Between 4 and 9 percent of men suffer from Peyronie’s disease, better known as a bent penis. Though some men are born with curved penises, Peyronie’s occurs when scar tissue builds up and creates a curve or divots in the penis.
“Someone who has a straight penis wakes up one day and it can be bent anywhere from a 30- to 90-degree angle,” said Dr. Jed Kaminetsky of Manhattan Sexual Health and Wellness. Until recently, patients had few reliable options to treat the disease, but in December Xiaflex became the first FDA-approved non-surgical treatment option to treat Peyronie’s disease.
Kaminetsky was one of the doctors conducting clinical trials of Xiaflex over the last five years. He explained that men can get Peyronie’s disease as a result of acute or repeated mild trauma to the penis. “A man might fracture his penis during vigorous sex, for example,” he said. “Thanks to Viagra, men are having a lot more sex and they’re having sex for longer periods in their lives. We’re putting the penis through more sex.”
He explained that when a man suffers from a fracture to his penis, the healing process occasionally goes awry, leading to scar tissue that changes the penis’ shape.
Now, Kaminetsky is one of the doctors who offers Xiaflex injections to patients with Peyronie’s. The treatment consists of eight injections over the course of four months. “Xiaflex breaks down scar tissue; it’s injected into the plaque,” he explained. He said that in clinical trials, it resulted in an average of 36 percent reduction in curvature. Side effects include bruising, and about 1 percent of patients had a fracture in the penis. “Some patients had a straight penis, and those guys were really happy,” said Kaminetsky. He added that the drug had no effect on 25 percent of patients.
Joseph, who declined to give his last name, participated in the clinical trials and said he’s happy with the results. He said getting an erection used to be painful, but Xiaflex has alleviated it. “Now there’s absolutely no pain whatsoever and I can perform without even thinking about it,” he said. “[Peyronie’s] is something that happened and it was fixed, and now it’s gone.”
Joseph, 65, described the curvature of his penis as “more than noticeable” before he began Xiaflex injections. He said he doesn’t know how he got Peyronie’s and that it went from “gradual to complete” curvature in just a few months. “It affected my sexual life,” he said of his condition. “Sex became something I really didn’t look forward to with enough enthusiasm.”
After suffering from the disease for about a year and a half, he was able to participate in the trials. “I was hoping that I would not be the one to get the placebo,” he laughed. He said his penis straightened out gradually and was completely recovered by his final session.
Kaminetsky said he is about to officially offer the treatment at his clinic and already has 10 patients booked.
What’s next on horizon for penis injections? Botox. Kaminetsky is conducting clinical trials using Botox to treat premature ejaculation. Though he is not permitted to reveal details, he said that he is studying the effects of Botox when it is injected into the bulbospongiosus muscle (in the perineum), which plays an important role in initiating an orgasm. “It’s a reflex when a man ejaculates or has an orgasm,” he said. “There are different theories on what initiates the orgasm, but the bulbospongiosus muscle is a big part of the orgasmic process, and by inhibiting that contraction, the hope is that it’s going to delay the orgasm.”
But no one suffers from premature ejaculation, right?
On second thought, let’s keep our fingers crossed for Botox.