Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Electrical stimulation to treat Erectile Dysfunction?

I was caught up in an article earlier about electrical stimulation in various parts of the body. There are many claims about electrical stimulation(ES), but one in particular I was interested in finding more details about and I cannot seem to find any conclusive answers online.

I have seen products advertised with ES such as the belt that goes around your waist which supposedly tones your muscles and gives you great abs without working out, or the one that is made for women that does essentially the same thing to increase breast size. Some of you may remember the experiment with this particular device last summer. For those who don’t, I was asked to review this product which was a 6 week (twice a day) experiment. Although I did see an increase in firmness, there was no increase in size.

The newest one claims to have the same effect on men in the treatment of ED. The theory is, by applying ES the muscles of the penis are stimulated, or exercised therefore making them stronger and more sensitive to other forms of stimulation. I am wondering if this is theory rings any truth? I mean, in theory it sounds plausible. But in actuality, does it work? And does the result outweigh the risks?

“While it may be true that EMS does enhance muscle growth and recuperation, there is no clinical or therapeutic evidence that it causes muscle hypertrophy in normal individuals at this time. Electrical stimulators definitely get your muscles moving and you do feel as though you worked out. However, they do not provide the resistance that weights do. The electricity forces your muscle to contract and the part of you body attached to the muscle moves”(Rutgers). But with a lack of weight or resistance being added, it is unlikely that you will see any significant muscle mass from this therapy.

Obviously playing with electricity comes with risks: shocks, burns, infection, tissue damage, interference with heart function, to name a few. When I think of electrical stimulation, the first thought that pops into my head is the TENS Unit. “TENS” is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. This unit works two ways. One, it interrupts the pain signal going to the brain from the effected area. Two, it also increases endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer). Which of course leads to question the validity of the second part of the claim; how does ES help increase sensitivity to other forms of stimulation on the penis?