Shockwaves To The Penis Could Replace Viagra

The therapy could help men get erections naturally. iprachenko/Shutterstock

Fed up of having to take that little blue pill? How about a shock to the penis instead?

That may sound like some horrific form of torture, but a new study has found that administering small shockwaves could help, and maybe even cure some cases of erectile dysfunction.

Although medications like Viagra have long been successfully helping soldiers stand to attention, they don’t treat the underlying problem and only work for a matter of hours. While that might be enough to have sex, it means the deed can’t be done spontaneously and essentially requires scheduling – not exactly everyone's recipe for a great sex life. But that’s what sets this new treatment apart: it actually aims to restore erectile function so that men can have erections naturally.

Called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), it involves delivering a focused beam of acoustic waves to a target area where they interact with tissues and induce a small amount of stress and trauma. That may seem counterintuitive, but this effect triggers a cascade of events that ultimately culminate in the release of chemical signals that facilitate the growth of new blood vessels. So by doing this to the penis, the idea is to improve its blood supply and thus restore the erectile mechanism. And before you start firmly crossing your legs, don’t worry – the waves delivered are weak and low-intensity, although you might feel a little burning sensation.

Having already seen positive results from a small pilot study, a group based in Denmark conducted a larger, placebo-controlled study to scrutinize its effects on erectile function. Described in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology, they recruited 112 men ranging in age from 37 to 80 who couldn’t have sex either with or without medication.

They split them into two groups and gave half the treatment and half sham therapy, directed at six positions on the penis, five times over a five-week period. They then assessed the men 5, 12, and 24 weeks after treatment, but after the first stage men in the placebo group were offered the real thing, although they didn’t previously know they were being given a placebo.

Five weeks after treatment, 57 percent of those receiving the shockwaves were able to achieve an erection and have sex without medication, compared to only nine percent in the placebo group. Although this diminished by 24 weeks, positive results were still seen as 19 percent in the active treatment group were still able to have sex without drugs, alongside 23 percent in the group that first received the placebo.

“This study shows a possible cure in some patients, but more research, longer follow-up in the placebo group and an international multi-centre randomized study are needed,” the authors conclude. If such studies continue to be supportive, though, this treatment would certainly be welcomed, especially in light of the growing number of cases of diabetes and heart disease, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.

[H/T: New Scientist]

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