By msnbc.com contributor
updated 10/28/2011 1:56:45 PM ET 2011-10-28T17:56:45

In case you had any doubts — and how could you after all those football-through-the-tire, middle-aged-men-channeling-Elvis, kitchens-turning-into-rainforests commercials — men value their erections.

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When our penis hydraulics fail, we’ll swallow our pride and the magic pills, and if they fail, we’ll vacuum pump it, tie it up with rubber bands, use a needle and syringe to shoot drugs into it, and, if none of that works, we’ll have the poor guy reamed out and stuffed with plastic tubes we can fill with salt water for woodies on demand.

Now some Israeli doctors have tried yet another technique: shocking the poor thing. Using something they call “low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy,” a team from the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa actually succeeded in giving recalcitrant penises a boost.

A year ago, they announced that a study using both tissue in culture dishes and actual human erectile dysfunction patients appeared to indicate that applying shockwaves to the tissue sparked the growth of new blood vessels. That’s important because erections are caused by blood rushing into the penile vasculature. Often, as men age, we accumulate vasculature damage. Sometimes as a result of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the penile blood vessels degrade. E.D. pills like Viagra boost blood flow into the penis to compensate.

Last time, the team tested the idea on patients who responded to PD-5 inhibitors like Viagra. This time, they selected patients, many with complicating diseases like diabetes, who did not, or were no longer, responding to the pills.

In each treatment session, men were given 300 shocks over a period of three minutes, on five points along the shaft of the penis. There were two sessions per week for three weeks, then three weeks off, and then another three-week treatment period. The shocks were tiny, really, and the men didn’t complain of any pain or discomfort.

The goal was to see if the therapy would make the pills any more effective.

Two months after the treatments concluded, erection scores — yes, erections get scores just like Olympic divers — improved in 75 percent of the 29 men in the study. Eight men, nearly 30 percent, had erections in the normal range when they used an E.D. pill. Blood flow improved in all the men. That’s pretty impressive considering seven of the men were already using the injections and two of the men were considering a penile implant — a drastic last resort.

The study authors stress that this was not a placebo-controlled trial of the technique and they plan more tests. Still, it’s pretty big news if this shock therapy really can spark new vessel growth. If so, shocking your boy may well become standard. If, that is, our abused penises don’t rebel first.

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