Peyronie’s disease is a condition of the penis in which scar tissue or plaque builds up under the skin of the penis, causing it to take on a new, curved shape, especially when it’s erect. While many men don’t like to talk about it, Peyronie’s can significantly disrupt their sex life. But they can take steps to relieve the condition.

Experts don’t fully understand the reasons why Peyronie’s develops, but a traumatic incident—often an injury sustained while having vigorous sex—can be the cause. A poorly aimed thrust that misses its mark can cause a tear in the tunica albuginea, the thick, elastic tissue that helps keep the penis erect, and, as a result, plaque or scar tissue builds up and causes the penis to bend while erect.

Over the 18 months following the trauma, during what’s called the “acute phase,” erections can be painful, making sex difficult. As the scar tissue builds, the new curvature of the penis can become so profound as to make sex nearly impossible—even