Peyronie’s Disease Support
It’s important for men with Peyronie’s disease – and their partners – to know that they’re not alone. Many men are embarrassed about their condition or feel nervous about discussing it with a doctor. But having the discussion an important step in learning how to manage the condition. Here, we’ll discuss how common Peyronie’s disease is, offer reasons and tips for talking to the doctor, suggest other ways to find support, and give a brief look at current research, treatment, and prognosis.
How common is Peyronie’s disease?
Peyronie’s disease is more common than one may think. In fact, published medical studies show that between 3% and 9% of men have Peyronie’s disease. However, the Association for Peyronie’s Disease Advocates (APDA) believes the rate is higher, since not all cases are diagnosed.
Peyronie’s disease can affect any man at any age, but most men with the condition are middle aged. Men with a family history of Peyronie’s disease or Dupuytren’s contracture, a connective tissue disorder of the hand, tend to be at higher risk. Some scientists believe that diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking raises the likelihood that a man will develop Peyronie’s disease. Invasive surgery, like removal of the prostate, may increase the risk as well.
Talking to the Doctor
Peyronie’s disease is treated by urologists – doctors who specialize in problems with the penis and related organs. But not all urologists are experienced in treating Peyronie’s disease. A man should feel comfortable with his urologist and confident that the physician has the necessary expertise. If there are any doubts, men should get a second opinion or change to a new urologist.
Sometimes, making that first appointment is the hardest step. A man with Peyronie’s disease may feel ashamed to admit he has a problem, especially with a part of his body that defines his masculinity. He may also feel nervous about treatment.
But taking that step has a number of benefits:
- Reassurance. A urologist experienced with Peyronie’s disease can put a man at ease, giving him the facts about the condition and what can be done about it. Having a specific action plan can make a man feel more in control of the situation.
- Referrals for counseling and sex therapy. Peyronie’s disease can take an emotional toll on men and their partners. Men may feel depressed because they can’t have sex the way they used to. They may feel anxious about future sexual activity. Both patients and their partners may start to withdraw from each other and communicate less. An experienced doctor can refer men and their partners to counseling, which can help resolve these issues. A sex therapist can also help the couple communicate about sex and suggest strategies for improving intimacy in the relationship.
- Individual guidance. A man’s urologist knows his specific situation and can answer questions on a more personal basis.
- Support. A urologist can recommend reliable books, articles, and websites with more information on Peyronie’s disease for men and their partners. They may also suggest support groups or online support communities where men and their partners can talk with others in similar situations.
Men planning their first appointment are encouraged to write down the details of their symptoms and any questions they may have. It’s also common to bring photographs of the erect penis taken from different angles. This helps the doctor see exactly what kind of curve and plaque formation are taking place. Sometimes partners need to take these pictures.
Some men choose to bring their partners to their appointments. Partners can provide support and be a “second set of ears” when the doctor explains the condition and treatment. Partners may also think of questions that haven’t occurred to the patient.
Finding Peyronie’s Disease Support
Men with Peyronie’s disease don’t have to face the condition alone. It may help to talk to others who are having similar problems and emotions. Some men choose to join support groups suggested by their urologist.
Online support communities are another option. In fact, some men prefer online communities because they can remain anonymous and feel more comfortable expressing themselves. One such online community can be found on the Association for Peyronie’s Disease Advocates website.
Men with Peyronie’s disease can discuss the problem man-to-man, using their own language to share their concerns, suggest alternative ways to be intimate, help each other with relationship issues and depression, and offer coping strategies. Partners can also benefit from support networks, sharing their perspectives with patients and other partners.
Support doesn’t need to come from others with Peyronie’s disease, however. Trusted friends and relatives can also provide excellent support, if a man is comfortable talking with them.
Treatment and Prognosis
There are several different treatments available for Peyronie’s disease. A man’s doctor can help him decide which treatment option is best for him.
Men with Peyronie’s disease can have a good prognosis for sexual function, especially if treatment begins within 6 months after symptoms begin. For many men, the pain and plaque formation eventually subside and they can still enjoy intimacy with their partner.
Information courtesy of sexhealthmatters.org