A Complete Overview Of Shockwave Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction

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Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team Published on July 14, 2022

If you're a male who has ever experienced erectile dysfunction, you know how depressing, anxiety-inducing, and emotionally damaging it can be. 

You've most likely already gone to great lengths to find treatments to help you get your groove back in the bedroom. What you've probably found is that there is a huge variety of ED treatments available on the market — some legitimate, some not so much.

One treatment that many people would be surprised to discover is shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction.

Does it really work?

In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about shockwave therapy, including:

  • Why Does Erectile Dysfunction Happen?
  • What Is Shockwave Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction and How Does It Work?
  • What Are the Benefits of Shockwave Therapy Compared to Other Forms of ED Treatment Such as Medication or Surgery?
  • How Safe Is Shockwave Therapy, and What Are the Potential Side Effects Associated With It?
  • Who Should and Shouldn't Get Shockwave Therapy For ED?
  • How Long Is a Typical Session of Shockwave Therapy, and What Results Can I Expect?
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Shockwave Therapy
  • Should I Get Shockwave Therapy?

Let's dive in.

Why Does Erectile Dysfunction Happen?

To understand how shockwave therapy helps erectile dysfunction, it's first important to see why ED happens in the first place. 

Erectile dysfunction (ED), formerly known as impotence, is the inability to maintain or get an erection long enough to have sex. 

It affects 49.4% of men over the age of 40. Having trouble getting an erection from time to time isn't a big cause for concern, but it can be stressful and lead to self-confidence and relationship issues if it becomes an ongoing issue.

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Erectile dysfunction typically happens when not enough blood is able to flow into the penis. 

Sexual arousal in males is a complex system involving many different factors. It includes body parts like the brain, nerves, muscles, hormones, and blood vessels. Because of this, it can be a bit complex trying to discover the root cause of ED issues. It can often be due to a combination of problems.

Here are some examples of causes of ED:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Low testosterone
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heavy tobacco use
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug use
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Treatment for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer

Aging is also a leading cause of erectile dysfunction. 

Any combination of these factors can lead to further mental health problems, like depression, stress, embarrassment, and anxiety. This vicious cycle can lead to relationship issues, an unsatisfactory sex life, and not being able to impregnate your partner.

The good news is that there are several solutions that exist to help treat ED.

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What Is Shockwave Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction, and How Does It Work?

The clinical term for shockwave therapy is low-intensity shockwave therapy (LiSWT). It's a non-invasive treatment that different medical fields have used to help repair injured ligaments, tendons, and broken bones and improve the healing of wounds.

LiSWT uses targeted high-energy sound waves to help speed up cell growth and tissue repair, which in turn improves blood flow. This process is known as neovascularization. 

Erections need a healthy flow of blood to the penile tissue to maintain hardness. These shockwaves have been seen to help grow new blood vessels and create an overall improved blood flow to the penis.

To administer the shockwave therapy, a wand-like device is placed near the penis in different areas. The healthcare provider slowly moves the device around the different areas for around 15 minutes. No anesthesia is needed for the procedure.

It emits gentle pulses that trigger blood to flow easier while helping rebuild tissue in the penis. These are both believed to create stronger erections.

Although it isn't yet FDA-approved, it has shown to have promising results for erectile dysfunction. 

What Are the Benefits of Shockwave Therapy Compared to Other Forms of ED Treatment?

Shockwave therapy can help accelerate the natural healing process in your penis. By improving blood flow, it reduces the chance of experiencing erectile dysfunction. 

There are a wide variety of treatments for ED on the market. These include prescription medications, natural remedies, mechanical devices, and even invasive surgeries. 

Compared to these options, shockwave therapy for ED does have a few significant benefits.

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First, most treatments tend to only target the undesirable symptoms of erectile dysfunction. For example, most medications taken orally have nitric oxide in them. When ingested, this ingredient helps relax the muscles in the penis, leading to better blood flow. 

Once you stop taking the pill, erectile dysfunction will most likely continue to happen. 

On the other hand, shockwave therapy targets erectile dysfunction at its source. It triggers the body's natural healing rhythms and has proven to give ED patients longer-lasting results.

A study conducted in 2017 tested the effects of shockwave treatment for ED on 710 people. Every participant received five 20-minute sessions in a week. The study showed that it caused a significant improvement in erection quality. 

How Safe Is Shockwave Therapy, and What Are the Potential Side Effects Associated With It?

So far, this erectile dysfunction therapy has been proven to be mostly safe and painless for men. However, there hasn't been enough research to 100% label the procedure as safe. More research needs to be conducted to determine any complications and side effects, as well as its long-term effectiveness. 

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So far, most side effects have been reported to be rare and generally mild. They include the following:

  • Bleeding or bruising around the penis
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain at the site of the procedure
  • Painful erection
  • Skin infection near or on the penis
  • A worsening of penile curvature
  • Pain or difficulty during sexual intercourse

Clinical studies have shown that shockwave therapy is generally safe and effective, but time will tell if it is the best treatment for ED.

