There’s a new procedure for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) in America called GAINSWave. It helps create erections by sound wave sent through a man’s penis in an attempt to break up any plaque blockages in the blood vessels that create erections. Its creators also say that it “activates the growth of nerve tissue” for greater sensitivity, but initial studies on GAINSWave’s website only back up the former claim and not the latter.
GAINSWave is referred to as a Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (LI-ESWT), a fancy term that means a gentle form of outer-body therapy that uses quick-traveling sound waves. And while it’s new to the U.S., the practice of assisting erections by soundwave has actually been used in Israel as early as 2014.
Here’s how it works: Patients, who are advised to schedule six to twelve 20-minute sessions, have a numbing cream applied to their penises. Then, the technician holds a large wand against the penis to administer the sound waves.
Here’s a video promoting GAINSWave therapy:
Dr. Kate Kass, a Washington-based physician who uses GAINSWave, says some men “experience a pins-and-needles-like sensation” in the otherwise painless procedure. The effects are said to last up to two years and can be helpful for men who don’t respond to ED medications like Viagra and Cialis.
An inability to get an erection can indicate “underlying conditions like heart disease, blocked blood vessels, high cholesterol or high blood pressure,” according to Tobias Köhler, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and residency program director of the urology division at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine. However, for young guys it can also be the result of performance anxiety.
Although the clinical research on the GAINSWave website shows positive outcomes for improving erections in men who have erectile dysfunction issues, none of it shows that the procedure helps men grow new nerve tissue, probably because such studies would require researchers to either use sensitive 3-D imaging to detect changes in nerve pathways or to surgically dissect men’s penises before and after the procedure, both of which are costly.
Nevertheless, a 2013 urology study says that shockwave treatments have been found to help stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, and parts of the body rich in blood vessels (like our palms and soles of the feet) often have a large number of nerve endings. have the most vascularity is sometimes tied to increased sensitivity.
Regardless, the research shows that GAINSWave therapy can also help treat Peyronie’s disease, a condition in which fibrous scar tissue and plaque build up inside the penis causes curved, painful erections.