How can you know if what’s going on with your body is normal or cause for concern? This is a question I hear a lot as a doctor, especially when it comes to urological matters. There are so many aspects (from minute to vital) that we must pay attention to when it comes to our physical and mental health. Thinking about what’s normal versus what’s cause for concern often comes back to relying on your inner barometer.
First and foremost, there are so many variables at play when thinking about what’s considered “normal”. It’s important that you have a personal baseline as well as a general understanding of what is common, that way, If something is causing you to worry, then you’ll know that it’s because it feels abnormal for you and your body. A great example of normal vs “abnormal” is Peyronie’s Disease. When it comes to the penis, it is common for there to be a slight curve when erect. Variations of shape and curvature are considered normal. However, if your penis has never had a curve, and you develop one all of a sudden (or slowly over time), then this is “not normal” for you. That’s when it’s time to do a body check and take stock of how you’re feeling.
This doesn’t feel normal
Think back to remember if there have been any injuries recently. Are you in any physical pain? Once you assess the entire situation, you’ll know if there is something going on that might be cause for you to check in with your doctor. The concern part of the equation comes into play if this new curvature in the penis causes pain, or if the bend is severe. Your doctor might be able to diagnose Peyronie’s Disease, and therefore treat the situation accordingly. Some of the symptoms you might want to check off are whether you have been unable to have sexual intercourse due to pain or if you’ve attempted sexual activity but are experiencing erectile dysfunction. You’ll know right away if your body feels out of whack, especially if you are very in tune with your body. This minimizes the time for you to get treatment, rather than waiting until the signs and symptoms have progressed far worse than necessary.
How did I get Peyronie’s Disease?
Although the causes of Peyronie’s disease are not fully understood, it is most likely a result of damage to small blood vessels, which causes scar tissue to form inside the shaft. The inflammatory condition can stem from an accident, sporting event, a blow, or even an injury sustained during sexual intercourse. Cells might become trapped and result in scar tissue which form during the healing process.
If permanent scar tissue forms, a part of the casing can no longer stretch, and so when the penis becomes erect, the scarred part doesn’t lengthen, bending the penis as it pulls. This can be quite painful during an erection and it could make sexual intercourse impossible.
Although there is no cure for Peyronie’s disease, it is treatable (may even go away on its own). There are treatment options that include both medications (oral or injections) and surgery (shortening, lengthening, and penile implants). It’s important to discuss a treatment plan with your doctor.
The most important takeaway when it comes to discussing your health is knowing your body. If you have a strong sense of what is and what feels normal for your body then you will better be able to identify when something feels slightly off. Although most of the time, feeling “a little off” is not cause to run to your doctor, it is the precise moment when you should start paying even closer attention to your body and your symptoms. Early detection of any condition or disease is the best way to stay ahead of things worsening. Know your normal and keep track of your body and everything it’s trying to tell you. And of course, always #HaveTheBallsToTalkAboutIt with a friend, a partner, and your doctor.