Is Shockwave Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction A Scam: What’s With All The Bad Experiences?
Updated: Feb 21
What’s up, everyone? It’s Rich! Today I want to debunk the reasons why some people still think that shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is a scam, and reasons why it didn’t work for them as opposed to the larger population of men who did see a benefit.
You may or may not have read these “cases'' when Googling shockwave therapy for ED or clicking into other blogs, YouTube videos/comments or an erectile dysfunction forum. But, when you read some of these complaints, almost every single one of them doesn't have any valid reasons as to why it’s a scam or why it didn’t work for them.
I’ve tried shockwave therapy and it took me years to become fully aware of my body and my specific type of ED. Shockwave therapy worked for me because I had a vasculogenic issue. If you read any study on the topic, it shows efficacy for treating vasculogenic ED only.
It's not a "catch all" treatment (e.g, psychological ED requires a DIFFERENT strategy, hormonal issues will require another strategy, etc.)
But, because of a lack of education and understanding of what shockwave therapy is supposed to do, men who are misinformed will continue to claim that “it doesn’t work”. Now, If it didn’t work, then why does shockwave therapy continue to work for a lot of other men?
Think about it.... If it’s a scam or if it didn’t work, then why are there SO many guys going back for this type of treatment or owning their very own at-home shockwave device? This is not a new treatment.
Shockwave therapy for ED has been offered as an off label treatment option FOR YEARS!
Since the majority of Shockwave therapy stories online show promising results that back up the research/studies that have been done on this topic, we need to explore these bad “shockwave” experiences and see why they were bad experiences, to begin with.
The Number One Reason Why Shockwave Therapy Doesn’t Work for Some Men With Erectile Dysfunction
Now, I’m just speculating this…But, I’ve found that in my ED journey and research in the past decade on shockwave therapy that the number one reason why shockwave therapy doesn’t work for some men is that they had set a very high expectation beyond the results of what was studied/researched on this type of therapy.
I’ve talked to men during this time who thought this was a “catch all'' treatment and that all they had to do was just a quick 6-12 sessions to be fully “cured”, forever… Sounds simple, right? No, because these guys might have other underlying health issues, they live a poor lifestyle, or other mental obstacles preventing them from seeing the improvements they’re looking for.
Shockwave treatment for men is supposed to be a long lasting treatment, not a permanent one.
I’ve also talked to men who expected to get “automatic erections” from this type of therapy while others thought this was going to fix their marriages or relationships. I’m sorry, but 1) that is not how erections work, and 2) if you have problems in your marriage, shockwave therapy is not going to fix your relationship issues for you.
It might help re-spark the "fire" in the bedroom. BUT, if you two are having other marital or relationship issues such as, poor communication, expression, issues with the type of sex you guys are having, etc., then you’re going to be very disappointed with the end result, if you think that shockwave therapy is supposed to “solve” all of that for you.
Unfortunately, these unrealistic expectations, a lack of education on this type of treatment therapy, and a misunderstanding of how erections actually work, continue to lead to poorly explained “bad” shockwave therapy stories, anecdotes, and experiences floating around the internet.
It’s no wonder why some men are confused about this type of treatment and there is a lot of noise about whether or not shockwave therapy is worth it, especially for those who haven’t tried it, yet.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic because I’m sick and tired of explaining what shockwave therapy is, who is it for, who is a bad candidate, and what the research actually states in terms of results. For this reason, I’m going to further explain everything below to clear up any confusion and call out the men who claim shockwave therapy is a “scam”.
The Studies Behind Shockwave Therapy Point Out That It Helps Vasculogenic ED…Not Every Type Of ED!
We are now in the year 2023, and there have been a few decades of research on this topic pointing to its efficacy on treating vasculogenic ED. With vasculogenic ED being the most common type of ED that men face with age, people are still viewing this treatment as a magic fix that will cover all of the other types of ED. This is one of the biggest misconceptions I’ve found, which stems from not being educated correctly about what this type of therapy treats.
