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Shockwave therapy is one of the many treatment options for erectile dysfunction (ED). Though it isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the science behind this pill-free treatment has been supported by several studies that have turned up encouraging results.

The best therapy for vasculogenic ED is Shockwave therapy, which is a therapy that causes the blood vessels in the penis to become dilated. The therapy is not perfect with other causes of ED.

The term low intensity shockwave therapy is used in the clinical setting. It is a therapy that has been used in the past to help heal broken bones, injured ligaments, and injured tendons.

LiSWT has been used to improve wound healing. LiSWT uses sound waves to speed up tissue repair.

The penile tissue is dependent on healthy blood flow. It is seen as a way of repairing and strengthening blood vessels in the penis.

Increasing blood flow to the penis is the same goal as more traditional ED treatments, such as oral medications, including sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

The device that is used for the therapy is placed near the penis. A healthcare professional will move the device along your penis for 15 minutes. No anesthesia is needed.

The blood flow and tissue remodeling in the penis improved after the pulse. The changes can lead to erections that are sufficient for sex.

There is no established recommendation for treatment period or Frequency.

However, a 2019 review and meta-analysis of clinical trials found that the most common treatment plan was twice weekly for 3 weeks, followed by 3 weeks without treatments, and another 3 weeks of twice-weekly treatments.

The effects of shockwave therapy lasted a year.

As with other types of off-label medical devices, it’s not yet clear who best qualifies for shockwave therapy. In theory, anyone experiencing chronic ED could be a candidate, though current research states it may work best for vasculogenic ED.

However, studies on this end are mixed. A 2021 narrative review found that while some studies show that LiSWT is more effective in cases of mild ED when used with a combination of other treatments, others revealed the opposite, where shockwave therapy worked best in moderate to severe ED.

“If you haven’t had success with other therapies, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your situation.”

The review and meta-analysis found that the effects of shockwave therapy on sexual function were significant. Men with vasculogenic ED had the best results.

A 2010 pilot study found that among 20 men with vasculogenic ED, all experienced improved erectile function after 6 months of shockwave treatment. Follow-up with the men found no adverse effects.

The FDA has not approved shockwave therapy as a treatment for ED despite encouraging research. Outside of a research setting, some doctors still offer shockwave therapy for ED.

FDA approvals for new treatments are accompanied by guidelines for doctors to follow and side effects to be shared with patients.

“If you choose to do shockwave therapy for ED, you may be spending money on a treatment that doesn’t live up to its promises, or there may be risks that aren’t properly explained.”

“Treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA aren’t covered by insurance.”

“There isn’t enough robust clinical trial data to support the widespread use of shockwave therapy according to a statement from the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. The SMSNA recommends that only research protocols are used for shockwave therapy.”

Most men find it painless when they receive shockwave therapy. There are few, if any, side effects found in available research.

“That doesn’t mean the procedure is safe. It is still a relatively new therapy and more research is needed to determine the long-term effects.”

ED episodes are not unusual. Stress, lack of sleep, alcohol use, and temporary hormonal changes can make it difficult to maintain an erection. If ED becomes more frequent, you should see your doctor.

“If you are interested in shockwave therapy, you should know that it is still experimental. Some doctors don’t want to use it until they know more about its safety and effectiveness.”

“If you don’t want to have a procedure that’s intrusive, but still want a pill-free treatment, talk to your urologist about the possibility of using a therapy called shockwave therapy.”

Your doctor may recommend that you try a more common treatment first. Treatments for ED are common.

  • Medications. These include sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).
  • Lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking, changing your diet, and getting enough exercise may help combat ED.
  • Counseling. If psychological issues, such as anxiety, stress, or relationship problems, are causing ED, talking with a therapist or counselor may help.
  • Treating underlying health conditions. Health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can contribute to ED.

Since shockwave therapy is considered an off-label, non-FDA-approved ED treatment, medical insurance likely won’t cover this procedure. The exact costs may vary by provider and location, with an average of $450 per session.

If a doctor recommends a twice-weekly regimen for 3 weeks at a time, the costs could be as high as $2,700.

You may be able to work with your provider to help reduce the cost of your treatment. There are possible options, including discounted bundle rates or monthly payment plans.

How can I schedule a shockwave therapy visit?

If you’re interested in scheduling a shockwave therapy visit, consider meeting with a urologist who performs the procedure, asking your primary doctor for a referral, or looking for a reputable specialist in your area via the American Urological Association. Be wary of any unlicensed clinician that offers “discounted” sessions or any other clinics that may lack the proper credentials.

Does shockwave therapy hurt?

While ED shockwave therapy is reportedly risk-free, there isn’t enough clinical research in this area to determine this to be the case. Studies do show that shockwave therapy may be painless for other uses, and may even be a noninvasive method to help reduce pain after surgery.

What is the success rate for shockwave therapy for ED?

While the exact success rate is unknown, 2016 research involving 50 people who received LiSWT estimated that up to 60 percent of participants experienced benefits that lasted up to 12 months. Keep in mind that shockwave therapy isn’t yet approved for ED treatment and more studies need to be done to understand its full potential efficacy.

The desire for a treatment that works consistently and over a long period is fueling research around the world.

“In treating some medical conditions, shockwave therapy has been effective. It isn’t currently approved by the FDA for ED, but some doctors use it.”

If you are interested in getting shockwave therapy, you should talk to a doctor. They can help you decide if this is an option for you and possibly direct you to a provider that is trustworthy.