30/01/2017 08:16 GMT | Updated 31/01/2018 05:12 GMT

The Devastating Disease Too Many Men Are Hiding

You've probably never heard of Peyronie's Disease. It's not in most people's medical or health lexicon. But it's a condition an estimated 5-7% of the male population suffer from and can have devastating consequences if left untreated.

So why haven't you ever heard of this disease? Because Peyronie's is an embarrassing condition - it affects the penis. Most men avoid the doctor at the best of times and are even less likely to go if the problem is an intimate one. Others wrongly believe there are no treatments available and try to cope alone.

Peyronie's Disease is a condition which causes a curvature of the penis. Whilst many penises have some degree of natural bend, this disease causes a build-up of collagen which causes a more extreme curve which can make sex painful or even impossible.

Nobody knows exactly why collagen is deposited in the penis like this - it's sometimes due to a genetic condition, or it could be caused by scar tissue formation brought about by a sex or masturbation injury. The lump - or "plaque" - of collagen cannot expand when the penis becomes erect and causes the bend, resulting in pain and varying degrees of sexual dysfunction.

Many people scoff in disbelief when I say just how many men across the UK and beyond are believed to suffer from Peyronie's. And that's because so many suffer in silence. In my years as a Consultant Uroandrologist, I've come across scores of men with the condition. Some have been recently diagnosed, whilst others have been living with the condition for years, often to the detriment of their relationships and sex life.

Odds are, someone you know will be living with Peyronie's. They might not even know that it has a name, instead keeping the worrying change in their body to themselves. But support and treatments are out there for men diagnosed with the condition. From injections to surgery, there are options available to tackle the problem. There are also groups to help support those living with the condition.

But the most important thing is to seek help as soon as you notice the symptoms. Any changes down there; book an appointment with your GP immediately. The longer you leave it, the more lasting the damage.

Let's start 2017 by taking care of ourselves and consulting our doctors when we suspect something is up. It could save you or your loved ones years of potential pain and discomfort and help us all lead healthier, happier lives.

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