Can Shockwave Therapy Treat Your ED? Here’s What You Need to Know
Can Shockwave Therapy Treat Your ED? Here’s What You Need to Know
Erectile dysfunction is a common issue 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 suffer from ED in their lifetime. If you’re wondering whether you fall into this category, the clinic defines trouble getting and maintaining an erection more than 50% of the time as an indicator of ED.
Luckily, plenty of treatment options available today can help get you back in the sack in no time. But if popping a pill before every sexual encounter to maintain an erection seems like a mood killer, shockwave therapy, a non-medication alternative treatment for ED, might interest you.
If you’re wondering just how safe it is to pump your private parts with electricity, though, here’s everything you need to know about shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction.
What Is Shockwave Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction?
Shockwave therapy has been around for decades and has successfully treated medical issues that involve soft tissue, from sports injuries like tennis elbow and jumper’s knee and other issues.
“Shockwave therapy has been used for treating kidney stones for decades,” says Dr. Tracy Gapin, a urologist based in Sarasota, Florida. “Studies show that when done at a very low intensity, shockwave therapy can stimulate a process called angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels or new blood flow.”
I’ll bet you can see where this is going already. As Dr. Laura Purdy, wisp medical advisor and sexual wellness clinic physician, explains, this technology is helpful for men who have issues with vessels that carry blood through the body — which can become damaged from a number of issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes.
“Shockwave therapy is non-surgical and non-invasive — and can be done with numbing cream applied for minimal to no discomfort,” Purdy says.
How long does shockwave therapy for ED take?
Treatment protocol varies by the patient’s needs, but the average treatment time ranges between 15 and 20 minutes.
“Typically, we do treatment twice a week for three weeks, six treatments total, then take a break for a month to let it work and then potentially do another six treatments after that,” Gapin explains.
It’s important to note that shockwave therapy is rarely utilized as the sole treatment for ED. Gapin says in addition to shockwave therapy, he works with patients to address all other aspects of their health that might impact sexual function — from hormone imbalances to correcting stress, gut microbiome issues and more.
“If you don’t address [these issues], then you’re not going to get the results,” he says.
During the duration of treatment, patients are encouraged to use a vacuum erection device or ‘penis pump.’
“Many clinics will utilize vacuum erection devices after the procedure for a certain amount of time to encourage blood flow to the area where the healing and remodeling and blood vessels are occurring,” Purdy explains.
Who is a candidate for shockwave therapy for ED?
Because shockwave therapy provides improved blood flow, the best candidates for shockwave therapy are men who have ED due to issues with the functioning of their vascular system.
“Shockwave therapy is only intended for people with vasculogenic causes for their ED –something dysfunctional in their vessels that allow blood flow in and out of the penis,” says Purdy.
“This will not be an effective treatment for someone with psychogenic (stress-related) ED, medication-induced ED (such as with antidepressants) or neurologic ED (such as in the case of spinal cord injury).”
The duration of symptoms and type of ED are also factors to consider.
“Men who have very mild ED or mild issues with sexual performance are much more likely to respond than men who have severe ED,” Gapin explains. He also notes that men who have experienced ED issues 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?
If you’re still on the fence about shockwave therapy, the overall risks involved are pretty low.
“There is a potential for bruising or trauma to the area, which is very rare,” says Purdy. “There may be some discomfort if inadequate anesthesia is used. However, many patients find that they can actually tolerate the procedure without anesthesia and with minimal pain.”
There’s also the potential risk that treatment may not yield results — which is why it’s important to discuss whether or not you’re a candidate for shockwave therapy with a medical professional before treatment.
What is the success rate of shockwave therapy for ED?
There’s plenty of research to indicate that shockwave therapy is, in fact, effective for treating ED when used on candidates with vascular issues. When it comes to success rates, Gapin stresses the importance of finding a shockwave therapy provider that addresses the patient as a whole to yield the most successful results.
“It’s tough to give a specific number here on success because, unfortunately, there are a lot of clinics out there that will treat anyone who is willing to give a credit card,” says Gapin.
If you’re interested in shockwave therapy for ED, it’s important to find a provider that will not only do the due diligence of reviewing your medical history to determine candidacy for the treatment, but one that will offer treatment beyond shockwave therapy for best results.
“We see over 80% success rates because we carefully select patients who would be appropriate candidates,” says Gapin. “We also emphasize that we only get those results because we treat the entire human — understanding that a man has multiple other systems at play, which can affect his performance.”
While shockwave therapy can be an effective treatment for the right candidates, it’s important to rule out any larger potential medical issues with your doctor first. Erectile dysfunction can often be a symptom of something else happening in the body that needs to be addressed, so scheduling 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 reside, shockwave therapy treatments can cost around $400 to $500 per session, with many providers offering discounts on packages and providing payment plans to help make the treatment more accessible.
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