Erectile Dysfunction

Stephanie Clovinson A.R.N.P. at Active Lifestyle Medical VA in Sterling, Virginia, help men who suffer from erectile dysfunction due to physical, psychological, or emotional reasons. Many of which are seeking a natural, ED solution with long-term results. 

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Men over the age of 40 typically experience ED as the result of inadequate blood flow to the penis, most often due to the narrowing of blood vessels.

What causes Erectile Dysfunction?

There are many causes of impotence both medical and psychological. Often, age is a predominant factor in erectile dysfunction; however, your chronological age is not solely responsible for ED’s development.

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Officially called low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT), the procedure is more commonly known as shockwave therapy. Treatment consists of noninvasive low-intensity sound waves that pass through erectile tissue, restoring natural erectile function by clearing plaque out of blood vessels and encouraging the growth of new blood vessels. The shockwave treatment offers a cure in that it reverses the problems that cause the dysfunction in the first place — the most desired win-win outcome coveted by men with ED.

The pulsating waves

These waves can trigger a healing response that “wakes-up” dormant stem cells and growth factors in the penis for an overall rejuvenation of male erectile tissue. With this alternative ED treatment, there are no expensive prescriptions to remember to take or refill, and no penile implants or surgery. There are none of the harmful side effects with this ED treatment as with oral drugs.

What Can Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Smoking causes damage to the vessels through oxidative stress. – another risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Quitting smoking has shown to relieve much of the ED risks.

A German study found that 69% of men involved in a sleep apnea study also suffered from ED. Disruptions to breathing during sleep affect oxygen levels in the blood, which can cause problems generating an erection. Lack of sleep also disrupts hormone production.

The production of testosterone and other hormones naturally decreases with age. Toxicity of the body can also disrupt how hormones operate in the body.

Stress, both in and out of the bedroom, can make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection. Depression, anxiety, and the medications to treat them may also contribute to impotence.

Met Syndrome is a combination of maladies that can cause ED. The five hallmarks of Met Syndrome are: hypertension, elevated fasting glucose levels, elevated triglycerides, central obesity, and reduced high density lipoprotein levels of cholesterol. Met Syndrome causes inflammation and hormonal imbalances that can lead to ED.

Engaging in an active lifestyle can help with weight, stress, anxiety, and depression – all of which help with other conditions and decrease the risk of developing ED. Being overweight can cause cardiovascular problems that are known to contribute to Erectile Dysfunction.

30-50% of hypertensive men also suffer from ED. Hypertension can disrupt erectile tissue function. In addition, some prescriptions for the condition can cause ED. However, there’s evidence that suggests that once adequate blood pressure control is regained – even for those on medication – ED becomes less likely.

35-90% of diabetic men also experience ED. Hyperglycemia can have a negative impact on several aspects of erectile function. Complications and changes associated with diabetes can compromise macrovascular and microvascular structures, the nervous system, and blood vessel linings. 

More than two drinks a day is considered a risk factor for ED. Alcohol can lower testosterone, decrease blood to the penis, and cause nerve and hormonal imbalances. Low testosterone can also affect your libido and performance, potentially leading to further psychological ED complications.

The most common cause of ED is a lack of flowing blood to erectile tissue. Plaque and damaged vessels can restrict circulation enough to disrupt function. Typically, symptoms begin with difficulty maintaining an erection before advancing to a complete inability to obtain one.

How Much Treatment Is Needed?

Typically 12 treatments 2/week for 6 weeks. Maximum benefits are seen 6 weeks after last treatment.

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Robust Basic Science Evidence

There exists robust basic science evidence… supporting the ability of shockwave therapy and stem cell therapy to improve erectile function; however, to date, there is an absence of clinical trial data supporting their efficacy and long-term safety in humans.”

Dr. Goldstein explained the motivation for researchers to find a safe and appropriate alternative to pill therapy. “Through shockwave therapy, we are introducing a new paradigm of ED treatment that appears effective in changing the health of the penile tissue.”

“Pills do not work for everyone, and they’re incredibly expensive. They [interfere] with certain health conditions and many men discontinue their use for different reasons. But most importantly, they’re temporary, and they do not change the underlying pathophysiology of the condition.”

- Dr. Goldstein

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Pills Aren’t the Long-Term Solution to Increase Blood Flow to the Penis.

Young men may find short-term satisfaction popping a little blue pill for enhanced erections, but these drugs can become harmful when used recreationally. Men risk becoming psychologically addicted and unable to perform without them. In fact, men who rely on ED drugs for sexual enhancement without an actual medical condition, may become less confident in their ability to achieve a regular erection with their partner.

Irwin Goldstein, MD, board-certified urologist, director of sexual medicine at  Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and the director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, is a trailblazer in the field of men’s sexuality. He explained that Viagra, the ubiquitous blue pills that serve as the current treatment for ED, aren’t a panacea.

Current nonsurgical ED treatment options include PDE-5 inhibitors (PDE5-i), such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra); vacuum erection devices; intracavernosal injections (P-shots); intraurethral suppositories; and penile implants,” said Dr. Ramasamy.

If you’re looking to improve erection quality and increase blood flow, you may want to consider a more long-term natural solution.