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. 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’ve got nothing to worry about. However, if there’s pain or you’ve observed changes in your penis or erection over time, speaking with a medical professional may be necessary. 

A curved penis could be indicative of congenital penile curvature (CPC)—also known as chordee—and is caused during development in the womb. Although sometimes seen in infants, the condition is often not identified until sexual maturity since it’s most noticeable during an erection. The current thought is that CPC is related to how elastic the penile collagen fibers are, which may vary from one side of the penis to the other. In regard to your questions, Helpless and Reader, CPC is typically diagnosed through a physical exam by a urologist who specializes in male-presenting reproductive organs. 

In mild cases, chordee doesn’t require any treatment. However, if the erect penis curves more than 30 degrees or if having sex becomes difficult, surgery may be a potential treatment option. Surgical options include the Nesbit and modified Nesbit procedures, which involve incisions and folding of penile tissues to straighten the penis. There’s also a less invasive procedure that uses sutures instead, however, it may have a lower long-term success rate. As with any surgery, there is some risk. These include changes in penis sensation, discomfort, a blood clot, shortening of penile length, and, albeit rare, erectile dysfunction. 

Straight and Narrow, you mention that even in the midst of excitement, your penis is not erect but is curved. Erections are caused by more blood flowing into the penis than flowing out during arousal. Therefore, “erect” doesn’t mean that your penis will be exactly as straight as an arrow, hard as nails, perpendicular to your body, or parallel to the floor. Each person's erection is unique. However, if you experience pain during an erection, it may be a sign of Peyronie’s disease. If this is the case, consider talking with a health care provider. 

That said, 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 May 05, 2023
Originally published Sep 01, 1993

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