Congenital Penile Curvature

Congenital penile curvature (chordee) is a condition present at birth. It causes your penis to bend or curve. It becomes more apparent during an erection. It may not require surgical treatment unless it interferes with intercourse or causes other problems.


What is congenital penile curvature?

Congenital penile curvature, also known as chordee, is a condition that can affect newborns assigned male at birth (AMAB). You may notice penile curvature early in your baby’s life when you change their diaper. But many people don’t discover they have chordee until they go through puberty and have an erection.

Most congenital penile curvatures are mild and don’t require treatment. But in more severe cases, your penis is significantly bent or twisted along the shaft. This can make a person feel self-conscious, cause pain or affect sexual function. It could also impact a person’s ability to aim their pee into the toilet. In these cases, surgery may be necessary.

Is a curved penis normal?

Some degree of curving of your penis can be normal. In many cases, the penis can curve slightly to the left or right when it’s erect. Penile curvature can also cause the penis to bend upward or downward.

How rare is congenital penile curvature?

Studies show that some degree of penile curvature is present in 4% to 10% of male births. It can occur as its own condition or with other conditions like:

  • Hypospadias. This is when a person’s urethra doesn’t stop at the tip of their penis but continues down the shaft of their penis or to their scrotum.
  • Abnormal foreskin. If your foreskin doesn’t form as it should, there can sometimes be skin on other parts of your penis that can cause penile curvature.
  • Penile torsion. This is when a person’s penis appears twisted or turned.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are signs of chordee?

The main sign of chordee is a curved penis. The bend can range from mild to severe. The severity of the bend is best seen when a person has an erect penis.

Chordee typically doesn’t cause pain until the penis is erect. This may affect a person’s ability to have sexual intercourse comfortably. It can also cause pain for their sexual partner.

A caregiver may notice a chordee in a child because aiming pee into the toilet or urinal is difficult for them.

Additionally, it can make a person self-conscious about sexual activity when their penis is erect and the curve is noticeable.

What does chordee look like?

Chordee looks like a bend, slight twist or curve of your penis, and it’s most noticeable during an erection. It most often bends down or to the left or right, but it can also bend upward.

What causes congenital penile curvature?

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of congenital penile curvature. However, they believe it has to do with how elastic tissue in your penis forms during fetal development.


What are the complications of chordee?

There aren’t any medical complications of chordee. But it can affect a person’s sexual health by making intercourse uncomfortable or downright painful. It can also affect a person emotionally and cause distress or issues with their self-esteem.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is congenital penile curvature diagnosed?

A healthcare provider performs a physical exam to diagnose chordee. It’s best for your provider to make the diagnosis during an erection so they can see the exact curvature.

It’s normal for a person to feel uncomfortable discussing a penile curvature with their provider. Let your provider know how you’re feeling about your diagnosis so they can best help you.


Management and Treatment

How is chordee treated?

Treatment usually isn’t necessary unless the condition interferes with sexual function or sexual intercourse. In these cases, surgery can fix the curvature.

Some people may choose to have surgery even when the curvature is mild or small due to how it impacts their self-esteem.

A parent or guardian may decide that surgery is the best option for their child after learning how the curvature may affect them later in life. If your child has this condition, it’s best to talk to their healthcare team about what they recommend.

At what age is chordee treated?

Healthcare providers usually recommend surgical treatment during early childhood (around age 2). This is due to it being easier for a penis to repair and continue to develop before adulthood. But if a person doesn’t realize they have chordee until they’re older and it affects their sexual health, surgery is still an option. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t have surgery to fix chordee.


Can this be prevented?

No, you can’t prevent congenital penile curvature.

Outlook / Prognosis

Does congenital penile curvature get worse?

No, it typically doesn’t worsen over time. Your healthcare provider can let you know what you can expect if you don’t treat a curved penis.

Will chordee go away on its own?

No. As it’s something you were born with and affects the tissues within your penis, it won’t correct itself as you get older.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Talk to a healthcare provider if you have concerns about a curved penis, especially if it’s causing pain and affecting your sexual relationships. While talking about your penis can be difficult, your provider is the best person to answer your questions and recommend treatment.

What questions should I ask my provider?

It’s normal to have questions when you receive a diagnosis. Some questions you might ask include:

  • Do you recommend surgery?
  • What does surgery involve?
  • Should my child have surgery for a chordee?
  • When is the best time to have surgery?
  • What is the recovery like?
  • What are options other than surgery?

Additional Common Questions

How is congenital penile curvature different from Peyronie’s disease?

There are two main types of penile curvatures: Peyronie’s disease and congenital penile curvature (chordee). The difference is that a congenital curvature is something you’re born with (birth defect). Peyronie’s disease is acquired, meaning you develop it at some point in life.

Peyronie’s disease is a condition where scar tissue causes your penis to curve or lose length or girth. It can cause pain and make sex difficult. Causes may include an injury to your penis or a connective tissue disorder.

Congenital penile curvature doesn’t involve scar tissue. Rather, it results from how a penis forms. Congenital penile curvature usually involves a downward or slightly sideways curve or a combination of both.

Is chordee the same as hypospadias?

No, these aren’t the same. You can have chordee with or without hypospadias (when your urethra isn’t at the tip of your penis).

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It can be difficult to discuss sensitive topics, like penis health, with a healthcare provider. But know that your provider is there to help you and will never judge you. If you were born with a curved penis and it begins causing you physical or emotional pain, reach out to a provider for help. They can talk to you about potential treatments.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/23/2024.

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