150 million men worldwide suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). Now, researchers at the Federal University of Health Science of Porto Alegre, Brazil, are looking into a new way to combat the problem.
A clinical trial is being put together by a team of researchers, led by physiotherapist Professor Cristiane Carboni. The trial will test the merits of functional electrical stimulation (FES) on erectile dysfunction (ED). Researchers believe that FES will increase functionality. FES is a therapy that uses low-level electrical currents applied to injured areas, usually the extremities, to stimulate the nerves.
FES is most often used in cases of spinal cord injury (SCI), but lately sufferers of neurological disorders, stroke, bladder control and bowel issues, and others are being treated with FES. For those with SCI, being able to hold things, or functionality associated with the arms and legs is improved with the use of FES. The technique is known to improve circulation, an important element when it comes to ED. FES is generally used in conjunction with other therapies.
Researchers wrote in the study record, “The application of functional electrical stimulation (FES) has been used due to the high regenerative capacity of smooth muscle cells.” These are the kinds of cells generally found to be the culprit causing ED. The study team will recruit 30 male participants ages 40 to 65.
The requirements for participants in this study are as follows:
- Must be in a stable marital relationship for at least six months
- Must have ED diagnosis and have a clinical history of it for at least six months
- Cannot have any spinal cord injuries, clinically low testosterone, or take any medications for ED pills
The participants will be split into two groups. The first will receive “FES (50 Hz/500 us) for 15 minutes with intensity below the motor threshold”. The other will get a placebo. Two sessions a week for four weeks will take place. Patients will then intermittently fill out the International Index of Erectile Function-5 questionnaire in order to measure whether or not functionality has improved. This will be a randomized, double-blind study. Researchers and the urological community are interested in the results and just how much improvement can be seen using FES.