One in two men aged 40-70 will experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, but do not panic as a pharmaceutical treatments are also being developed, with a Greek study from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), published in the Journal of Urology, making its own contribution.
In particular, the solution to the problem can be provided by the non-invasive technique of low intensity shock waves, the Greek study found.
"Our findings demonstrate the extreme effectiveness of low-intensity shock wave therapy and its safety for patients with moderate vascular erectile dysfunction," said Nikolaos Pyrgidis from AUTh.
According to the results of the clinical study, more than two-thirds of the patients who underwent the 6-week treatment showed a clinically significant improvement in the sexual function and satisfaction assessment scale.
The treatment that ensures an erection
Low intensity shock wave therapy has emerged as a promising non-surgical, non-pharmacological treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The urologist follows a specific procedure in which he uses a special catheter to deliver low-intensity shock waves along the length of the penis. The goal is to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), leading to improved blood flow.
70 men with vascular erectile dysfunction, that is related to blood flow, participated in this Greek research. All patients had moderate erectile dysfunction according to a standardised questionnaire, the International Index of Erectile Function.
In addition, they had a partial response to erectile dysfunction drugs, such as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, which were stopped one month before and during the study.
The treated men showed significant improvement on the erectile function scale: from 14 points before treatment, with a peak of 30, they gradually rose to 19 points at 1 month and 20 points at 3 months. In contrast, men who received a sham treatment saw little or no improvement.
The treatment provided a satisfactory prolongation of erection, as at three months 79% of men showed at least a 5-point improvement on the erectile function scale, defined as "minimal clinically significant difference".
Correspondingly, the number of patients who, thanks to the treatment, were able to successfully have sexual intercourse also increased.
However, there is still limited evidence for the effectiveness of low-intensity shock wave therapy, and for which patients it offers the greatest benefit. European guidelines recommend it as first-line treatment for patients with erectile dysfunction related to blood flow.
On the other hand, according to the American Urological Association, the treatment is considered investigational, as it has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Therefore, the present study fills the research gap, demonstrating the effectiveness of the treatment regarding men with moderate erectile dysfunction.
As Pyrgidis pointed out regarding this specific category of people, " it is an ideal unit to delay the progression of erectile dysfunction."