Shock Therapy for Treating Erectile Dysfunction
Shock therapy for treating erectile dysfunction borrows from the shock (sound wave) therapy commonly use to breakup kidney stones. In a recent study, researchers have found that applying sound waves to the penis is an effective way to treat erectile dysfunction in men who are unresponsive to erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is a common symptom of an aging penis. Just as with other organs such as the heart, kidneys and eyes, the penis also undergoes structural and biochemical changes that affect performance.
With the aging penis everything gets longer except for length. As a man ages, testosterone levels fall and it takes a longer period of stimulation than usual to achieve arousal. And, once aroused, it typically takes longer to achieve a full erection and longer to reach orgasm. Studies show that erectile dysfunction is clearly linked to an aging penis: between the ages of 40 and 70, the percentage of sexually performing men falls from 60 percent to approximately 30 percent.
However, not all cases of erectile dysfunction are due to aging. The majority of cases are due to medical conditions that affect the vascular system such as with high blood pressure and diabetes; or, with the nervous system such as with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and stroke. A much smaller number of cases are due to psychological causes.
A clinical diagnosis of erectile dysfunction; therefore, is much more involved and complex than a simple characterization due to a wide range of medical problems, conditions and medications that may temporarily affect a penis’s ability to become erect.
To achieve an erection there are four requirements that must be met:
1. An intact system of blood vessels that allows blood to flow freely into and out of the penis.
2. The ability to trap blood within the shaft of penis to maintain rigidity.
3. A properly functioning nervous system wired to the penis.
4. A normal smooth muscle relaxation function in the penis so that the penis can become engorged with blood.
The fourth requirement is a common cause of erectile dysfunction and as such is remedied through a number of medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, which are a class of drugs that are known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors work by causing the smooth muscle portion of a penis to relax, which in turn allows the penis to fill with blood.
However, in some cases of erectile dysfunction, the use of PDE-5 inhibitor medications are not effective in curing impotence. In a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers report that individuals with erectile dysfunction who are unresponsive to commonly prescribed erectile dysfunction medications may successfully be treated with shock wave therapy commonly used to treat patients with kidney stones.
Previous studies have shown that low intensity sound waves can improve blood flow and increase blood vessel growth. The hypothesis of the researchers of the shock therapy study was that sound wave treatment applied directly to the penis may increase blood flow to the penis and thereby counter erectile dysfunction due to poor perfusion.
Shock Therapy Study for ED treatment
In the study, researchers applied low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy (LI-ESWT) to 29 men of an average age of 61 with erectile dysfunction that was unresponsive to medication. The shock waves of sound were of lower intensity than that used for breaking-up kidney stones.
Prior to the treatment, the participants were given a survey that assessed their current levels of erectile dysfunction. On average, the participants scored an overall 8.8 on an International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scoring system. The International Index of Erectile Function is a multi-dimensional self-reporting survey that evaluates male sexual function ability. Scoring values range as follows:
• No erectile dysfunction = 26 – 30
• Mild erectile dysfunction = 22 – 25
• Mild to moderate erectile dysfunction = 17 – 21
• Moderate erectile dysfunction = 11 – 16
• Severe erectile dysfunction = 6 - 10.
Treatment involved multiple sessions during a nine-week treatment period. Each session consisted of 300 shocks over a period of three minutes on five different points along the shaft of the penis.
Two months following the shock therapy treatments, the participants were evaluated again using the International Index of Erectile Function scoring system. What the researchers found was that sexual function increased an average of 10 points on the scaling system, with 8 or the 29 participants achieving normal sexual function.
The results of the shock therapy for treating sexual dysfunction has led the researchers to conclude that shock therapy holds promise for a specific subgroup of men suffering from erectile dysfunction. They propose that larger studies are needed to confirm their results to conclusively prove that shock wave treatment for sexual dysfunction is a safe and effective therapy for impotent men with ED.
Source: The Journal of Sexual Medicine 18 OCT 2011