What is Acoustic or ShockWave Therapy For ED?

IN THE LOVE LAB -With Dr. Rachael December 16, 2011

What is it?

IN THE LOVE LAB -With Dr. Rachael December 16, 2011

First things first, the two names are used interchangeably but it all means the same thing. It’s like the difference between saying you are going to the ATM versus saying you are going to the cash machine. As a matter of fact, this erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment method is also referred to as sound wave or low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy – it’s all the same thing. So, don’t be scared when you see a different name out there.
 

Shockwave or acoustic wave therapy uses the energy found in acoustic waves to break apart plaques that have clogged up the arteries responsible for the erection, and to activate a process called “neovascularization.” When neovascularization happens, new blood vessels are formed in the body. The tissue within the penis is transformed, new blood vessels form, and old blood vessels become healthier.
 
All of these processes combine so that over time you can have firmer erections. As a result, blood flow is improved.

Previously, this form of therapy has largely been utilized to help patients with kidney stones, joint inflammation, and tendinopathies (tendon disorders). Although it has not been FDA approved for erectile function, within the past ten years it has gained traction for this purpose.
 
In fact, I use it on my own patients, and shockwave or acoustic therapy is the latest advancement in the arsenal of tools we have to treat ED. Read on to find out if it can help you and if so, how to go about getting treated using shockwave for ED.

The Aim of This Article

This article will explore the recent surge in the use of shockwave or acoustic therapy to help treat ED. It will answer questions on how the process works, who this therapy will benefit, its success compared to other ED treatment methods, costs and other burning questions associated with this treatment method.
     
  • There are various methods of treatment available for men who suffer from ED. These treatment methods include pills, penile injections, surgical procedures, as well as vacuum erection devices. However, all these therapies have certain things in common:
  • They are usually done on an ‘as-needed’ basis they usually work for only one sexual occurrence at a time.
  • They don’t allow you to be spontaneous and to just enjoy the moment because a certain level of planning is involved.
  • None of them ‘fix’ the issue.
  In the long run, a temporary fix proves to be frustrating, leads to limited sexual activity, and in many cases anxiety. As a functional medicine physician, I always like to get to the root cause of the issue, and then to work to fix the underlying cause. None of these strategies do that. Shockwave or acoustic wave therapy is different when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. This treatment method aims to treat the erectile mechanism within the penis so that the man is more likely to have naturally occurring and spontaneous erection on their own.

What is Acoustic or ShockWave Therapy?

The original term for shockwave therapy is low-intensity shockwave therapy (LiSWT). This method is a non-invasive therapy that has been, in the past used in urology to break up kidney stones, and in the field of rehab and physiotherapy to help those with injured tendons and musculoskeletal injury. By using targeted high-energy sound waves, LiSWT speeds up tissue repair and cell growth within the target areas of the human body. The ability for shockwave therapy to repair damaged areas of tissue, is the fundamental explanation behind its success in the treatment of ED.

How Do You Get and Keep an Erection?

Understanding the physiology behind an erection is fairly simple, and it is imperative to figuring out what remedy is going to be right for you. A strong erection requires good blood flow. If the blood vessels within your penis cannot expand in order to accommodate a surge of blood, your erection will suffer. You will be unable to get a hard cock.

Blood flow is the most important aspect of an erection. When a male is sexually stimulated, the penile arteries widen so that the tissue can fill with blood. This blood flow is the mechanism behind the penis’s firmness; which is needed for penetration to take place. After the blood flows into the arteries, in order to keep the penis hard for more than a few minutes, the valves within the veins that are present to drain blood away from the penis, must be closed completely off. These veins are closed off when the penis is full from the pressure of blood flow. If the veins are not closed off, you will lose your erections quickly because there wasn’t enough pressure to keep them closed.

To complicate matters even further, due to various reasons such as age, health imbalances, or lifestyle, your penile blood vessels get clogged with plaque over time, and the tissue that used to be elastic, starts to harden and become stiff. As a result, there is less blood flow to your penis and a reduction in your ability to have a spontaneous erection. You also have a reduced ability to last long, and a decline in the overall enjoyment of sex.

Any man who has issues or challenges with blood flow to his penis will almost always have weaker erections that won’t stay hard as long as he would like. In severe cases, he may be unable to get an erection at all.

Causes of ED

Once you begin to have issues with your erection, there may be a number of reasons why.
     
  1. Reduced blood flow due to a reduced amount of nitric oxide and/or damaged tissue: Ideally a man should get four to five erections while he sleeps. These erections are important because they keep the tissue healthy. Think of it as if the penis tissue gets a bath of nutrient and oxygen rich blood 4-5 times a night. This is nature’s version of penis exercise. When these nocturnal or night-time erections decrease in number, the tissue becomes less healthy, it loses its’ elasticity, and erections suffer.
  2.  
  3. Testosterone or other hormonal imbalance: Erectile health comes from a balance of testosterone and other important hormones. When these are thrown off, it becomes difficult to get and to maintain an erection.
  4.  
  5. A Swollen or damaged prostate: The prostate sits at the base of the penis and plays an important role in erectile function. If it is weak, inflamed, swollen, or damaged, erectile dysfunction can set it.
  6.  
  7. Performance Anxiety: After struggling to maintain an erection, it may provoke anxiety when you try again. After a failed attempt you assume that since it didn’t work last time, the next time will be a struggle as well. If you think it, so shall it be.
  8.  
  9. Nerve damage: Messaging that travels through the nerves in the genital area is an important part of erectile function. Disrupted nerves can interfere with erectile function.

