What you need to know about shock wave therapy for erectile dysfunction
Can Shockwave Therapy Treat Your ED? Here’s what you need to know
Erectile dysfunction is a common problem that men deal with – one that shouldn’t be embarrassing to talk about or seek treatment for.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 1 in 10 men will experience ED at some point in their lives. If you’re wondering if you fall into this category, the clinic defines trouble getting and maintaining an erection as an indicator of ED more than 50% of the time.
Fortunately, many treatment options today can help you get back in the sack in no time. But if popping a pill before every sexual encounter to help maintain an erection seems like a mood killer, you might be interested in shock wave therapy, a non-drug alternative treatment for ED.
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However, if you’re wondering how safe it is to pump your private parts with electricity, here’s everything you need to know about shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction.
What is shock wave therapy for erectile dysfunction?
Shockwave therapy has been around for decades and has successfully treated medical problems affecting soft tissue, from sports injuries such as tennis elbow and jumper’s knee, among other problems.
“Shockwave therapy has been used to treat kidney stones for decades,” says Dr. Tracy Gapin, urologist from Sarasota, Florida. “Studies show that shockwave therapy, when done at very low intensity, can stimulate a process called angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels, or new blood flow.”
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I bet you can already see where this is going. like dr Laura Purdy, wisp’s Medical Advisor and Physician at the Sexual Wellness Clinic, explains this technology is helpful for men who have problems with the vessels that carry blood around the body – caused by a range of problems such as high blood pressure, cholesterol or Diabetes.
“Shockwave therapy is non-surgical and non-invasive — and can be performed with a numbing cream applied for minimal to no discomfort,” says Purdy.
How long does shockwave therapy for ED last?
The treatment protocol varies depending on the patient’s needs, but the average treatment time is between 15 and 20 minutes.
“Typically we do one treatment twice a week for three weeks, six treatments total, then we pause for a month to let it work, and then maybe do another six treatments after that,” Gapin explains.
It’s important to note that shockwave therapy is rarely used as the sole treatment for ED. Gapin says that in addition to shockwave therapy, he works with patients to address all other aspects of their health that might impact sexual function — from hormonal imbalances to correcting stress, issues with the gut microbiome, and more.
“If you don’t speak up [these issues]then you won’t get the results,” he says.
During the treatment period, patients are advised to use a vacuum erection device or a “penile pump”.
“Many clinics use vacuum erection devices for a period of time after the procedure to encourage blood flow to the area where healing and remodeling and blood vessels are taking place,” explains Purdy.
Who is a Candidate for Shockwave Therapy for ED?
Because shockwave therapy improves blood flow, the best candidates for shockwave therapy are men with ED due to problems with their vascular system’s function.
“Shock wave therapy is only for people with vasculogenic causes of their ED — some dysfunction in their vessels that allow blood to flow in and out of the penis,” says Purdy.
“This is not an effective treatment for someone with psychogenic (stress-related) ED, drug-induced ED (eg, with antidepressants), or neurological ED (eg, in the case of a spinal cord injury).”
The duration of the symptoms and the type of ED are also factors to consider.
“Men with very mild ED or mild sexual performance problems are much more likely to respond than men with severe ED,” Gapin explains. He also notes that men who have had ED problems for a shorter duration often respond better to shockwave therapy than men who have had ED for longer.
What Are the Risks of Shockwave Therapy for ED?
Overall, if you’re still undecided about shockwave therapy, the risks involved are pretty small.
“There is a possibility of bruising or trauma in this area, which is very rare,” says Purdy. “There can be discomfort if inadequate anesthesia is used. However, many patients find that they can actually tolerate the procedure without anesthesia and with minimal pain.”
There is also a potential risk of treatment not yielding results – which is why it is important to discuss with a doctor whether or not you are a candidate for shockwave therapy before treatment.
What is the success rate of shockwave therapy for ED?
There is plenty of research to suggest that shockwave therapy is indeed effective for treating ED when used on candidates with vascular issues. In terms of success rates, Gapin emphasizes the importance of finding a shockwave therapy provider that addresses the patient as a whole in order to achieve the most successful results.
“It’s difficult to give a specific success number here because unfortunately there are many clinics that will treat anyone who is willing to give a credit card,” says Gapin.
If you are interested in shockwave therapy for ED, it is important to find a provider who not only reviews your medical history with due diligence to determine a candidacy for treatment, but one who offers treatment beyond shockwave therapy to get the best results.
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“We see success rates in excess of 80% because we carefully select patients who would be good candidates,” says Gapin. “We also emphasize that we are only achieving these results because we are treating the whole person – we understand that there are several other systems at play with a man that can affect his performance.”
While shockwave therapy can be an effective treatment for the right candidates, it’s important to rule out any major potential medical problems with your doctor first. Erectile dysfunction can often be a symptom of something else in the body that needs treatment, so making an appointment with your doctor should be your first step.
How Much Does Shockwave Therapy for ED Cost?
Currently, shockwave therapy for ED is not covered by insurance in the United States. Depending on where you live, shockwave therapy treatments can cost around $400 to $500 per session, with many providers offering discounts on packages and payment plans to make the treatment more accessible.
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