`Shock therapy may improve erectile dysfunction`

Washington: Good news for those suffering from sever sexual impotence -- scientists have developed a new shock wave therapy which they say could significantly benefit
people who don`t respond well to conventional therapies.

A team at Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa who carried out the "extracorporeal shock wave therapy" on 29 men with sever erectile dysfunction (ED) found that the technique significantly improved their sexual function.

The patients in the study continued to see improvements two months after the treatment had stopped, and close to 30 per cent of them achieved normal sexual function and no longer required medications, LiveScience reported.

Extracorporeal shock waves have been used to break up kidney stones, but the sound waves used in the study to treat ED were much less intense and no men reported pain or adverse events during the treatment, the researchers said.

The results, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggest that sound wave therapy may used to treat ED patients who don`t respond well to conventional therapies, they said.

However, the researchers said, the study was small and the results could have been a placebo effect, so more work is needed to validate the findings.

In the study, the participants, aged over 60, underwent 12 shock treatments over nine weeks. One month after the last treatment, participants began taking ED drugs.

Two months after the treatments concluded, the ED scores improved in 75 per cent of the men in the study. Eight men, nearly 30 per cent, had erections in the normal range when
they used an ED pill. Blood flow improved in all the men.

"For many men, this means the difference between being able and being unable to achieve vaginal penetration," said study researcher Ilan Gruenwald, an associate director of the neuro-urology unit at the Medical Center.

However, other experts have expressed doubts over the success of the the therapy.

The results of the study are somewhat counterintuitive, considering that sound waves used in kidney stone treatments are designed to be destructive, said Dr Andrew Kramer, a
urologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

"It`s like saying, take your penis and hit it with a hammer a couple of times," Kramer said.

Even if the benefits of extracorporeal shock wave therapy are confirmed by future research, the therapy may never be mainstream, Kramer said. For one reason, it requires a special machine.

The researchers acknowledged their work is preliminary, but, given their results, they said they hope others in their field remain open-minded about the therapy.


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