Peyronie's disease is a mild condition that involves the abnormal curvature of the penis during erection, which might be associated with pain and erectile dysfunction. It was previously thought that penile trauma, or trauma to the shaft of the penis, is the major cause of Peyronie's disease, but recent studies show that the development of Peyronie's disease cannot be explained by penile trauma alone. Acetyl L-carnitine is a supplement proven to be beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with Peyronie's disease.
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Acetyl L-carnitine is a naturally occurring supplement found in both plants and animals. It is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. According to a 2003 "Reviews in Urology" article, the supplementation of acetyl L-carnitine resulted in greater improvements in penile pain and scars compared with a group treated with tamoxifen, a substance thought to reduce scar formation in the penis. Acetyl L-carnitine also resulted in fewer side effects.
Causes of Peyronie's Disease
Only a small percentage of men with Peyronie's disease report a history of trauma to the penis. Most causes of Peyronie's disease are unknown. Certain diseases, such as Paget's disease -- a disease marked by excessive breakdown and formation of bones -- and Dupuytren's contracture -- a disorder marked by fixed bending of the fingers toward the palm -- are associated with an increased risk for Peyronie's disease. In some men, Peyronie's disease might result from genetic inheritance.
Stages of Peyronie's Disease
Peyronie's disease can be grouped into two categories: active phase and stable phase. During the active phase, extensive scar formation occurs in a confined region within the shaft of the penis. According to the 2003 study, most scars form along the top of the penile shaft. This extensive local scar formation results in abnormal curvature of the penis during erection, which can preclude intercourse. This curvature also is associated with increased pain during erection. The mature phase of Peyronie's disease usually occurs around 6 to 12 months after scar formation. In this phase, less pain is reported, with no change in scar size, but without treatment, the deformity persists.
Management of Peyronie's Disease
Orally ingested medications and substances injected directly into a penile lesion are two ways to manage Peyronie's disease. Acetyl L-carnitine, supplemented at a dose of 1 gram twice per day, has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of Peyronie's disease. Other treatments include colchicine, a drug that blocks cell division; potassium aminobenzoate, which helps in reducing scar formation; and vitamin E. Steroids, calcium channel blockers and collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down collagen, are substances that can be injected into the penile lesion to reduce local inflammation, or irritation, and break down scar tissue.