Vasculogenic ED has to do with poor blood flow, weak blood vessels, nerve sensitivity issues, and the overall mechanical function of the penis. This type of ED is very common because the body depreciates every day and as result, we face a downward slope/decline in erection quality as we age.
Men with this type of ED see an even worse decline in their erections if they have a health condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions that contribute to this “lack of blood flow” or blockages in the penis.
The other types of ED men should be aware about are:
Psychogenic ED (mental ED - stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues etc.)
Hormonal ED (Testosterone, hypogonadism, thyroid issues, and other hormone irregularities)
Pharmacological ED (Your current prescription medications may have side effects that causes sexual dysfunction, ie. SSRIs, beta blockers, blood pressure meds, etc.)
Neurogenic ED/neurological ED (disorder of the nerves and spinal cord)
Other causes of ED (Pelvic floor tightness or weakness, drinking too much alcohol, COVID-19 as there is conflicting research on problems with erections, etc.)
Shockwave therapy unfortunately can’t “catch” all of these types of ED. This is why I constantly repeat (ad nauseum) that you have to tackle ED from all angles and to be more aware of the different types of ED, so that you can try to hone in on the root causes of your own specific case of ED.
Does Shockwave Therapy Actually Work for Men With Erectile Dysfunction or Is It a Scam?
Shockwave therapy is a potential regenerative treatment option. It was first used to help break down kidney stones in the 80s. But, because Urologists saw that it can also increase blood flow to that area through a process called neoangiogenesis (angiogenesis, neovascularization, etc.) they saw a benefit in using it as a potential treatment to help men with vasculogenic ED.
So, at a much lower intensity that is safer for soft tissue, they experimented with this treatment on penises. A few decades later and here we are.
Men’s health clinics have opened up since 2010 specializing in male performance and optimization while using a variety of shockwave devices on the market (both focus and radial showing they both work).
As mentioned earlier, men seem to be continuing treatment or getting retreatment at various clinics around the U.S backing the claims as to whether or not it works.
I’ve personally gone to a men's health clinic in New York for both treatment and maintenance as well as used The Phoenix for at-home treatment.
But, I will say this. Shockwave treatment at a clinic or with The Phoenix is not for everyone. Let’s explore this further.
List of Reasons Why Shockwave Therapy Does Not Work for Some Men
I’m going to make a really long list on this because the people who are giving shockwave therapy a bad name should be questioned.
If it didn’t work for you, then explain why? Why didn’t it work for you? I often find that when someone says “it's a scam” or that “it doesn’t work”, they don't explain why. Or when you do ask them to explain, it becomes an “aha” moment when they start to list other variables not related to vasculogenic ED that led them to have a poor experience in the first place.
And I’m not intentionally picking on any of you who have had a bad shockwave therapy experience or to add to your frustration on what is going on with you and your erections. But the point is to help you so that if your ED is not because of a vasculogenic issue or you have multiple types of ED, we can try to help point you in the right direction!
But, more often than not, the men who complained that shockwave therapy did not work for them or they thought that shockwave therapy was a scam because of these reasons…
1. Setting Unrealistic Expectations About Results
As mentioned in the beginning… The number one reason is setting a high expectation or an unrealistic one about what Shockwave therapy would do for them. This to me indicates a lack of education on the topic. The research only suggests that it can help guys become more responsive to first-line treatment options for ED like PED5i’s and trimix while for others with milder cases, it may help them wane off of medication. Again, this type of regenerative treatment can potentially treat vasculogenic ED only.
2. They Think It'll Be A Light Switch For Their Erections
A good example of the first point above would be a guy thinking that shockwave therapy will give them an “automatic boner”. These men view their own erections as a “light switch'' and that if they don’t get an erection on demand, then they “think” something is wrong with them. Some men create this unrealistic expectation about how shockwave therapy will give them that “automatic boner”. But, when they realize that their improvement does not meet their expectations, they provide misinformed anecdotes to the masses causing confusion, especially to guys who have not tried shockwave therapy, yet.
