A new treatment for erectile dysfunction may hold out hope for the 30 million men in the United States who are affected by the embarrassing condition that often is related to aging. Medical researchers have found that stem cells derived from the body’s own fatty cells can provide relief and help restore function to men suffering from erectile dysfunction.
What Is ED?
It’s hard to turn on the television these days without running across an ad for medications that help “improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.” Also called “male impotence,” ED is defined by doctors as at least 3 months of experiencing difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. The specific causes of erectile dysfunction vary, but in more than 70% of all reported cases, the ED results from damage to the nerves, smooth tissues, arteries and fibrous tissues involved in erection. The various diseases implicated include diabetes, chronic alcoholism, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders.
How Stem Cell Transplants Can Help
Stem cells are non-specialized cells in the body that have the capacity to become a number of different types of body cells, including muscle cells, bone cells and blood cells. The stem cells used for treating erectile dysfunction are most often derived from the patient’s own stem cells, taken from fatty tissues or bone marrow and re-injected into the body at the treatment site. There, the stem cells help the body to regenerate damaged blood vessels and create new blood vessels, relieving the major cause of erectile dysfunction.
Risks of Stem Cell Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
The risks of this type of stem cell therapy are few because the procedures use stem cells that originated in the patient’s own body. That eliminates the chance of allergic reaction or tissue rejection. The body won’t reject the new blood vessels created this way because they are, quite literally, a part of the patient’s own body. The side effects are minor and include temporary pain, tenderness or inflammation at the injection site. Improvement in the symptoms of ED appears to be long-term because the therapy appears to actually repair the damage done to the blood vessels that feed blood to the erectile tissue.
The procedure used to treat erectile dysfunction is very similar to the treatments used to boost tissue regeneration and improve healing times in patients suffering from congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease.