Updated: Jun 17
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is a procedure that requires the passage of acoustic energy waves through tissues and is used to treat a variety of disorders, including kidney stones, tendonitis, and heart disease. ESWT has intrigued the attention of cardiologists due to its possible role in angiogenesis. As a result, interest in ESWT's potential as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) has grown.
ESWT is a treatment option for ED which was recently introduced. Unlike other existing ED treatments, which are all palliative in nature, ESWT is unique in that it seeks to restore the erectile mechanism, allowing normal or spontaneous erections.
Shock Wave Therapy is a cutting-edge, highly efficient non-invasive treatment technique that doesn't require surgery, downtime, or the possibility of being drugged during the procedure.
Healthy blood flow to the penile tissue is needed for erections. Shockwave therapy is thought to be a good way to restore and expand blood vessels in the penis while also improving blood flow. It shares the same mechanism of more conventional ED therapies, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).
Shock wave therapy has been used to promote the growth of new blood vessels in the heart since 2005. Over the period of 1-2 years after treatment, clinical trials have demonstrated a substantial increase in erectile function.
How Does ESWT Works?
Shockwave therapy is delivered by the use of a wand-like tool that is positioned near various areas of the penis. The device is moved along sections of your penis for about 15 minutes while emitting gentle pulse. There is no need for anaesthesia.
The relatively weak but well-targeted shockwave communicate with the deep tissues, causing mechanical stress and microtrauma. These in turn cause a series of biological reactions that result in the release of angiogenic factors, which leads to the growth of new blood vessels and improved blood flow. Both of these changes can lead to erections sufficient for sex.
Generally, men with mild to moderate vasculogenic ED who have had some response to PDE5 inhibitors are ideal candidates for LISWT. 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
Getting the Treatment
In theory, shockwave therapy can benefit all patients with ED, as well as boost erections in men who don't have any problems or preventing erectile dysfunction. Due to the fact that it is a modern treatment modality.
There is currently no specified treatment period or frequency guideline.
According to a 2019 study and meta-analysis of clinical trials1, the most common treatment schedule was two to three times a week for three weeks (from 6 to 12 sessions)
The results of shockwave therapy lasted around a year, according to the report.
During the treatment session, the healthcare provider would then use a special probe to administer the shockwave therapy to various parts of the penis and perineum. During the procedure, most patients feel very little discomfort or pain. It is important that you inform your medical provider if you are uncomfortable, as the shockwave strength will be modified accordingly.
Advantages of ESWT
Patients with mild to moderate ED who react well to PDE-5 inhibitors may be able to reclaim their natural erections and no longer need or significantly reduce their reliance on medication. Meanwhile, patients with moderate to serious ED who do not respond to PDE-5 medication and rely on injections or other topical treatments can find that shockwave therapy improves their response to PDE-5 medication.
Other benefits of ESWT includes:
It activates the body's natural repair system.
It helps you to have natural erections.
The effects last a long time.
Corrects the underlying cause of ED. For example, in vasculogenic ED resulting from loss of blood supply. ESWT improves blood flow to the area by facilitating the development of new blood vessels in the cavernosal tissues of the penis.
Painless and non-invasive.
No medication or sedation needed for the procedure.
Risks and Adverse Effects
ESWT is both feasible and tolerable, with no negative or undesirable side effects. Its primary benefit is its ability to enhance and possibly regain erectile function in men with ED without the use of additional medications.
That does not, however, imply that the procedure is risk-free. It's still a novel treatment, so further research is needed to assess side effects, risks, and long-term efficacy.
Shockwave therapy for ED may have the following side effects:
penile skin bruising
blood in urine
infection of the penile skin
Due to the previously mentioned, there may be discomfort or difficulty during sexual intercourse.
The treatment of shockwave therapy causes a pro-inflammatory reaction in the treated tissue. Should you feel pain afterwards, you can use non-prescription painkillers if needed. Anti-inflammatory medications and ice should not be used in the treated area because they may interfere with the body's natural healing abilities.
What Does Research Say?
After 6 months of shockwave therapy, all 20 men with vasculogenic ED improved their erectile function, according to a 2010 pilot report2. The men were followed up on again and found to have had no negative effects.
Shockwave therapy enhanced erectile function dramatically, according to the same 2019 study and meta-analysis1. Men with vasculogenic ED had the best results.
The effects of ESWT on ED in 710 people were studied in a 2017 report. Each participant had five 20-minute sessions per week. Some of them have had supplementary ED drug therapies.
ESWT induced major improvement in erection efficiency in people with and without additional treatment, according to the study.
There was a drop in progress a month after the ESWT sessions. According to the researchers, a longer treatment period could result in better and longer-lasting outcomes.
Despite its various success, shockwave therapy can only be used after consulting with the doctor. They will advise you on whether or not this is a viable choice for you.
The reaction to shockwave therapy treatment is usually positive, but it can take several months before the full effect is realised. If the patient does not see a significant change after 3-4 months, other treatment options may need to be considered.
Other Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Alternatives
The root cause of ED will determine the treatment. ED may be treated in a variety of ways, including medications, lifestyle changes, and surgery. It's possible that you'll need a combination of treatments, such as medicine or talk therapy.
Oral medications known as PDE 5 inhibitors can be useful for certain patients. These include:
To help avoid potential drug reactions, you should consult with a doctor or healthcare professional if you are taking other type of medications.
Lifestyle modifications may also help in treating ED which includes:
consider alternatives to drugs that may aggravate ED, such as beta-blockers and antidepressants.
avoiding tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
use relaxation or counselling to manage stress, emotional, or relationship problems.
regular exercise at least 30 minutes per day.