunica is elastic to a point, but unlike the thin and flexible wall of a balloon, the tunica albuginea is interlaced with strong connective tissue fibers. These strong fibers do not allow for much expansion, and eventually determine the shape of the erect penis because of their structural rigidity.
Thus, in a very real and fundamental way, Peyronies disease is a disorder of the tunica albuginea. By producing dense and rigid areas of the tunica, called Peyronie's plaque or scars, Peyronie’s disease interferes with the full expansion of the tunica. Plaques are either regions of reversible inflammation in early phases of Peyronies, or permanent scars later if the inflammation is severe and continues too long. Much like a piece of tape placed on the wall of a balloon, the plaque or scar causes uneven filling and expansion of the tunica, and this causes bending of the column of the corpora cavernosa.
A basic question is, what causes these plaques to begin? Microscopic and chemical studies show that plaques represent an early stage of the wound healing process when the tunica is injured. Whatever starts Peyronie’s disease, the problem seems to the inappropriately increase of the normally healthful and proper process of wound repair. Actually, wound healing may not be the appropriate term in all situations.
Most likely cause of Peyronie's disease
One cause of Peyronies disease is obvious and direct trauma to the erect penis. This trauma can range from sudden and unexpected angulation during sex, to am actual rupture of the corpora cavernosa. However, the fact is, many men with Peyronies do not recall any such traumatic occurrences.
Over time, all sexually active men will experience some degree of wear and tear on vulnerable areas of the soft tissue erection mechanism. Both the structural arrangement of the corpora and the inherent elasticity of its connective tissues counteract the strong mechanical stresses created by strong sexual activity. But when men reach their mid-fifties, fundamental connective tissue elasticity throughout the body, and the penis, is on the decline. And so, it just so happens that the average for appearance of Peyronies disease is fifty-four.
Peyronies plaques most often appear along the top surface of the penis. It is this region where the two corpora meet side by side, along the upper edge of the “inflatable I-beam” created during an erection that is most vulnerable to stress induced delamination. Another word for a layer is a lamina; when layers are disrupted or separated, it is called delamination.
Autopsy studies in the mid-1990s on men have shown the earliest microscopic changes thought to be early Peyronies disease changes are actually a common finding. It seems that while many men develop these changes, they will evolve into Peyronies plaques only for a small percentage of cases.
So what causes the process of normal wear and tear to develop abnormally into the destructive process of wound healing that is called Peyronie’s disease? There are no clear answers to this question. However, Peyronies disease is more common in diabetics, as well as men who have gout. These are two conditions that can have an adverse affect on normal connective tissue healing. It is also more common in the presence of Dupuytren’s contractures. These scars of the fascial covering of the finger tendons in the palm of the hand are thought to be inherited, and may reflect an abnormal tendency toward scar formation in other areas.
Thus, we see that much is still to be learned about Peyronie’s disease, but as these microscopic tissue clues are unraveled, the mystery of this problem will be advanced, as well as Peyronie’s disease treatment.