Five New Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options - Explained By A Doctor
Last updated on : October 18 2021
Dr. Kate Kass is a primary care physician in the state of Washington. She treats a broad range of acute and chronic conditions, specializing in men's and women's hormone health, menopause, bioidentical hormones, sexual health and erectile dysfunction, and regenerative medicine.
Problems With Erectile Dysfunction
Nothing can put a man's confidence down than hearing the words:
"No, dear, I don't feel like it anymore."
In a man's mind, thousands of thoughts cross in a second. But the most dominating thought will be:
"Oh, there's something wrong with me for sure."
But you have tried various methods already, like over-the-counter drugs that enhance sexual performance. That's because you thought your condition wasn't that serious at the start.
Now it's different. Your woman just covertly complained about you, and you do not have it anymore.
It's time to stop taking matters into your own hands and start thinking about reaching for professional help.
With many new methods and quick fixes out there, what novel methods should you look into for a solution?
Here are four methods for erectile dysfunction treatment that are currently undergoing extensive research and attracting attention for possible positive outcomes.
1. Stem Cell Therapy
Every cell has a beginning and an eventual end in your body.
Your red blood cells and white blood cells, for instance, start as stem cells that get later converted into their respective types in your bone marrow.
If tissues are destroyed in your penis and cells need to get rejuvenated, then your stem cells can get injected into your penis to solve this issue - as some researchers claim.
According to a review published in 2021* ED treatment using stem cell therapy has promising outcomes.
The review mentions several studies, one of which discusses the first stem cell clinical study published by a Korean team in 2010.
In this study, a company provided the stem cells instead of being harvested from the patients. The umbilical cord stem cells were injected into seven men aged 57-83 suffering from diabetes-related ED.
The results revealed that the participants regained their erections after one month and maintained them after more than six months.
What's more, the umbilical cord stem cells also had effects on their blood glucose levels. The men witnessed a decrease in their blood glucose after two weeks.
Though the outcomes have been positive, long-term studies need to be done to prove the efficacy of this treatment yet.
*Protogerou V, Chrysikos D, Karampelias V, Spanidis Y, Sara EB, Troupis T. Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Using Stem Cells: A Review. Medicines (Basel). 2021;8(1):2. Published 2021 Jan 6. doi:10.3390/medicines8010002
2. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
There's only one thing worse than stubbing your toe, and that's a paper cut.
After that dreaded paper cut, a rush of heroes come to the rescue to quickly mend your wound. Those heroes are types of cells that go by the name of platelets.
A platelet-rich plasma treatment involves the administration of platelets to fix wounds and grow new blood vessels.
In June 2019, a prospective study* was conducted, including 31 patients suffering from ED.
The International Index of Erectile Function–Erectile Function domain (IIEF-EF) questionnaire was given to the patients to measure specific aspects of erectile performance and assess disease severity.
After administering PRP 3 times with an interval of 15 days, the IIEF-EFs were analyzed and evaluated 1, 3, and 6 months later.
Though the sexual satisfaction scores were higher in post-treatment vs. pre-procedure, a fibrous plaque in the middle of the penile shaft was observed on one patient after the third injection.
Moreover, a literature review done in 2019** to further establish the role of platelet-rich plasma therapy revealed several shortfalls:
- Small study groups
- No long-term follow-ups
- Lack of control groups
- Lack of quality and quantity analysis PRP
Hence, if a doctor recommends this current treatment available in the market, it's essential to proceed with caution since it's still in the experimental phase.
*Tuncay Taş, Basri Çakıroğlu, Ersan Arda, Özkan Onuk, Barış Nuhoğlu, Early Clinical Results of the Tolerability, Safety, and Efficacy of Autologous Platelet-Rich Plasma Administration in Erectile Dysfunction, Sexual Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 2,2021,100313, ISSN 2050-1161,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2020.100313.
**Epifanova MV, Gvasalia BR, Durashov MA, Artemenko SA. Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for Male Sexual Dysfunction: Myth or Reality? Sex Med Rev. 2020 Jan;8(1):106-113. DOI: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.02.002. Epub 2019 Mar 19. PMID: 30898594.
3. Penile Prosthesis Surgery
If you've watched the Terminator, you'll know that we're only a few years away from 2029, aka the year cyborgs will reign supreme.
It might seem like an impossible prediction for some people, but current advancements in prosthetics say otherwise.
After all, scientists have been researching the efficacy of penile prostheses for over 40 years.
A recent paper* published in 2016, for example, mentions the International Consultation on Sexual Medicine, where worldwide experts in sexual health assembled to discuss current literature surrounding penile prosthesis.
They performed a systematic review and covered important topics such as the history of penile prosthesis, indications, preoperative evaluation, patient-partner satisfaction, and postoperative complications.
