Causes of Peyronie's Disease - Genetics Vs. Autoimmune

Is Peyronie's an Autoimmune Disease?
Recently I was asked about some information in my e-book regarding Peyronie's as an autoimmune disease.  This really got me thinking, and I had to do some research to try and arrive at a better understanding. There may be an autoimmune component to Peyronie's, but I don't find evidence in studies to support this as the initial cause of disease.  Autoimmune may not even be the proper term to use.  Some men have been thought to be  pre-disposed genetically to getting Peyronie's. 

Statistically, it was reported that more men of Northern European descent develop PD than any other race. There is also the possibility that Peyronie's is studied more, and not diagnosed or is reported less in some populations.  Many have heard the old stories of the Norsemen suffering from Dupuyentren's Contracture and  Peyronie's Disease. I had a doctor refer to Peyronie's as Viking's disease,
which would lend credence to Genetic pre-disposition.

Still the jury is out on this idea for now. Recent genetic testing has not revealed a predisposed population. More testing will have to be done to determine if some nationalities are predisposed.

Generally the overwhelming majority of men with Peyronie's have some kind of sexual trauma. The injury can be catastrophic in nature (Penile fracture) or it can be in the form of micro-injuries that are cumulative in nature and go unnoticed until the pain and scarring become apparent. 

Repeated tunical stress and micro vascular trauma are the most common and likely causes. Excessive bending during erections or blunt trauma can cause bleeding or delamination in the Tunica. Under normal healing processes injury results in bleeding, with clot formation occurring. Clotting is the bodies' response to stop the bleeding and fluid buildup. The clotting (thrombus) formation leads to the deposit of fibrin. The fibrin develops a mesh-work of fibers that attach at the injury site. These processes initiate a healing response that sends inflammatory cells to the injury site. Collagen and connective tissue begin to repair the damage, which is basically the same thing as scar tissue, after a cut heals. 

From injury to healing response there is something that can kick in; transforming growth factor. This growth factor sets off a continued growth of connective tissue, which results in the plaque/scar. Every body reacts differently to injury, that is evident in external scars as well as internal.  You see some people that have heavy keloid scars after surgery, where another person will have only mild scarring. Not all penile injury results in Peyronie's. It is related more to abnormal scar development in susceptible men. This is far more common than previously thought. Postmortem examinations found plaque in 23 out of 100 men examined. It is thought that 3-7% of men have plaques that cause curvature.

Another factor we should all think about with treatment of  Peyronie's, is dehydration. Drinking adequate water to hydrate your body, will also help to thin your blood, (reduce viscosity) and increase circulation. Dehydration causes your body to rob water from your blood. This will decrease the quantity and quality of blood that flows around the Tunica Albugenia, which is needed for healing and flushing of the plaque. The area where the plaque forms is referred to as hypovascular, which means there is low blood flow around the exterior of the tunica. Staying hydrated will help increase the circulation and aid in healing.

If you are using my 3 step battle plan to treat your Peyronie's, make sure and drink plenty of water, or you may not reap all of the benefits or optimum performance that the products provide.

Many men are not accustomed to drinking water regularly. It takes a dedicated effort, awareness, and vigilance to stay hydrated. I have to really stop and think about drinking water, it is a good habit, but for me it takes a conscious effort. 

Getting back to Genetics Vs. Autoimmune, it seems to me that Peyronie's is not like any other Autoimmune disease, where inflammation goes crazy and the body reacts by going into overdrive. It has similarities to Sclerderma, but on a microscopic scale in comparison. The idea of men of Northern European descent being more susceptible or prone to Peyronie's is probably due to the large scale and long term studies that have been done on mainly Caucasian populations.

In my own case, I was over supplementing with Glucosamine/Chondroitin, which was very popular at the time.  I also had cumulative sexual injuries. My genetics are a large part Northern European (35% Norwegian), so it seemed at the time to be a perfect storm in developing Peyronie's. Men from Northern European descent are not the only ones that get Peyronie's, this disease is no respecter of race or nationality . Penis injury is not relegated to one genetic group. Peyronie's disease has been found to be widely distributed throughout the world.

There are many other probable causes of Peyronie's, you can read about them on this older post:


  1. I would love to know where you found the stories about Norsemen and Peyronie's. At the British Dupuytren's Society we are very interested in the history of Dupuytren's and related conditions.

    1. Hi Anne, Thank you for your question. The following websites are the sources for the Norsemen/Peyronie's connections that I wrote about in the article above. Most of the information is anecdotal and some are not backed by medical studies. The references in the article above are not stating this connection as fact, but are referring to the possiblity, although it is unproven at the present time that there may be a Viking connection to Peyronie's. Studies do show that Dupuytren's and Peyronie's plaques are almost identical in their structure and composition, thus the implied connection. If you would like me to email these links to you I would be happy to do so.
      Thank you again for your interest and question. John Parks

      The Vikings and Baron Dupuytren's disease Fibromatosis
      In DD, fibromatosis can occur in areas other than the palm and fingers. The most common site is as knuckle pads, followed by the sole of the foot. Peyronie’s disease (penile deposits) is not common but is, in fact, associated with DD. Histological and biochemical studies show these tissues to be identical to those in the palm and digits.

      Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology

      The Viking Disease
      The Fearsome Four – Peyronie's, Dupuytren's, Ledderhose Disease And Frozen Shoulder

      • Almost all affected are Caucasians, most common in northern Europeans or Scandinavian descent. Much less common to rare in men of African heritage; rare to unknown in men of Asian heritage. When found in African heritage males, often associated with preexisting diabetes mellitus.