Low-intensity shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT) has been used for years to help with wound healing and improve healing of bone fractures and damaged or inflamed tendons and ligaments.
Now, this treatment is being offered for men with erectile dysfunction (ED) caused by inadequate blood flow to the penis, called vasculogenic ED.
Shock Waves for ED: Boosting the Blood Flow
Qualified urologists say that Li-ESWT may be an option, particularly, for men with mild to moderate ED who’ve had success with medications known as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors.
The wand-like device for providing shock wave therapy has a very long track record as a device in terms of efficacy and safety. If someone, for instance, takes a PDE5 inhibitor and has a great response but wants to not have to take it, those are patients who typically do very well with the treatment.
Erections require a sufficient blood supply, and anything that limits blood flow to the penis — such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes — can lead to ED.
With Li-ESWT, a physician uses a wand-like device to deliver mild shockwaves right to the penis. Studies have found that the treatment is associated with the growth of new blood vessels and (in animal studies) recruitment of stem cells to the penis.
In a recent meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials involving a total of nearly 900 men with vasculogenic ED, researchers reported that, compared with sham treatment, Li-ESWT resulted in significant improvements in measures of erectile function and penile blood flow.
What type of results can you expect from Li-ESWT?
For men with vasculogenic ED, doctors administer Li-ESWT once a week for six weeks, although the ideal treatment protocol has yet to be determined. Each treatment session lasts about 15 minutes. No anesthesia is necessary, and for upwards of 95% of patients, the procedure is painless.
Experts find success about 62% of the time. I define success as going from no erections to having erections able to penetrate or having PDE5 inhibitors no longer work and now they work great. The benefits of treatment tend to remain durable for at least a year.
Who is a good candidate for Li-ESWT?
Generally, men with mild to moderate vasculogenic ED who have had some response to PDE5 inhibitors are ideal candidates for Li-ESWT. Other men, such as those with nerve damage due to pelvic cancer surgery and those with ED resulting from psychological causes, typically don’t respond to the treatment, according to experts.
Although Li-ESWT has a long track record in medicine, its use for treating ED in the United States is relatively new. Insurance for Li-ESWT treatment would be a very reasonable option as part of an integrated treatment approach.
Experts say, for the right patient who’s counseled the right way, it’s a low- to zero-risk treatment that may have surprisingly good effects. If it doesn’t break the bank for you to have this therapy, it’s certainly worth considering.
Men interested in better erections and sexual performance may see improvement with one of the newest treatments for ED. Shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction uses soundwaves waves to increase blood flow in the penis, so there’s no surgery, drugs, or invasive procedures.
It may be a good option for men who:
- Desire a treatment to reverse the underlying cause of ED.
- Look for a better response to the oral medicines used to treat ED.
- Want a non-invasive treatment for their ED before moving on to other options.
The typical treatment course is 6 treatments over 6 weeks, and 50-80% of patients will report an improvement in their erections 30 days after they have completed the full treatment cycle.
How long does Shockwave Therapy for ED last?
Individual results will vary, however, some studies have shown that a positive response can last up to two years.
What does Shockwave Therapy for ED feel like?
Prior to treatment patients will apply a numbing gel to the penis. Most patients say it feels like a light tapping or tingling sensation and do not experience pain.
What to expect at my appointment?
After patients apply the numbing gel and it takes effect, shockwaves will be directed to various areas around the shaft and base of the penis. Typically, treatment sessions will last about 15 to 20 minutes.
How long does the treatment take and how many treatments are recommended?
Treatment is a simple in-office procedure that takes around 15 to 20 minutes to perform. The typical patient will have six treatment appointments (one treatment per week for 6 weeks).
Is shock wave therapy effective?
Significant testing has been performed and many peer reviews prove shock wave therapy to be effective in 80% of patients.
Any of our urologists can advise you on whether shockwave therapy may be right for you. Please get in touch with us here to get free advice.