For more than twenty years, the standard treatments for erectile dysfunction haven’t changed. The most common treatment - prescription medications like Viagra, Cialis, and their generic equivalents - allow most mento achieve an erection, but does not cure the underlying condition. |
Recently, many doctors and men’s health clinics have started to offer a new treatment, Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (LI-ESWT), commonly called shockwave therapy.
Shockwave therapy is used to treat vascular problems, the most common cause of ED. Shockwave therapy works on three levels:
(1) It breaks up plaque that can restrict blood flow in the penis,
(2) It improves the performance of smooth muscle and endothelial cells that help to produce erections, and
(3) It promotes the growth of new blood vessels through a process called angiogenesis.
Shockwave therapy is not new; it’s been used for many years to treat a variety of conditions, including sports injuries, bone fractures, treating achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. Its use as a treatment for erectile dysfunction is fairly new.
There is still a debate over the effectiveness of shockwave therapy, but there is a growing body of evidence from independent clinical studies showing that it is a safe and effective treatment. Proponents claim that, unlike prescription ED medications, it can actually cure erectile dysfunction.
A study conducted in 2016 found shockwave therapy to be effective for men who do not respond to prescription medications, and that the benefits persisted for 12 months .
A review of previous studies, published in 2019, found overall positive results .
Shockwave therapy has also been used as a treatment for Peyronie’s Disease (a connective-tissue disorder, frequently characterized by the development of scar tissue within the penis, causing curved, painful erections) and male urinary incontinence.
LI-ESWT is usually administered in a series of 6-12 treatments over a period of several weeks . The treatments are non-intrusive and painless. A shockwave device is passed up and down the penis; sessions typically last about 30 minutes. Shockwave therapy is often combined with daily use of a penis pump to promote blood flow in the penis.
The therapy is relatively expensive; a series on treatments in a men’s health clinic typically costs several thousand dollars.
To reduce the costs, some companies now produce home devices for shockwave therapy. One device, the Phoenix, was designed by a clinic operator and a urologist to match the energy signature and treatment protocols of clinical equipment.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy certainly does not work for everyone. There isn’t enough data to determine what percentage of men will be helped.
However, there is enough clinical evidence to show that it is a viable treatment option. And unlike current prescription medicines, it offers the potential to actually reverse the condition.
While the treatment is costly, at-home devices have made the treatment more affordable.
 Bechara A, Casabé A, De Bonis W, Ciciclia PG. Twelve-Month Efficacy and Safety of Low-Intensity Shockwave Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction in Patients Who Do Not Respond to Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors. Sex Med. 2016 Dec;4(4):e225-e232. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jul 18. PMID: 27444215; PMCID: PMC5121537.
 Sokolakis, I., Hatzichristodoulou, G. Clinical studies on low intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Int J Impot Res 31, 177–194 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-019-0117-z
 ED Treatment Information Center, Shockwave Therapy (LI-ESWT) for Erectile Dysfunction, Nov 2020.
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