3. Misunderstanding How Erections Work
To add on to that, some men don’t understand how an erection happens in the first place! Erections start in the brain! We have 3 types of erections, reflexive, psychogenic, and nocturnal. Erections are a process, not a flip of the switch, guys!
4. Cures Vs. Treats ED - Mentality
Guys who think that there are “cures” to ED. I hate to break it to you guys, but the word “cure” implies that it will never come back. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when dealing with ED because there are multiple types of it and different causes.
You can only treat and manage ED. Why? Because you can unintentionally give yourself any of the other types of ED we mentioned earlier. Whether it’s now or later in life, ED can always come back if you don’t manage it or you’re not aware of your own body to recognize the signs and symptoms of each type of ED (especially, psychogenic ED!).
5. A Pill Does Not Fix Everything
Which brings me to my next point…Men with a mentality that they can take a pill to fix “anything” and everything approach. The same can be said with Shockwave therapy. Some men think they only have to do one treatment session or one cycle of treatments and then they’re magically “fixed” forever. No, you can only maintain results as studies suggest that results may last up to 2 years. So, yes, you still have to re-treat in the future for maintenance and preventative care. It’s not that hard to do, but for some men, they’re lazy and think that’s too much or they just want to cut corners and take a pill as an “easy way out”.
6. Not Understanding Shockwave Therapy
Men not listening when their doctor is explaining what shockwave therapy does or them not doing their own research/homework on the topic! You can easily tell on erectile dysfunction forums or blog posts, “who” did not do their research and who was not paying attention to their doctor. I’ve talked to many different guys who thought acoustic wave therapy and shockwave therapy were two different things, or that shockwave therapy “shocks” your penis. If you actually READ any study on the NCBI, PubMed, or any medical journal, you would read that the machines/devices emit acoustic sound waves. There is no “shocking”, or “electrocution" from this type of therapy.
7. Too Many Existing Health Conditions
Guys with an existing health condition like diabetes (and there are other conditions, too!) that is not managed. When you’re dealing with a health condition or multiple health issues, it is going to be hard to actually see results with shockwave therapy because these health conditions and diseases cause ED in the first place.
8. Other Types of ED (Not Vasculogenic)
Guys who have other types of ED, and their ED is not exactly all “vasculogenic”. An example would be a man in his 20’s who thought shockwave therapy would “cure” his performance anxiety or poor masturbation/porn habit and only saw minimal results. I’ve read tons of forum posts and articles on these types of men and the only thing I have to say is…newsflash, shockwave therapy can NOT cure your performance anxiety.
And of course, you’re not going to be aware or mindful of the results of shockwave therapy when you’re too busy psyching yourself out before, during, and after sex. If you’re having trouble expressing yourself sexually and have some internal issues about your sexual performance, have unrealistic “sexpectations” and have existing fears causing you to have erection issues with your current partner(s), then you’re not going to get hard. This requires other strategies to treat the root causes for performance anxiety issues.
9. Neurogenic ED Not Related to the Penis
Another example would be a guy with neurogenic ED who has an incomplete or complete spinal cord injury where certain nerves and pathways in the lower back/spine responsible for sending signals to produce an erection are cut off. Shockwave therapy is only performed on the penis and perineum areas…not the spine.
10. Refusing Healthy & Active Lifestyles
Guys who are not living an active and healthy lifestyle. This is an add-on to the guys who think shockwave therapy will be all they need to do to treat erectile dysfunction or that they can just take a pill or do one treatment and expect to be “fixed”.
I say this constantly throughout my blogs that YOU are responsible for the aftercare and your own health. Not anyone else. If you don’t exercise, diet right, get consistent quality sleep, etc. (to name a few), then how do you expect to get the most out of your shockwave therapy “experience”. Use common sense, guys. It’s really not that hard to think bigger about optimizing all aspects of your life, starting with your lifestyle choices.
It’s funny that this is still a big question today when there has been research on the topic and men have been going to men’s health clinics around the world (not just the U.S) for years getting this type of treatment done.
