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What to Know About Stem Cell Therapies for Erectile Dysfunction

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

In general, stem cell therapies are still experimental therapeutic approaches and have not yet been introduced into routine medical practice. In other words, stem cell therapies are one of the regenerative treatment methods, the efficacy of which has not yet been proven. There are still many ethical and scientific debates on the subject. A very limited number of clinical studies have been published for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. There are uncertainties at many points, including the correct method of deriving stem cells, the optimal number of stem cells to be injected, the proliferation and culture of stem cells, and the number of sessions required

For the use of stem cells in the treatment of ED, the most recent review published in the Sexual Journal of Medicine Reviews in 2019 could include 5 clinical studies and a total of 61 patients. In these studies, bone marrow (2), adipose tissue (1), pleural (1) and umbilical cord (1) were used as stem cell sources. The data are quite insufficient to reach a definitive conclusion. However, when these studies were interpreted together, it was concluded that stem cell therapy results for ED were promising

Atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction are the most important causes of erectile dysfunction. In this respect, the penis is structurally very similar to the heart. Endothelial cell damage, vascular occlusion and dysfunction, fibrosis and neuronal conduction problems developing with the loss of smooth muscle tissue affect both organs in a similar way. Many studies have shown that erectile dysfunction problems already arise more than 2 years earlier in the majority of men who developed coronary artery disease. Therefore, the penis is actually an important indicator of cardiac health.

After deriving the stem cell from its source, its separation from other cells, proliferation by culturing, and storage are a complex process that experienced and accredited stem cell laboratories can do. Naturally, stem cell therapies are expensive treatments. It is beneficial to be careful about misinformation and directions that will abuse the patient. Today, in the treatment of relatively simple health problems, making a suspension rich in stem cell from the material derived from tissue, blood or bone marrow with the help of some separation devices and using it in the target organ are considered as a rapid treatment option with a high-cost efficacy.

For today, bone marrow "bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSC)" and adipose tissue "adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC)" are the most studied stem cell sources for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The final conclusion on which of these two sources is the best has not yet been reached. It is obvious that randomized and placebo-controlled well-designed studies are needed.

Is penile PRP treatment stem cell therapy?

PRP therapy is certainly not stem cell therapy. Nowadays, many private clinics are marketing simple PRP procedures as stem cell therapy. PRP is a treatment modality assumed to stimulate stem cells in the area where they are injected. In addition, it can be stated that very few CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells can be derived by some separation and concentration procedures in the blood. However, it is not possible for the number of stem cells to be derived by this technique to reach the therapeutic level.


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