Peyronie’s disease is caused by fibrosis, or scarring, of the sheath surrounding the erectile tissues of the penis. This results in pain, angulated erections and difficulties with sexual intercourse. Peyronie’s is believed to be caused by genetic factors combined with relatively minor injuries to the penis that occur during intercourse. A number of treatments have been used for Peyronie’s, but most of them have shown limited benefit. Vitamin E is often recommended for this condition.
Conservative Approach Recommended
Although surgery is useful for correcting Peyronie’s disease, some patients get worse after surgical treatment. During the first six to 18 months, Peyronie's can progress, remain stable or improve, and spontaneous resolution often occurs over the course of many months. Therefore, conservative management is recommended for at least the first year in most cases. This could include penile injections with calcium channel blockers, corticosteroids, antioxidants and interferon. Oral vitamin E is typically administered during all phases of treatment.
Vitamin E and Tissue Damage
In living tissues, vitamin E's primary benefits stem from its antioxidant properties. Aging and tissue degeneration are accelerated by free-radical-induced damage, and vitamin E neutralizes free radicals. A 1999 study in “International Journal of Impotence Research” showed that vitamin E prevented free-radical damage and reduced fibrosis in penile cavernosa cells in tissue culture. However, this same benefit has not been consistently demonstrated in patients with Peyronie’s disease.
Vitamin E Dosage
Studies evaluating vitamin E's benefits in Peyronie's disease have used varying dosages. There is apparently little evidence to recommend any particular dosage, and vitamin E’s effectiveness for treating this condition has yet to be confirmed. According to Dr. Wayne Hellstrom of Tulane University School of Medicine, a once-daily dose of 400 IU is a standard recommendation, but some studies have used 400 IU twice daily.
Vitamin E has shown promise for limiting fibrosis in tissue culture models of Peyronie’s disease, but it has not consistently demonstrated benefit in patients with this disorder. Conservative management – including oral and injectable therapies – is recommended for all patients for at least one year, since many cases of Peyronie’s spontaneously resolve. Surgery is reserved for those men who do not respond to conservative treatment after one year and whose disease prevents them from having intercourse. Vitamin E, in doses of 400 to 800 IU daily, is a standard but unproven treatment.