In the US, erectile dysfunction (ED) has an estimated economic cost of over $5 billion. After all, it affects millions of men in the US, and men with ED appear to take more days off from work. They also seem to be less productive at work than their peers who don’t have ED.
Moreover, the prices of popular brand-name ED pills have surged by more than 100% from 2012 to 2017.
Fortunately, there are ED treatments that don’t rely on drugs, including shockwave therapy.
Now, that term may have made you immediately wonder, is shockwave therapy painful? What kind of treatment is it in the first place, and does it even work? How safe is it to use “shockwaves” on the penis, anyway?
We’ll answer all those questions in this guide to shockwave therapy for ED, so please read on.
A Background on Shockwave Therapy
The official term for shockwave therapy for ED is low-intensity shockwave therapy (LiSWT). That’s a mouthful, though, which is why it’s usually referred to as shockwave therapy or LiSWT for short.
LiSWT is one type of extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT). The primary difference is that the former uses lower-intensity waves. ESWT, in turn, has been in use in urology for years since it can fracture kidney stones.
LiSWT is a non-invasive therapy that orthopedists also use to treat musculoskeletal disorders. It has even found application in the field of cardiac disease treatments.
More recently, urologists have started to use shockwave therapy to treat ED.
One reason that LiSWT has many applications is that it appears to encourage blood flow. This improved circulation may then help stimulate tissues and heal injured ones.
Now, keep in mind that adequate blood flow to the penis is necessary for erections. Erectile dysfunction can occur when the blood vessels in the penis don’t work as they should.
Since LiSWT may help stimulate blood flow, then it may help induce erections.
In a nutshell, shockwave therapy for ED may work in the same way as more traditional ED treatments. For example, medications like sildenafil and tadalafil also aim to boost blood flow. Since LiSWT may have the same effects, then it may be one non-medicated option to treat ED.
So, Is Shockwave Therapy Painful?
In two studies on LiSWT, none of the males with ED reported pain throughout the treatment. In addition, the participants did not complain of any adverse events. What’s more, they didn’t experience such side effects even after the treatment.
By contrast, those same studies revealed that patients had improved erectile function. For example, of the 20 participants, 15 experienced improvements just a month after. Then, after six months, 10 of the patients still had spontaneous erections.
Other studies on low-intensity shockwave therapy for ED also yielded encouraging results. Thus, many researchers support its use as a treatment, especially for vasculogenic ED. Moreover, many findings suggest that LiSWT has a good safety record.
In a more extensive LiSWT study of 710 patients, the researchers noted no side effects, either. They also reported that the patients didn’t have any complications during the treatment.
Instead, they found that shockwave therapy resulted in significant improvements in ED symptoms. For instance, they noted that the patients had better quality erections. They also suggest that LiSWT may raise one’s chances of regaining penetration ability.
Does That Mean It’s Painless for Everyone?
Please note that shockwave therapy is still somewhat a new treatment for ED. This is also why the US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it for ED yet. For the same reason, it may not work for all, and it may not be painless for everyone, either.
However, as previous studies have found, most patients didn’t experience complications. Still, there’s a possibility that the following unwanted side effects may occur:
- Bruising of the skin covering the penis
- Blood in the urine
- Uncomfortable or painful erection
As a result of those side effects, you may have some difficulty during sexual intercourse. However, they’re only temporary and should disappear after a short period.
Should You Give Shockwave Therapy a Try?
If you don’t want to take pills, you might want to consider shockwave therapy instead.
Besides, drugs like sildenafil and tadalafil have far more known side effects. These include flushing, headaches, stomach pain, muscle aches, and nausea, to name a few. Moreover, some people may experience hearing issues and abnormal ejaculations with ED pills.
You might also want to give shockwave therapy a try if you’ve tried ED drugs and they didn’t work well. Although effective for most men, erectile dysfunction medications don’t work on every patient.
Another good time to consider LiSWT is if you don’t want to undergo invasive procedures. While surgeries no doubt have good results, they still require undergoing the knife. Shockwave therapy doesn’t use needles, scalpels, or anesthesia; as such, it may be less risky.
Like with any other treatment you’ll try for the first time, please be sure to speak to your doctor first. If you haven’t seen any healthcare provider yet about ED, now’s a good time to visit a urologist. Urologists are doctors specializing in the genitourinary tract, including the penis.
A urologist can advise you about shockwave therapy and other ED treatment options. So, you can speak to the specialist about your interest in undergoing LiSWT. After getting their consent, you can then consider this non-surgical option for ED.
Find Relief From Your ED Symptoms
We hope that our guide has answered your question, is shockwave therapy painful? Now that you know most men treated with it reported no pain, you may feel more inclined to try it yourself. Besides, it has shown potential to help treat ED, so that may be a good enough reason to consider undergoing it, too. If you feel that shockwave therapy may be a good option for you but would like to know more about it, we’re here to help. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more about this treatment.