How Does Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy Impact Blood Flow to the Penis?

Acoustic or shockwave therapy fights against the lack of blood flow. It tries to remedy the ED by helping you:

  • Reestablish normal blood flow to your penis
  • Grow new blood vessels to supply the tissue.
  • Break up the plaques that have formed within the blood vessels
    Soften the tissue that has hardened through the years
  • Have a more sensitive penis

This treatment method uses non-surgical, low-intensity acoustic waves to trigger the creation of new blood vessels within the penis. These new blood vessels lead to an improvement in the blood flow. Improved blood flow then encourages stronger and longer erections. Acoustic wave therapy can also help to promote natural and spontaneous erections when sexually aroused.

I have had a large number of patients present to the clinic with the main goal of being able to get and maintain an erection without using pills like Cialis or Viagra. Within six to twelve treatments, most of them have been successful. Of course, all of these patients also go through The Erection Tune-Up System as well. Each individual is different.

I also have had patients who no longer can achieve an erection even on the above-mentioned prescription medication. I always integrate acoustic wave therapy into the protocol of these patients as well. It is an important part of rehabilitating an erection.

A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine followed twenty-nine men with ED that responded poorly to prescription drugs like Viagra and Cialis. They underwent shockwave therapy twice a week for three weeks which was then repeated after a three week break from treatment. Improvement in blood flow and erectile function was noted and 72% of them were able to penetrate during intercourse again.

There are several companies such as GAINSWave® and BigD Wave® that have developed specific protocols and marketing programs that use high-frequency acoustic sound waves to treat ED. These companies sell their protocol and turnkey marketing program to medical offices in exchange for the clinic to be able to advertise that they offer their “trademarked” name. However, they do not have any proprietary devices to conduct the treatment method. Each physician is different, and each treatment will be different.

How Does Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy for ED Work?

The science behind Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy is that it uses high frequency, low intensity acoustical or sound waves. When these sound waves are applied to the penis and surrounding tissue, the micro-plaques that exists within the blood vessels break apart. Simultaneously, the cavitary lesions (pits) that are created, causes there to be a growth of new blood vessels. When you combine this process with the exercises within The Erection Tune-up, the results can be magnificent, however results vary! 

Shockwave therapy is carried out with a wand-like device that is placed in several places around the penis. In the clinic, we place the wand in areas that the corresponds to where we need improved blood flow, or the improvement of nerve function. The probe that is used is coated with a special gel that allows for the acoustic waves to penetrate through the surface of the penis. 

The clinician (or individual if using a home treatment version), moves the device along several parts of the patient’s penis for about 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, the device emits gentle, yet firm pulses of pressure. The pulses create cavitary lesions, or dents within the tissue that triggers growth factors and other important intermediaries to result in improved blood circulation. The tissue is remodeled within the patient’s penis. 

These changes can effectively lead to longer and more spontaneous erections, increased sensitivity, and an improved overall sexual experience.  Anesthesia is not needed for this process; however, some clinicians offer their patients the ability to use a numbing gel. I do not offer the numbing gel in my clinic because feeling the sound waves hit, is part of the Erection Tune-Up process. The goal is to wake up the sleeping beast! I certainly don’t want to numb him and put him back to sleep. Patients usually do not experience much pain. However, they will feel a tingling or stinging sensation in the areas that are being treated. 

In a nutshell, shockwave therapy does the following:

    • Improves the blood flow issue within the penis, whereas drugs like Viagra just work in the moment.
    • Allows for gains that can either be accomplished alongside a physician or within the comfort of your own home.
    • It expands the existing blood vessels, and at the same time to grow new ones. As a result, there is more blood to the penis.
    • Have a more sensitive penis
    • Allows you to obtain stronger, larger, and longer-lasting erections.
    • Improves sensitivity of the penis. As men age the penis becomes less sensitive, shockwave helps to bring the sensitivity back.
    • The treatment method is also helpful even if you don’t suffer from ED, and you just want a Tune-Up. Studies find that men with mild to moderate ED can expect stronger erections and increased sensitivity after shockwave treatment.
    • Acoustic wave therapy offers men a painless, yet expensive option.

    Does Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy Actually Work?

    Clinical trials for shockwave therapy for ED have produced encouraging and positive results. The procedure has been well received by most of the patients.

    Many men suffering from ED have found that their erections have improved significantly. They have reported that they are now able to enjoy intercourse with their partners as they have longer and harder erections. Some men that suffer from more severe cases of ED may still need to supplement shockwave therapy with their prescribed ED medication for the best results, but the majority still see positive outcomes.

