Does the shape matter?

The deviation of the penis to one side creates a curvature that most often becomes evident only when the penis is erect. The shape of the penis varies widely among men, and although straight erections are the most frequent, a slight, non-painful curvature is usually normal. A study reported that up to 20% of men have a penile curvature, but only one in six of them complained of dissatisfaction with the shape of their penis.

When the curvature is greater than thirty degrees, it may cause pain or discomfort with erections or penetration. In these cases, the most likely cause is an entity called Peyronie’s disease. This condition occurs due to thickening of the fibrous deep tissues of the penis. Most of the time the actual cause is unknown, but trauma or genetics may play a role.

Although penile curvatures can be relatively common, Peyronie’s disease is rare, with only 1% of the male population having this diagnosis. It can appear at any age, but it is most frequent between the fourth and sixth decades of life.

Some of the shapes that can be seen include: right or left sided curvature, upward curvature, hourglass-like, and thickened lump or cord-like area.

Whenever a shape variation occurs without pain or discomfort during sexual activity, it can be considered a normal variation and does not require medical treatment. On the other hand, symptomatic patients should schedule a consultation with their urologist to discuss the different medical and surgical treatment options available.