Stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the newest treatment options for this population of men. Experts report that stem cell therapy appears to be effective for ED from various causes, including low testosterone, penile cell tissue damage, and diabetes, among others.
Stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction
Dozens of studies of stem cell therapy for ED have shown that men experience an improvement in erectile function after receiving the injections as well as healthier, regenerated erectile tissue. That’s because stem cells (technically, mesenchymal stem cells, MSCs) naturally regenerate and repair cells of the body, replacing damaged ones and restoring tissue that has been harmed.
The procedure, which is performed on an outpatient basis, takes about three hours and involves injecting the patient’s own stem cells into the corpus cavernosum. The stem cells are harvested from two places: fat tissue (adipose, especially rich in MSCs) using liposuction, while additional stem cells and growth factors are taken from the bone marrow of the iliac crest (in the hip). This combination of cells is then processed through a centrifuge and then injected into the penis using a micro needle. The entire process from start to finish requires only local anesthesia and light sedation.
Men who undergo stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction report little post-procedural pain or discomfort. Common side effects include slight swelling, redness or bruising for 12 to 24 hours.
Improvement in erectile function typically is noticeable in as little as two to four weeks, and improvement continues to improve for 6 to 12 months following the procedure.
Platelet rich plasma for erectile dysfunction
Another approach that is similar to stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction is called platelet rich plasma (PRP). This approach involves harvesting blood from a vein and using a highly advanced centrifuge to obtain a high concentration of platelets that is five to ten times that found in blood. PRP also is rich in growth factors. Once the processed blood is injected into the penis, the platelets begin to release various growth factors that bring in stem cells and new blood vessels to the penis, which in turn improves erectile function.
Although PRP does involve adding some stem cells to the penis, stem cell injection therapy is much more advanced. Men who try PRP for erectile dysfunction can expect improved erections for up to 18 months or longer, after which another injection will be necessary. Stem therapy for erectile dysfunction is considered to be more long-term. It is also possible to add PRP to stem cell therapy procedure. You will need to discuss this possibility with your doctor.
PRP and stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction are generally not covered by insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier as part of your decision process.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Alwaal A et al. Stem cell treatment of erectile dysfunction. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 2015 Mar; 82-83
European Association of Urology. “Stem cells shown to restore erection capability in men with erectile dysfunction.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2017.