Health Topics

Plasma injection: a possible treatment for erectile dysfunction

Along with prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction is one of the most common reasons for consultations in urology and, as such, is one of the matters that most concerns the male population. For this reason, there has been a lot of investment in investigating different treatments for this disease, from pills, penile prosthetics and stimulation with shock waves. Furthermore, in the last few years, platelet-rich plasma has started to be used.  

One of the most “trendy” options in the field of sexual medicine is platelet-rich plasma. It is a strategy that is taking off, especially in the United States. It consists of extracting the patient’s blood, which is run through a centrifuge to separate the blood cells from the plasma. This plasma can then be treated with different methods, and is re-injected into the patient's penis, with the objective of improving vascularisation, amongst other things.  

There is a lot of experience with plasma in specialties such as traumatology, sports medicine, aesthetic medicine, the treatment of alopecia, etc. In the case of this treatment being used for erectile dysfunction, nothing indicates that it may be a dangerous treatment when administered by a urologist. However, in terms of effectiveness, we must be cautious.  

Data from research in mice shows a certain improvement was observed when injecting plasma into the penis after suffering a mechanical lesion. However, there have been no controlled studies in humans. Nevertheless, there is data that documents the large number of centres offering this treatment to patients around the world, particularly in North America. In Europe, this treatment is considered safe but experimental. For this reason, patients must sign an informed consent form stating that they will be subject to a procedure the benefits of which are not known.  

Nevertheless, many clinics use very bold slogans to sell their plasma treatments, describing effects that could be called miraculous. Furthermore, these descriptions usually do not mention any side effects, only extraordinary results – including increasing the size of the penis. One of these plasma treatments is marketed in the USA under the name Priapus Shot, in reference to the god of the same name. Priapus is a Greco-Roman deity who was represented as a small, bearded man with a disproportionately large penis.  

Although these new therapies are promising, there is still a lot to investigate before being able to confirm that platelet-rich plasma is a valid option, and is comparable to approved and recognised treatments for erectile dysfunction.  

Author: Eduardo García Cruz, Urologist at the Urology Department, Hospital Clínic