Curved penis and who to see about it

(1) Dear Alice,

I have a problem with my penis. Even in the midst of excitement, it is not erect but it is curved. Is that a problem or something to be concerned about?

— Signed,

Straight and Narrow

(2) Dear Alice,

My boyfriend has a crook in his penis. He is worried it could be something serious. We have never had sex, just dry sex, and he thinks the crook is because of that. Now we can't do that anymore because he doesn't want it to bend anymore. Help.

— Helpless

(3) Dear Alice,

What kind of doctor can someone go to if they have a curved penis?

Dear Straight and Narrow, Helpless, and Reader,

Like other physical characteristics, penises come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are longer, some are shorter, some are broader, and some are narrower. A penis may naturally curve up, down, or to either side. If you’ve had the curve in your penis for as long as you can remember and have no pain when you have an erection, it’s likely that you haven’t got much to worry about. However, if there is pain or you’ve observed changes in your penis or erection over time, talking to a medical professional may be warranted.

Based on your descriptions, Straight and Narrow and Helpless, it’s possible that you may have congenital penile curvature (CPC), also known as chordee, meaning that development in the womb led to the curvature. It can sometime be seen in infants, but the condition may not be observed until a man becomes sexually mature and sees the curve when the penis is erect. It’s currently thought that the CPC has to do with the degree of elasticity of the penile collagen fibers, which may vary from one side to the other and may result in a curve. Other potential causes include a shortened urethra, having think tissue around the urethra, or when the skin on the bottom side of the penis is too short. Regardless of the cause, Reader, CPC is typically diagnosed through a physical exam by a urologist who specializes in male reproductive organs and the urinary tract (in both men and women).

In mild cases, CPC/chordee does not require any treatment. When identified early, boys ages 3 to 18 months may have surgery to correct the curvature. Surgery is generally only recommended if the erect penis curves more than 30 degrees or if having sex becomes difficult or impossible. Surgical treatment is not without risk, which can include changes in penis sensation, discomfort, a blood clot, and shortening of penile length. However, erectile dysfunction rarely occurs as a result of surgery. Surgical options include the Nesbit and modified Nesbit procedures, which boast high success rates, involve incisions and folding of penile tissues to straighten the penis. A less invasive procedure is also available that utilizes sutures and no incisions. In the long term, however, it also has a lower success rate.

You mention that even in the midst of excitement, your penis is not erect but is curved, Straight and Narrow. Erections are caused by more blood flowing into the penis than flows out during arousal. However, “erect” does not mean that your penis will be exactly straight as an arrow, hard as nails, perpendicular to your body, and parallel to the floor. Each person's erection is unique as well. However, if you experience pain during an erection, it may be a sign of Peyronie’s disease and you'll likely benefit from making an appointment to see your health care provider. S/he can make a referral, if necessary, to a urologist.

But if you aren’t feeling any pain and find that the curving doesn’t get in the way of having sex, it may be best to accept and appreciate your penis just the way it is. As they say, “Love the one you’re with!”

Last updated Feb 09, 2015
Originally published Sep 01, 1993

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