This article explains how shockwave therapy is now being used as a new and innovative treatment option for erectile dysfunction
Inability to maintain a penile erection for sexual intercourse, also referred to as impotence.
It is estimated that 2.3 million men in the UK suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). This is the inability to get or maintain an erectionThe enlarged, rigid state of the penis during sexual arousal.. The causes of ED include a range of physical and psychological factors. In around 70% of cases, ED results from medical conditions such as peripheral vascularRelating to blood vessels. disease, diabetesA disorder caused by insufficient or absent production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or because the tissues are resistant to the effects., cardiovascular diseaseDisease of the heart and blood vessels, usually due to atherosclerosis. and others, where the bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. flow is disrupted. This is known as vasculogenic ED.
A number of options are available to treat the symptoms of ED, the most common of which are drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra (known as PDE5 inhibitors); vacuum pumps, injections and implants are also options.
Until now, there has been no curative method of treating ED by naturally improving and increasing blood flow. However, it is now possible to treat ED using shockwave therapy (EDSWT). This technique treats the root cause of the problem through the creation of new blood vessels and therefore offers a potential cure for erectile dysfunction.
EDSWT does not involve the use of any pharmaceuticals, and it causes no side effects or stressRelating to injury or concern. to other organs or healthy tissueA group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function.. It is non-invasiveAny test or technique that does not involve penetration of the skin. The term 'non-invasive' may also describe tumours that do not invade surrounding tissues. and requires no sedation or anaesthesia.
Shockwave therapy uses pulsed sound waves that are applied to the treatment area using a machine called the ED 1000. The therapy leads to the creation of new, functioning blood vessels, which greatly increases blood flow. The treatment is painless and done over a period of nine weeks with each treatment taking about 20 minutes. The growth of new blood vessels is known as angiogenesis.
Clinical data shows that three out of four patients with vasculogenic ED will benefit from shockwave therapy. The treatment is relatively new and there is good data to support it with longer term data being generated all the time. In clinical trials, EDSWT has shown significant long-term effectiveness after a one year follow up period. These results have been confirmed by a controlled study.
The treatment is painless and is performed on five different sites on the penile shaft and muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. attaching to the pelvisThe bony basin formed by the hip bones and the lower vertebrae of the spine; also refers to the lower part of the abdomen.. Initially treatment is given twice a week for three weeks, then there is a break for three weeks, followed by further treatment twice a week for three weeks. This is done in an out-patient setting.
An initial consultation would be done with a doctor prior to any treatment being undertaken.
For patients currently being treated with medication there are two distinct groups who can benefit:
Those who respond to medication – after treatment with EDSWT about 50% of this group will no longer need medication, and a further 25% will only need it occasionally.
Chronic patients who do not respond to their medication – after EDSWT treatment, 73% of this group will go on to respond to their medication.
For patients who are excluded from using pharmaceutical treatments (due to medical history or side effects), EDSWT offers an alternative treatment option and with it, some hope.