    Shockwave therapy is carried out with a wand-like device that is placed in several places around the penis. In the clinic, we place the wand in areas that the corresponds to where we need improved blood flow, or the improvement of nerve function. The probe that is used is coated with a special gel that allows for the acoustic waves to penetrate through the surface of the penis.

    According to a 2010 pilot study, 20 men were treated for vasculogenic ED (caused by blood flow) with shockwave therapy. The results found that all of the 20 patients experienced improved erectile function assessed 6 months after undergoing shockwave treatment. In the follow-up interview, no adverse effects that were found. This makes a great case for the use and wide-spread adoption of shockwave treatment for those suffering from ED.

    Ongoing research on shockwave therapy shows that there is indeed hope for all men suffering from varying levels of ED. Whether erectile dysfunction is caused by the removal of his prostate, caused by blood flow issues, or even the result of nerve damage. With the proper treatment, most men can experience sexual satisfaction and reinvigorated sex life even if they currently suffer from ED.

    It really just depends. There are a growing number of medical centers offering shockwave therapy treatment, and the best news is that now you can even order the equipment and complete the treatment at home. In real life, as a physician, I have experienced mostly success stories. However, I push my patients to follow The Erection Tune-Up and to make strides in other facets of their health. I put my patients through a penile exercise. Your penis has a muscular component. Just like your abs, if you don’t use those muscles, they will de-compensate and become flab.

    A large part of each of my patient’s success depends on lifestyle changes. On top of the lifestyle changes, they must do their exercises. Acoustic or Shockwave therapy works best while working with a physician who ensures that your testosterone in balanced, your prostate is healthy, the arteries that bring blood into your penis are in optimal shape, and that the lifestyle changes are made to keep your penis healthy and happy. These are the components of the Erection Tune-Up.

    Am I a Good Candidate for Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

    In short, shockwave therapy is best suited for:

      •  
    • Men who want their erections to stand taller and/or last longer, but don’t necessarily suffer from ED.
    • Men who suffer from mild to moderate ED
    • Men who want to have more spontaneous erections when sexually aroused.
    • Men who want to no longer rely on prescription meds for their erectile health. They either want to stop completely or reduce their use of medication to have an erection.
    • Men who have Peyronie’s disease (penis curve)
    • Men who are working with their physician because they are no longer able to get an erection at all

    How Much Does Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy Cost?

    Shockwave therapy can be done at your doctor’s or you can do it from the comfort of your home. However, since it’s still new, it is still quite expensive. DIY shockwave home treatment devices like The Phoenix cost from $879. They offer the ease of home use, however there are pros and cons with each version of acoustic wave treatment.

    Private physicians and treatment centers such as GAINSWave charge anywhere from $300 – $500 and per session. Each cycle of treatment consists of six sessions which will cost you at least $1800. The cost of shockwave therapy is its biggest disadvantage at the moment.

    How Does Acoustic or Shockwave Therapy Compare to Other Treatments?

    Shockwave therapy offers long-term results and is not a single-use solution. However, shockwave therapy is still considered an experimental treatment. Despite all of the encouraging research, America’s drug regulation body, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to approve shockwave therapy as a viable treatment for ED. Many doctors may still offer or recommend shockwave therapy for ED, as a matter of fact, I love when my patients can afford it. It makes my job much easier. However, currently, it is considered off-label.

    How many treatments Will I Need?

    Research has not yet established any recommendations with regards to a treatment period or frequency. However, a recently held review and analysis of conducted clinical trials discovered that the most common treatment plan was twice a week for about 3 weeks, followed by another 3 weeks without treatments, and then another 3 weeks of twice-weekly treatments protocols. That amounts to twelve treatments in total, which will cost anywhere from $6000 – $8000 depending on where you go. This regimen hasn’t been set in stone, so the treatment protocol can vary according to who you are, and what your doctor has recommended. As always, it’s good to carry out your own research so you can have as much information as possible on the subject.

    How Long Do the Effects Typically Last?

    Researchers have found that the effects of shockwave therapy usually last about a year. This can vary from one person to the other. This is also greatly affected by other (personal) factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history. After a year, if men have not made integral lifestyle changes, they will oftentimes need be seen in the clinic for a number of treatments in order to continue to experience the original gains. If the patient has a home device, they can just provide extra treatment throughout the year.

    What Are the Side Effects of Shockwave Therapy for ED?

    If you commit to doing shockwave therapy for ED, there may be side effects like pain and bruising, however, minimal side effects have been recorded in trials. This is a non-surgical, drug-free procedure. Which is one of the many reasons why I love it!

    In conclusion…

    If you suffer from ED, talk to your doctor and find out If this is a viable option for treatment is right for you. Every man wants a fulfilling sex life. I always want you to know that there is hope for any man suffering from ED. Shockwave treatment is a step in the right direction. Combine shockwave treatment with the principles of The Erection Tune-up, and you cannot go wrong. Here is a link to read more about the at-home version of shockwave therapy, The Phoenix.