Does Shockwave Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction Work?

Using shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is among one of the newer and less invasive ways to treat this common sexual challenge. Also known as penile extracorporeal low-intensity shockwave therapy, this method involves the use of lower intensity acoustic pulse waves that focus on and break up micro plaque in the penis, which in turn improves blood flow. The waves also induce the release of nitric oxide, another process that boosts blood circulation, as well as stimulates the formation of new blood vessels (neovascularization).

Some scientific studies have suggested that shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction may be more effective than oral medications (e.g., Viagra, Cialis), penis pumps, and other techniques.

In a recent (2017) review published in Urology, the authors evaluated data from 9 studies that involved 637 patients. They reported that low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy significantly improved both International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and the Erection Hardness Score (EHS). In addition, each treatment could last at least three months.

In an earlier study, the authors noted that shockwave therapy was effective in men who responded to phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE5i; e.g., Viagra) and could also convert men who did not respond to PDE5is to become responders. A subsequent trial explored the use of shockwave therapy in men who failed to respond to PDE5is. The 52 men received 3,000 shockwaves once a week for 12 weeks while also continuing use of PDE5is. At the one-month follow-up, 35 of the 52 men (67.3%) were able to achieve an erection suitable for intercourse. At three months, 33 of the 35 (94.3%) could still maintain an erection.