Future Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on September 09, 2023
2 min read

Future treatments for erectile dysfunction focus on providing medications that are more effective, work rapidly, and have fewer if any, side effects than currently available treatments. Currently, there are five oral drugs available to treat ED -- avanafil (Stendra), sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil​​​​​​​ (Cialis), and vardenafi (LevitraStaxyn). A number of pharmaceutical companies are researching new treatments for ED, and many new options may be just around the corner. These include:

Melanocortin activators: These are drugs that appear to act through the central nervous system (for example, the brain). They have been shown in animal studies to produce an erection. Initial studies in humans suggest that the drug (PT-141) can be effective if given intranasally (through the nose) in men with nonmedical (psychological/emotional) rather than physical causes of ED and mild to moderate ED. Larger studies will be necessary to demonstrate the safety and overall effectiveness of these drugs.

Gene therapy: This novel therapy would deliver genes that produce products or proteins that may not be functioning properly in the penile tissue of men with ED. Replacement of these proteins may result in improvement in erectile function. Experimental animal models have demonstrated improvement in erectile function with gene therapy. Human studies may also demonstrate success with this therapy. Gene therapy may take a long time for regulatory approval and public acceptance.

Stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy for ED involves using stem cells either from you or a donor to renew and repair damaged endothelial cells and penile tissue. The cells may be injected directly into your penis or received through IV infusion. Success has thus far been inconsistent and largely dependent on the stem cell donor. 

Platelet-rich plasma. Platelets are cell fragments in your blood that can help heal wounds and grow new blood vessels. Still, studies have shown there is little to no benefit to using PRP in treating ED.

Shockwave therapy. Studies are looking at using low-intensity shock waves as a non-invasive method to help improve penile blood flow to treat ED. Since one of the underlying functional causes of ED is poor cavernosal arterial blood flow, it appears that the shockwaves stimulate the production of new blood vessels which in turn improve erectile function.