Does Acoustic Wave Therapy Really Work for Erectile Dysfunction?

Acoustic wave therapy is a low-intensity shockwave therapy (LiSWT) that has been used to improve healthy blood flow. It is a non-invasive treatment that repairs and strengthens blood vessels in the penis area to help generate better erections and performance. A gel is used as an interface to conduct shock pulses, and a doctor uses a portable probe to administer them. A topical anesthetic solution is applied to the patient's genitals before each session, and a dorsal block of the penis can be used to completely block the nerve response during therapy if the patient is especially nervous about pain.

A recent trial revealed that shockwave therapy worked well to restore erectile function in men with mild to moderate vasculogenic ED. However, it had no effect in men with severe erectile dysfunction as a result of diabetes or in those who had undergone prostatectomy, cystectomy or radiation. It also had no effect on men with Peyronie's disease. There were no sham arms in the trial to evaluate the placebo effect.

Low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT) is a safe treatment for men with erectile dysfunction and may work to improve, or even cure, ED in some patients. It accelerates the body's healing response, stimulating the treated tissues to grow new blood vessels, improving erection performance. Most people can return to normal activity the day after shockwave therapy, but the urologist will discuss whether you need to restrict your activity longer to recover. Acoustic wave therapy for ED, known as Shockwave or GAINSWave, stimulates the corpora cavernosa (arteries of the penis) and associated nerve tissue.

Different solutions with different strengths are used, depending on the patient's health and individual response to pain. A shockwave therapy regimen usually includes six different treatments, but treatment protocols may change as more research becomes available. Acoustic wave therapy works best for men who have mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, which usually means that oral medications such as Viagra work well or at least help a little. We know that there are certain treatments, conditions and individual histories that are likely to respond better or worse to acoustic wave therapy.

It is affordable and results are much more spontaneous, immediate and long-term than many other methods. FDA approval for a low-density extracorporeal shockwave device to treat ED is probably years away, according to Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, Assistant Professor of Urology and Director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at the University of Miami. For men who are not candidates for acoustic wave treatment or if acoustic wave therapy does not provide satisfactory improvement, other treatments are available for ED.