Who Should and Shouldn't Get Shockwave Therapy For ED?

Although there isn't enough long-term research on shockwave therapy, available evidence shows that it works best for men with mild erectile dysfunction. 

Men that might be most interested in using shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction include:

  • Men who are using ED medications but are not responding to them 
  • Men who are not interested in taking medications
  • Men who are interested in using a natural, regenerative form of therapy to try to reverse the causes of ED

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There isn't a lot of research done for men that take shockwave therapy for ED, but shockwave therapy, as mentioned earlier, is also a common treatment for other injuries like broken bones, torn ligaments, and injured tendons. 

There are several circumstances where the risks of shockwave therapy may be increased, including in people with:

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Nerve disorders
  • Bone cancer
  • Infection in the area that needs treatment
  • Metal plates or pins in the area that needs treatment
  • Steroid injections received in the past 12 weeks

The best course of action is to speak with a healthcare professional to see if getting shockwave treatment for ED is the right path for you.

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How Long Is a Typical Session of Shockwave Therapy, and What Results Can I Expect?

The typical procedure for shockwave therapy takes place in an exam room and does not require any anesthesia. You also don't need to prepare anything in advance for the appointment. 

The entire treatment only lasts about 15 minutes. During the procedure, the urologist will move the device around different areas of the penis. It will send out gentle pulses that encourage blood flow around the penis.

After the treatment, you'll be free to go home. You should be able to drive safely, but if you feel any pain, your doctor can prescribe medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the pain. 

Most people can return to their normal activities the day after the procedure, but it might vary from case to case. Make sure to discuss it with a urologist, as they may recommend you to rest for longer periods of time. 

There isn't yet an established recommendation for the frequency of treatment times, but a 2019 review stated that a common treatment plan was two times a week for three weeks. After that, there would be three weeks with no treatment, followed by another three weeks of treatment twice a week.

After this treatment cycle, the effects of the shockwave therapy lasted for around a year.

In a different study, patients received five sessions in a week and saw significant improvement in penile health but found that the effects were reduced after about a month. This suggests that ongoing treatment might be more effective.

Should I Get Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is a relatively new treatment that doesn't have a lot of long-term research yet recorded. With that said, the clinical studies that have been done show that it might be a promising option for those that are not interested in other common treatments.

No matter what path you choose to take, stay as educated as possible about the different options that are available to you.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Shockwave Therapy

Still have questions regarding shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction? Here are more answers about the procedure:

Is Shockwave Therapy Painful?

Shockwave therapy is non-invasive and non-surgical. Although there may be slight pain or discomfort in the treatment area, it is mostly painless. Patients typically describe the sensation as small pulses against the skin. 

If you find the experience to be painful, the specialist that is conducting the treatment may be able to adjust the device to make it less painful. Most sessions usually last 15 minutes or less, so patients are often able to tolerate any discomfort during the treatment.

Do I Need To Prepare for the Treatment?

There is nothing you need to prepare to receive shockwave therapy. It might be helpful to wear loose clothing so that you can move more easily while still being comfortable.

How Long Does It Take To Recover from Shockwave Therapy?

Most patients are able to return home by themselves and return to their daily activities the following day. Your doctor may recommend that you get additional rest depending on the situation, but in most cases, you can get right back to work.

If you feel discomfort, taking simple over-the-counter pain relief medications can help you feel better. 

You might experience some redness and swelling in the area, but it means that the area is in a healing process. It is normal and will go away after a day or two.

What Are Some Alternatives to Shockwave Therapy For ED?

There are several different kinds of treatments for ED. These include medications, lifestyle changes, natural supplements, and even surgery. Make sure to consult with a doctor, as the best course of treatment depends on your individual medical history.

The most popular oral medications are referred to as PDE-5 inhibitors. These include the following:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra)
  • Avanafil (Stendra)

These pills require a doctor's prescription and are sold under generic and brand-name tablets. They are FDA-approved and are widely popular across the world. There are also services where you can get your prescription filled, ordered, and delivered — all online.

As mentioned earlier, ED can be caused by several different factors. Making positive and healthy lifestyle changes can help improve your situation. These include the following:

  • Exercising more
  • Losing weight
  • Making dietary changes
  • Switching from medications that may contribute to ED like antidepressants or beta-blockers
  • Avoiding overconsumption of alcohol or smoking
  • Managing stress and emotional issues through therapy or relaxing activities like yoga

Lastly, there are several other alternative treatments for ED, but it is highly recommended to exercise caution, especially with products that aren't FDA-approved. That said, some other options include:

  • Vacuum erection devices (penis pumps) 
  • Alprostadil, direct injection into the penis
  • ED rings
  • Surgical penile implants
  • Natural supplements like essential oils

Make sure to speak with a doctor before trying any new kind of ED treatment.

Should I Get Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is a relatively new treatment that doesn't have a lot of long-term research yet recorded. With that said, the clinical studies that have been done show that it might be a promising option for those who are not interested in other common treatments.

No matter what path you choose to take, make sure you stay as educated as possible about the different options that are available to you.

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Disclaimer
This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.