Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition when a man cannot obtain or maintain an erection firm enough for sufficient sexual intercourse. It is a common concern among men and affects about 50% of men aged 50 and above.1 Not only does ED affect our quality of life, it is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes.2,3 Appropriately treating of ED offers an opportunity to improve a man’s health in multiple ways.
Platelets play a crucial role in our body’s inflammatory response, tissue remodeling and angiogenesis [formation of new blood vessels]. The use of autologous [obtained from the same individual] platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an emerging treatment for ED. Firstly, a blood sample is obtained from the patient. This sample is centrifuged [a type of processing] until only a fluid, called supernatant, containing platelets and plasma proteins, remain. These plasma proteins consist of growth factors essential for tissue restoration. This supernatant is subsequently injected directly into the corpus cavernosum of the penis in ED patients, which can aid in the healing process through repairing of damaged tissue and cell proliferation.4
To date, there are very minimal studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of PRP as a treatment for ED. Only 3 animal studies have demonstrated the application of PRP to facilitate nerve regeneration and erectile function recovery.5–7 Moreover, there have only been 2 human studies evaluating the safety, but not the efficacy, of PRP.8,9 The safety of PRP has been suggested in the study by Matz et al. in 2018 where PRP fibrin matrix was used in 5 patients, with no major complications and with minor complications such as pain or bruising at the injection sites occurring in 20% of patients.8 These studies are not without its limitations. First, these studies only evaluated a small number of participant. Theses studies were also not the best designed study as they did not include appropriate groups to compare PRP therapies to currently approved therapies. Furthermore, the lack of a common PRP protocol on the duration and frequency of treatment is also considered a limitation.
According to the current American Urological Association (AUA) and Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) guidelines for ED, the expert opinion consensus is that PRP therapy should not be offered to men with ED, unless it is administered in the context of an approved experimental clinical research study.10 Unfortunately, this therapy is still directly advertised to consumers and is readily available for purchase often requiring upfront cash payments. As there are currently no studies available to constitute a strong evidence base, reliable information regarding the potential risks and benefits of PRP therapy is still unavailable. Hence, it is necessary to conduct larger clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness of PRP prior to it being recommended widely to patients.
Several effective and proven treatment options exist to treat ED. These treatments include oral medications, penile injections, vaccuum erection devices, and penile implants. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung to receive an in-depth evaluation of your history and symptoms to find the best treatment option for you.