Though the experts couldn't issue a final guideline, they agreed that penile prostheses could be advised in the most severe cases of erectile dysfunction.
If treatment using PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors), vacuum erection devices, and intracorporeal injection therapy doesn't work, a professional can guide the patient to more invasive procedures.
Nevertheless, the issue of consent is of high importance, and a doctor should never coerce a patient into getting treatment without knowing the risks.
Hence, medical professionals should take it under their responsibility to explain the mechanical failure, infection, shortening of penis size, and sensation changes to enlighten the patient about these potential risks.
Ultimately, experts say penile prosthesis via inflatable devices can be a viable treatment for those men whose penises don't respond to more minor invasive procedures.
These devices don't seem to interfere with urination, ejaculation, sensation, or orgasm. So sexual activity can usually occur.
Although mechanical failure can happen, design modifications to the current devices have increased their reliability.
Infection remains a feared complication, but it's less common since introducing antibiotics and hydrophilic coatings. Overall, patient and partner satisfaction appears to be relatively high after penile prosthetic surgery.
*Levine LA, Becher EF, Bella AJ, Brant WO, Kohler TS, Martinez-Salamanca JI, Trost L, Morey AF. Penile Prosthesis Surgery: Current Recommendations From the International Consultation on Sexual Medicine. J Sex Med. 2016 Apr;13(4):489-518. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.01.017. Epub 2016 Mar 25. Erratum in: J Sex Med. 2016 Jul;13(7):1145. PMID: 27045255.
4. Shockwave Therapy
Don't let its name deter you. This type of treatment doesn't involve shocking your pecker.
You won't get electrocuted.
Your penis will receive low-intensity sound waves that will pass through erectile tissue. This procedure is done to get the blood flow running and result in cell renewal.
The procedure is non-invasive and pain-free, so you don't have to bite your nails excessively while in the doctor's office.
Additionally, the waiting time for your rooster to rise during sexy time is short, so you don't have to worry about nighttime performance issues.
Doctors encourage you to engage in sexual activities soon to get the blood moving faster.
Moreover, some studies point to the use of low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (LI-ESWT) as an alternative treatment for erectile dysfunction.
A study in 2013* shows that oral medications like PDE5D have short-term effects on penile performance. In other words, they don't treat the underlying condition causing ED.
That's why medical professionals are trying to find ways to cure and rehabilitate the penile tissue to induce spontaneous sexual activity with regular intimacy and without adverse effects.
While this is an unmet goal, a double-blind, randomized control trial mentioned in this same study confirms that LI-ESWT generates a significant clinical improvement of erectile function and a significant improvement in penile hemodynamics without any adverse effects.
As with any experiment, there's a need for more double-blind, randomized, controlled trials along with long-term follow-up studies to confirm these findings.
Other factors that require more in-depth clarification include:
- Investigating the effect of LI-ESWT on the various types of ED like diabetes-induced ED or Peyronie's disease.
- The clinical parameters that can predict those who would benefit from LI-ESWT and who would not still require clear clarification, definition, and validation.
- Determining treatment protocols of LI-ESWT to know the exact number of treatments, the frequency of administration, and the number of penile site exposures.
Furthermore, other studies are essential for determining the optimal treatment protocol to provide the best clinical outcome. Basic research regarding the mechanism of action of LI-ESWT is unquestionably needed to explore potential solutions further.
In the end, shockwave therapy, like plasma treatment, is available on the market and is typically advised for erectile dysfunction caused by vascular diseases.
* Citation: Gruenwald I, Appel B, Kitrey ND, Vardi Y. Shockwave treatment of erectile dysfunction. Ther Adv Urol. 2013;5(2):95-99. doi:10.1177/1756287212470696
5. Gene Therapy
With current researchers looking more into genetics to solve diseases, gene therapy has even penetrated the field of andrology ( the study of male health).
Gene therapy to treat ED involves the administration of a viral or non-viral entity that delivers the genes to penile tissue through cell-mediated approaches. This way, doctors can directly target the source of ED instead of providing short-term solutions which are bound to end at some point.
A review in 2018* discusses the potential of gene therapy as a viable treatment for ED. Though animal models have shown positive outcomes, there seem to be safety concerns regarding human clinical trials.
After all, tempering with genes is no joke and can result in significant mishaps if not handled correctly. Also, the issue of religion comes into question since many people can be against such practices that modify a human opposed to God's plan.
*Yu B, Wu C, Li T, Qin F, Yuan J. Advances in Gene Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction: Promises and Challenges. Curr Gene Ther. 2018;18(6):351-365. doi: 10.2174/1566523218666181004145424. PMID: 30289066.
As noted above, these are just five therapies that are being actively tried and tested. Make sure to visit a physician as soon as you spot some issues to minimize their impact on your sexual life.
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