Erectile Dysfunction, or more commonly referred to as ED, affects as many as 52 percent of men between ages 40 to 70, or an estimated 30 million U.S. men. The “little blue pill” (i.e. Viagra, Cialis) is probably the most well-known treatment option for ED. Other treatments include penile injections, vacuum erection devices and penile implants. However, shockwave therapy to treat erectile dysfunction is an emerging option you may wish to discuss with your doctor.
What is Shockwave Therapy and How Does it Work for ED?
Officially called low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT), the procedure is more commonly known as shockwave therapy. The treatment involves noninvasive low-intensity sound waves that trigger a process called neovascularization in the targeted area of the body to help improve blood flow to the region.
When used for ED, the soundwaves pass through the erectile tissue. The goal is to restore natural erectile function by clearing plaque out of blood vessels as well as to encourage the growth of new blood vessels and blood flow. Shockwave therapy has been effectively used to treat kidney stones and in orthopedics, sports medicine and podiatry to treat joint and musculoskeletal issues.
Compared with conventional treatment for ED, shockwave therapy for ED offers some distinct advantages:
- Research shows high rate of effectiveness
- Minimum procedural time
- Low risk
What Can a Man Expect During a Shockwave Treatment?
Shockwave therapy is administered via a probe coated with a special gel. The probe is applied to the penis, with different areas targeted. Sessions last for 15 to 20 minutes. Most men do not need anesthesia or experience pain; however, they may experience a tingling sensation. A series of treatments is typically recommended.
Research and Shockwave Therapy for ED?
As blood flow is critical to a man’s ability to achieve an erection, scientists are more recently studying shockwave therapy’s effects on erectile dysfunction. Shockwave therapy is anticipated to be FDA-approved, with early and ongoing research being promising.
Early clinical trials of shockwave therapy for ED have shown promising results. The treatment has been well tolerated by patients. Many men have found that their erections have improved and they can have intercourse. However, without more robust data, which will take time to accumulate and such research is underway, shockwave therapy is currently considered an experimental treatment. More robust studies will help confirm early promising findings.
Is Shockwave Therapy for ED an Option for Me?
ED can be complex. The best way to determine your ideal treatment is to discuss it with your doctor. As mentioned, it’s also very important to rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to ED.
If you are experiencing ED, know you’re not alone. Many men experience it at some point in their lives. The first step it to schedule a consultation with a board-certified urologist to discuss your options and rule out any underlying health issues. Shockwave therapy may be an option for you, but it’s best to work with your provider on a treatment plan personalized to your needs.