It was only until recently in the past 3 years, that I decided to share my experience with all of you and what I’ve learned about erectile dysfunction, the different causes, and what men can learn about finding their specific root cause of their ED.
Here’s Why Shockwave Therapy Works for Men With ED
The Research is pretty concrete on showing it does work for men with ED. But, unfortunately, it’s not yet approved by the FDA as a regular treatment option. But why?
Since 2005, researchers have been running clinical trials for shockwave therapy on men with sexual health issues like erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease, CPPS, and other related issues.
A good amount of studies on shockwave therapy were held from 2010-2016 with the majority being on focus shockwaves and a handful of specific devices at that time in two meta-analyses. There are also studies on radial shockwave therapy that show results of improved erectile function, but more research and studies is needed.
The reason why these studies are not enough for the FDA is because each study used different research designs and different protocols such as, how many treatments were given, different devices with different energy signatures, different treatment areas, and different follow ups with the patients.
The grand majority of studies all showed results of improved erections, especially in men in the "mild", “mild to moderate ED” and "moderate" categories based on improvements of IIEF scores (International Index Of Erectile Function) and other methods to determine success.
At the same time, they all concluded that a more uniform approach when doing studies on this type of treatment is suggested so that the FDA can consider this as regular treatment option in the future. As of 2021 it was recently approved/added as a regular treatment option in Europe so long as counseling is provided and that patients are screened beforehand to determine if they are a candidate.
With that being said, COVID-19 may have shut down businesses and research on this in the past 2 years, but I have high hopes that within the next 5-10 years we will have more studies on this that will answer some/most of the questions from the earlier studies on shockwave treatment for men.
For those of you who believe the 2010-2016 era is the “end all” discussion on shockwave therapy, then you’re clearly ignoring the questions asked in the conclusion section of each study, which calls for more research on the different devices, how many treatments are optimal for every category of ED, the energy signatures used, translation of research from other countries, etc.
You would understand my argument/position from my recent post on "not all shockwaves are created equal, radial versus focus shockwave therapy for ED"
This is why I believe in continuous research, which there are some studies going on now, with newer/other machines that use Li-ESWT technology.
What About At-Home Devices That Use Li-ESWT Technology? Are They Legit or a Scam?
If you take a look at my post on the comparison of at-home shockwave devices, you would know the differences between a legitimate shockwave device for at-home use versus a listing on a 3rd party website like Amazon who sells a fake device or does not provide the shockwave setting/specifications like it claims in the description of its listing. This is what drop shippers do and these listings on Amazon are examples of what drop shipping is that everyone should be aware about.
On the other hand, the only at-home device on the market right now is The Phoenix and it is Urologist/Doctor supported, and has a protocol designed for treating the penis.
If you’re curious on what to expect with The Phoenix, you can easily visit their site and contact them to find out more. They also have approximately 300 reviews in their review section if you actually take the time to look and find it.
I am also a Phoenix user and have written about my experience in a one year review and a two year update that I just posted recently. I’ve had my device since 2020 and I’m still seeing results.
Lastly, I also wrote a commentary post on The Phoenix, which gathered unbiased reviews from multiple places on the internet (YouTube comments, blogs, forums, etc.) from real men that are not affiliated with the company. This gives you more relatable experiences and more unbias examples. I did this for YOU guys.
I Encourage You to Keep Reading and to Think Before You Make Any Conclusions
Taking control of your sexual health means you have to be your own advocate. That’s what I’ve been doing for years. As I mentioned earlier, it took me years of researching and becoming more “body aware” to understand my own dysfunctions and the root causes for them.
You can easily do the same if you actually took a little time out of your day to learn one new thing. Whether it’s about shockwave therapy, or trying to enhance your emotional intelligence when talking about erectile dysfunction, or the different types of erectile dysfunction, you are more than capable of doing this if you put in the effort.
Erections or erectile dysfunction is not an easy subject to cover or talk about. Getting an erection is a complex process and having ED doesn’t have to mean that your sex life is over. It’s how you approach the topic both emotionally and physically.
I encourage you to keep learning.
Thanks for always listening!
Much love <3