The little blue pill brought erectile dysfunction from out of the shadows and into our shared awareness. Erectile dysfunction affects millions of men and, in turn, their sexual partners. The condition can undermine a man’s sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and masculinity. While the little blue pill has been instrumental in getting men with erectile dysfunction to ask their doctors about treatment, that same pill does not work for every man. Indeed, countless men fail to achieve successful erections even after taking oral erectile dysfunction medication.
In one of the first clinical studies of its kind, urologists at a medical practice in Florida tested the effects of mesenchymal stem cell treatments in men with erectile dysfunction. They selected eight men with erectile dysfunction who could not achieve erections even after oral medications. The men received mesenchymal stem cells that were derived from human placenta (also known as afterbirth). The urologists then followed the men for six months after treatment, testing blood flow, penile size, and erectile function.
The men treated with mesenchymal stem cells had a statistically significant increase in penile blood flow at six weeks, three months, and six months after treatment. Three men were able to achieve erections within three months of treatment without oral erectile dysfunction medication. After stem cell treatment, four other men were able to achieve erections with low-dose oral erectile dysfunction medication (which had previously been ineffective).
Importantly, the treatment was well-tolerated by all men in the study, which is an important milestone for continuing this research.
The study is potentially groundbreaking as it opens the door to larger clinical studies in men with erectile dysfunction. Indeed, nearly two dozen clinical trials are now studying the effects of stem cell treatment for erectile dysfunction. These early results are exciting, and offer hope to men with erectile dysfunction, especially those for whom oral medications have failed.
Reference: Levy, JA (2016). Determining the Feasibility of Managing Erectile Dysfunction in Humans With Placental-Derived Stem Cells. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2016 Jan;116(1):e1-5.