Psychological aspects of Peyronie's disease

Jean E Terrier, Christian J Nelson
Translational Andrology and Urology 2016, 5 (3): 290-5

BACKGROUND: Peyronie's disease (PD) is an acquired fibrotic disorder (disorganized collagen deposition) in the tunica albuginea. This scar tissue or "plaque" builds up in the tunica albuginea and results in penile deformities. PD can have a significant negative impact on mood and quality of life. Although the psychological impact of PD has generally been understudied, there has been a growing body of literature that has assessed the impact PD can have on men's mental health and relationships. The aim of this study is to review the current literature focused on the psychological and relationship impact of PD.

METHODS: We performed a MEDLINE search limited to English language literature using the terms: "Peyronie's Disease AND Psychological OR Psychosocial". Select references were then included for review.

RESULTS: The research in this area confirms the clinical impressions of men with PD, which is that depression and relationship distress is prevalent. Approximately 50% of men with PD suffer from depressive symptoms and upwards of 80% report distress related to PD. It appears that these rates remain relatively stable over time. High rates of relationship stress were also reported as over 50% of men reported that PD had negatively impacted their relationship. Qualitative work in this area helps us understand the nature of this distress. Regarding body image and self-esteem, men described themselves as "abnormal", "ugly", "disgusting", "like a cripple", and a "half man", and some of them described feelings of shame. Many men reported that they lost their sexual confidence, or ability to initiate sex with a partner, while most reported a decrease in sexual interest. Additionally, many men expressed a sense of stigmatization and isolation. This led to difficulties in speaking about their disease with sexual partners or healthcare professionals.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken in total, these studies indicate that those who actively treat PD should assess for distress or depressive symptoms. The standard assessment of PD could include the Peyronie's Disease Questionnaire (PDQ), and at least two questions on individual and relationship distress, or the use of a validated questionnaire to assess depression.

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