Sunday, September 30, 2007

Peyronie's emerges from the closet

Peyronie's isn't the kind of disorder most people are comfortable complaining about. Dole made impotency somewhat acceptable, but, no presidential type has done that for Peyronie's. Still, the boomers are getting Peyronie's, and the boomer's are good about dragging things out of the closet.

Peter Kurth is a gay man who's been HIV positive since 1981, so he knows something about the world of shameful secrets and dealing with life's indignities. Writing in Salon, he comes out about something more embarrassing than gender preference -- Peyronie's Disease. He also illustrates why it's kind of unfortunate that Peyronie's is "owned" by urologists ...
middle age, crooked penis | Salon Life

... Peyronie's disease, the doctor then told me gently, is also called "partial penile disassembly." It is a condition of "uncertain cause," characterized by plaque, or a hard lump, or scar tissue, that forms in the penis and causes an abnormal curvature when the member is erect. Cases range from mild to severe. Peyronie's isn't "rare," exactly, but it's not "common" either. And it may or may not have anything to do with HIV or the medications.

"It afflicts men mainly in middle age," the urologist shrugged. "The sexual problems that result can disrupt a couple's physical and emotional relationship and lead to lowered self-esteem."

While I was stuck on the phrase "middle age," he carried on: "It's just the roll of the dice for middle-aged men. My guess is your penis has suffered some kind of trauma."

"Oh, Doc, you don't know," I answered, thinking of my whole checkered sexual history. "But the 'trauma' would have to have occurred some time ago, because my penis hasn't suffered anything in about three years."

Apparently there are only a few treatments for it, and my doctor tells me that none of them will work effectively for me. The first line of defense is massive doses of vitamin E, which the doctor can't, in good conscience, give at the levels he would normally prescribe, as vitamin E would contribute to "hepatic toxicity" (liver problems), brought on by the other pills I'm on. The second option is injections of some kind -- needles to the dick -- "which hurt like hell," the urologist said, "and they don't work, either." The third is penile implants, "but who wants a lead weight between his legs?" (I refrained from comedy here -- I knew all too well what he meant.) And the fourth, and most drastic, is surgery. "But I warn you," said the doctor, "you'll lose two or three inches. No more Peyronie's, but no penis, either...
Partial penile disassembly?! That's the wackiest label I've heard. Vitamin E is also worthless advice, it appears to be not only useless but it may have harmful systemic effects in high doses. On the other hand, the rest of the advice is pretty accurate and nicely put.

The notable thing about this post, though, is not the description of Peyronie's. It's that the disease has been publicly "outed". Thanks Peter!