• Jennifer Barnick

Sexual Healing: Stem Cell Therapy

Couple on a Beach

Photo Source: MaxPixel

It has been shown in many studies that a healthy sex life is not just an issue of pleasure, rather, it is an integral part of an overall physically and psychologically healthy life for both men and women. A wave of new clinical human trials on top of many animal studies is showing that stem cell therapy might be an important treatment for Erectile Dysfunction. Erectile Dysfunction can afflict men of all ages; however, as men age past 50, the numbers of ED rise. Additionally, health issues such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression can play a significant role in the development of ED. In many cases, especially with advanced prostate cancer and diabetes, drug therapies alone do not work. In other cases, the drugs have too many adverse side effects for the patient to use.

In a paper published by the National Institute of Science titled The Current Status of Stem-Cell Therapy in Erectile Dysfunction: A Review by Amanda B. Reed-Maldonado and Tom F. Lue (ncbi.nih.gov, Dec. 22, 2016), peer-reviewed papers were analyzed. Overall, the authors looking at the studies found the science very promising. “All four [peer-reviewed papers] report improvements in ED after SC [stem cell] therapy. SC therapy remains under investigation for the treatment of ED. It is reassuring that clinical trials thus far have reported positive effects on erectile function and few adverse events. Safety and methodical concerns about SC acquisition, preparation and delivery remain and require continued investigation prior to widespread application of these methods.” Some clinics harvested the stem cells from the patients’ own bone marrow, some harvested the stem cells from the stomach fat of the patients, and some used stem cells from an outside donor usually in the form of human placenta. It is not clear which method is the safest and most effective. Besides basic dangers from any surgical procedure (the harvesting of stem cells requires general anesthesia and is a surgical procedure), there are other health concerns that have not been thoroughly studied. “Concerns about the possible promotion of malignant growth remain paramount as studies exploring the utilization of stem cells for benign human disease progress.” (Reed-Maldonado, Lue, ncbi.nih.gov, Dec. 22, 2016)

Even with the worries surrounding the safety and effectiveness of SC therapy for the treatment of ED, the human clinical trials are reporting amazing results. “In their phase 1 trial, Dr. Haahr and colleagues tested stem cell therapy on 21 men who had ED as a result of undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer. None of the men had responded to standard medical treatment for ED. […] We are pleased with the preliminary outcomes, especially as these men had previously seen no effect from traditional medical treatment and continue to have good erectile function after 12 months follow-up, indication that this might be a long-term solution.” (Erectile Dysfunction: Stem Cell Therapy Restores Sexual Function in Phase 1 Trial by Honor Whiteman, medicalnewstoday.com, March 25, 2017) In another study, men with advanced diabetes also showed dramatic results with no reported side effects—accepting that for some their diabetes improved—hinting that the stem cell therapy also had a rejuvenating effect on the entire body. Most of the men in the studies found the best results when SC therapy was coupled with oral medication for ED (before the SC therapy, oral medication for ED did not work for any of the men in the study).

Currently, stem cell therapy is still viewed as experimental. Consequently, elective SC treatment for ED would have to be out of pocket (unless you could find an SC therapy study for ED in your area—it would be free if you were accepted). Today, there are many stem cell therapy clinics throughout the world. Some focus on one or two health issues while others offer countless cures. The science looks very promising for using SC therapy on ED, and many men today are going forward and receiving stem cell therapy from a private clinic. Some reports of fraudulent or poor practices from these clinics have arisen. A gentleman named John Rodolf is currently suing a stem cell therapy clinic for fraud. The clinic claimed they could successfully treat COPD using stem cell therapy. The clinic being sued had cited several scientific papers and patient testimonies. After the invasive treatment, Mr. Rodolf found zero difference in his COPD. (The Trouble with Stem Cell Therapy: A New Industry is Booming. But Critics Worry that the Treatments are Ineffective and Dangerous. Here’s How to Protect Yourself by Jeneen Interlandi, January 11, 2018) This article is linked in the title, and definitely read it if you or a loved one is currently considering stem cell therapy. It is not to say that stem cell therapy is not effective for ED. The science is pretty strong; however, the amount of papers on it is also slim, and there is not yet a consensus for the best way to harvest stem cells and how and when to apply.

A few words regarding female sexual health. Women too face sexual health issues. Loss of libido, the inability to orgasm, and painful intercourse are some of the main sexual health problems women face. Unlike science in the past, it has now been established that sexual health is just as important for the overall physical and psychological health of women as it is for men. For too long women’s sexual health was ignored as being an important medical issue. While it is luckily now addressed, many women have not found success with the current medical therapies available. I searched and searched and searched for peer review studies on stem cell therapy and female sexual health issues and could not find a single scientific study. There may be some, and certainly many of the clinics published studies along with patient testimonials on their websites, as there were many clinics that claim to address the main problems surrounding female sex medical issues (including post-childbirth laxity). Some of the clinics included claims of powerful orgasms and used very erotic imagery. I must admit I was a little put off by the way stem cell therapy was marketed towards women. It seemed condescending in its unscientific and more emotional ploys. Sexual dysfunction for women is painful, and for many women, it is a difficult thing to discuss. It is also something that can profoundly affect a woman’s life beyond her physical health as it often affects the woman’s marriage. With that said, SC therapy still offers some promise that there might be another road for women seeking help to have their sex life restored.

Stem cell therapy for the treatment of ED is now in phase I and II human clinical trials, and so far, the results are very good. While there have not been reports of adverse side effects, the scientific and medical communities still argue to be very cautious as the use of stem cell therapy for ED is still relatively new. There are also large question marks as to the best method, as there are many variations. You will find as you look through one clinic after another, they all claim that their method is the best. Again, talk to your doctor before considering SC therapy for both ED and female sexual health, and do as much research as possible.

Jennifer Barnick

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.

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