Several different conditions can cause painful erections, such as certain medicines, trauma, infection, or hormone deficiencies. But if you’re suffering from painful erections, the most common cause is a condition called Peyronie’s disease.
Experiencing pain during an erection is never normal and you should always follow up with a medical evaluation.
At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, board-certified urologist Philip Weintraub, MD, and our care team are here to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your painful erections.
To help you better understand the importance of seeking medical help, we put together this informative guide outlining what you need to know about painful erections.
Painful erections: The basics
Men get erections when an increase of blood flow causes stiffening and enlarging of the penile tissues, usually related to sexual arousal, although other processes can cause erections as well. Painful erections, or priapism, are never normal.
Different conditions can trigger painful erections, often related to how blood flows to and from the penis, including:
- Blood disorders
- Prescription and nonprescription medications (e.g., blood pressure medications or recreational drugs)
- Trauma to the penis
- Infection or inflammation in the urethra or urinary tract
- Hormonal imbalances
Most of the time when men experience chronic pain erections, the cause is a condition called Peyronie’s disease, which is an abnormal curvature in the penis caused by the development of scar tissue.
Peyronie’s disease: The most common cause of painful erections
Peyronie’s disease affects up to 10% of men 40 or older. The condition creates inflammation in the penis, which over time turns into hardened scar tissue or plaque.
You can feel the scar tissue through the skin, most commonly on the top side but sometimes wrapping around the penis. Because the scar tissue is hard, the penile tissue can’t expand normally during an erection, leading to the following symptoms:
- Painful erections
- New curves or bends in the penis
- Soft erections or difficulty getting a full erection
- Shortening of the penis
- Lumps or areas of hard tissue in the penis
- Deformities or indentations of the penis during an erection
- Changes in the penile angle that makes penetration during sex difficult
Researchers are still working to understand why some men develop Peyronie’s disease. The exact cause remains unknown, but studies have found a link between different factors and the disease, including:
- Injury to the penis with internal bleeding
- Genetics/family history
- Environmental factors
- Personal history of connective tissue disorders, prostate cancer, or an autoimmune disorder
- Advancing age (≥ 40 years)
If you’re experiencing painful erections, schedule an exam with a urologist. With Peyronie’s disease, early intervention can prevent complications from developing, so if you notice any of the signs, see Dr. Weintraub as soon as possible.
Help for painful erections
There’s no cure for Peyronie’s disease, but the good news is that the pain from Peyronie's disease will resolve on its own over time.
That being said, early intervention can prevent additional scar tissue from forming and reduce your pain. Treatment may include pain medications, medications to reduce or prevent plaque formation, supplements, and/or stretching exercises.
For longer-term or severe Peyronie’s disease, we may discuss different surgical options to address uneven penis length.
If your painful erections have another cause, we work to diagnose the underlying reason and create a customized treatment plan.
Don’t wait to seek help if you’re experiencing painful erections. Contact our Burbank, California, office today.