Penile Vibratory Stimulation to Treat Neurogenic ED: Viberect and Beyond
Erectile dysfunction is caused by many different factors – when it is an age-related problem, first-line treatment options like Viagra and other PDE-5 inhibitors usually suffice. It is more complicated to develop a proper treatment plan in men with ED due to nerve damage. This condition is common in men who have sustained spinal cord injury or undergone radical prostatectomy as well as in patients with diabetes. One of the most recent additions to the array of treatment options available to such patients is penile vibratory stimulation.
Penile vibratory stimulation or PVS therapy involves using special devices to activate the pudendal nerves located inside the penis. When stimulated, the nerve endings release nitric oxide leading to an increase in the levels of cGMP and subsequent relaxation of smooth muscles lining the blood vessels in the penile shaft. As the result, the penis is filled with blood and an erection occurs. Unlike other treatments that require the patient to be sexually stimulated for them to work, PVS proves to be effective even in the absence of external visual sexual stimuli, as this study by Segal et al shows.
Although penile vibratory stimulation is not yet included in the current edition of the American Urological Association Guidelines on Erectile Dysfunction, there is at least one FDA-approved PVS device currently available for purchase. It is Viberect by US-based Reflexonic LLC – a rehabilitation device equipped with two vibrating soft pads that, when placed on the head of the penis, stimulate the pudendal nerves and trigger an erection within 3-10 minutes. Viberect is recommended for treatment of mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, especially in post-prostatectomy patients and men with spinal cord injury. There’s also an updated version of the device made especially for the latter group of patients, the Viberect X3. It is designed to treat erectile dysfunction and induce ejaculation in men with anorgasmia/anejaculation.
There are multiple researches studying the efficacy and safety of PVS therapy in men with erectile dysfunction. A 2018 article by Clavell Hernandez et al published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine studies 31 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy and used Viberect to help restore sexual function afterwards. Although the study did record a higher trend in the erectile function score among the PVS patients when compared to the control group, the difference wasn’t statistically significant. The PVS patients were also more satisfied with the results of the treatment than the control group members.
An earlier study by Fode et al produced similar results although it focused on 68 post-prostatectomy patients who underwent rehabilitation therapy with PDE-5 inhibitors. 30 of the patients enrolled in the study used Ferti Care PVS device by Danish Multicept A/S alongside medication and 38 relied on the medication alone. Overall, there was a trend towards better erectile function in the PVS+PDE5i group.
A study by Richard Wassersug and Erik Wibowo published in 2017 also shows that there are other vibrators apart from Viberect that help men with ED. It mentions Cobra Libre and Pulse as possible replacements.
An analysis of Viberect user reviews on Amazon proves that the results vary from person to person. The device has an overall rating on 2.9 out of 5 stars. 21 out of 43 reviewers say Viberect works for them, 6 say it somewhat works and 16 either claim that it’s completely ineffective or complain about other things that render the device useless for them – e.g. high noise levels, technical problems, etc.
Even though the efficacy of penile vibratory stimulation is lower than that of Viagra and similar medications, this form of treatment is a viable option for non-responders to PDE-5 inhibitors. As more researches analyze its safety and develop more advanced methods of its application in future, it is expected to grow in popularity.
- MJ Stein et al, Mechanism of action of penile vibratory stimulation to induce erection - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24489605/
- RL Segal et al, Penile vibratory stimulation in healthy males - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23930610
- American Urological Association Guidelines on erectile dysfunction - https://www.auanet.org/Documents/Guidelines/ED%20Website%20Final.pdf
- Viberect FDA approval - https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf14/K142304.pdf
- J Clavell Hernandez et al, Viberect therapy in post-prostatectomy patients - https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(18)30555-1/fulltext
- M Fode et al, Penile rehabilitation after radical prostatectomy, PDE5i + PVS therapy versus PDE5i therapy - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313301/
- R Wassersug, E Wibowo, Non-medical and non-surgical means of managing erectile dysfunction - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5715194/
- Viberect user reviews on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Viberect-Medical-Stimulator-Treatment-Vibrator/product-reviews/B00OC28HIY/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_paging_btm_prev_1?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews&pageNumber=1