The sexual dysfunction known as Erectile Dysfunction (ED), or Impotence, is characterized by the inability to produce or sustain an erection of the penis during the sexual act. For this inability to be recognized as a disease it has to occur on multiple occasions. Especially elderly people have a high probability of suffering from erectile dysfunction, but in general men of every age can develop it. About 25 percent of males have to deal with temporary or long-term erectile dysfunction. The causes for ED vary from psychological ones to physical ones.
Relationships oftentimes suffer from the consequences of the disease and it is known to be a first indicator for the occurrence of more serious diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Men with a rather unhealthy lifestyle are more prone to develop an erectile dysfunction.
For a successful treatment it is most important to diagnose it early and start treatment as soon as possible. Because impotence is still a topic that cannot be discussed openly by most men, early recognition and consultation of a doctor are problematic.
The reasons for the occurrence of impotence can be very different. Both physical and psychological triggers are known, with the physical ones being by far the most prevalent. The main causes of ED are high age, metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes), disturbances of the blood circulation, hormone insufficiencies, and neurological problems.
Another cause for impotence is the damaging of certain nerves following surgery on the prostate (e.g., in prostate cancer), in the area of the rectum, or the spinal cord. Especially after prostate surgery the probability to suffer from impotence afterwards is very high.
The psychological triggers include depression, partner conflicts, stress at work, low self-esteem, and fear of failure. In case impotence occurs frequently, the psychological factors such as self-uncertainty and fear of failure often intensify.
Therapy of Erectile Dysfunction
The first step of successful therapy is to change one’s lifestyle. A healthier way of life achieved through a healthier and balanced diet and an increase in physical activity and sports can oftentimes help to reduce the symptoms.
The most well-known way of dealing with impotence is the consumption of pharmaceuticals in the form of pills, such as Viagra. These drugs are so called PDE-5 inhibitor drugs and work by widening the blood vessels of the penis to ease their filling with blood, thus helping get and maintain an erection.
Other pharmaceutical therapies are injections into the penis, which help in the short term but damage the penis when used for a long period, thereby worsening the problem.
In very rare cases surgery is needed to cure erectile dysfunction. In those cases a penile prosthesis is inserted into the damaged tissue to replace it.
Therapy of Erectile Dysfunction with Bioidentical Hormones
In many cases erectile dysfunction is caused by disturbances of the hormone balance, which is a consequence of aging or high stress levels. In addition to a change of lifestyle missing hormones (testosterone, etc.) can be supplied directly in the form of bioidentical hormones. With this therapy it is easier to gain and sustain an erection while not suffering any of the negative side effects of other medication.
Stem Cell Therapy of Erectile Dysfunction
For the treatment of erectile dysfunction Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) or Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) can be used. Stem cells are considered to be the precursor cells of all cells in the human body. Meanwhile it is known that the main effect of mesenchymal stem cells is the modulation of the immune system and the stimulation of regeneration of tissues and blood vessels by means of cytokines. The use of mesenchymal stem cells suggests itself for the treatment of ED because the disease is often caused by damaged vasculature and nerves in the penis.
Mesenchymal stem cells and SVF are isolated from a small amount of the patient’s own fat tissue, which is harvested by means of liposuction. The stem cells are injected directly into the penis or administered systemically. Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to stimulate the stationary stem cells of the damaged penile tissue to regenerate tissue, blood vessels, as well as nerve cells. If the damages to the tissue are reduced the ability to produce or sustain an erection can improve.