Unfortunately, many men are reluctant to report erectile dysfunction (ED) to their doctor due to social stigmas associated with sexual performance. ED is much more common than the general population may realize. A John Hopkins study revealed that over 18 million men in the U.S. over the age of 20 experience difficulties having and maintaining an erection. In response, a number of options to improve sexual performance have been developed, with varying efficacy and side effects.
The causes of erectile dysfunction range from unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking and obesity to age-related decline and more complicated psychological and physiological problems. Because of this, consulting with a physician before embarking on a treatment plan for ED is essential. With that in mind, knowing what the potential options when you go into a visit can help you identify the best plan for your needs.
Pharmacological treatments for ED include pills, penile injections, or urethral suppositories.
Some men either don’t want to take medications or aren’t able to; in these cases, a vacuum pump treatment may be recommended. Vacuum pumps are made of a plastic cylinder that’s placed over the penis – the air is then pumped out of the device, forcing blood into the penis. It is held in place by a ring at its base, thereby creating and maintaining an erection. Possible drawbacks include weak ejaculation, numbness, bruising, and the ring can only be worn for up to 30 minutes. Pumps aren’t necessarily intended as a long-term solution, but rather a method of re-enabling natural erections over time.
Surgical treatments for ED fall into two categories: implants and vascular reconstruction. Vascular reconstruction surgery involves repairing blocked blood vessels in the penis and is mostly reserved for men with small blockages.
Shockwave treatment, officially known as Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (LI-ESWT), addresses the causes of sexual dysfunction in many cases, rather than simply masking the symptoms. Shock waves have long been known to be effective at regenerating cardiac blood vessels through a process called revascularization. This type of therapy has been in use for many years in Europe as an intervention for ED and poor sexual performance.
Erectile dysfunction TreatmentGAINSWave has been spearheading shockwave therapy in the United States – and thus far, the results have been exceptional. A 2013 study presented by Therapeutic Advances in Urology concluded that the Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (LI-ESWT) created “a significant clinical improvement of erectile function … without any adverse effects.”
GAINSWave treatments are quick and non-invasive. Therapy typically includes between 6-12 in-office visits lasting 20 to 30 minutes each. Patients may immediately resume daily activities and 75% of men experience positive results post-treatment, though the results vary based on an individual’s medical condition and age, and may take a few months to accrue.
Of course, a medical evaluation is always recommended before determining the best intervention for any individual