Priapus (P-shots) For Erectile Health – All Hype or Legit?
P-Shots or Priapus shots, aptly named for the Roman god of sexual health, are a fast-growing trend in the world of sexual health. Seeing the marketing behind them from some urologists and med spas alike, one would think that it was a guaranteed way to improve erectile health. However, is this all hype, or is there something to it?
Let’s start by understanding exactly what a p-shot is and whether it has any value in medicine and erectile function. These shots are essentially platelet-rich plasma injections into the penis. Platelet-rich plasma is made by drawing the patient’s blood and spinning it in a centrifuge. This spinning action separates the various blood components, including plasma, which contains the platelets essential to the healing process. After harvesting the plasma, it is re-injected into the penis with the promise of rejuvenating tissue.
What’s So Special About Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma and stem cells have been an area of great interest over the past decade. Several medical specialties have dabbled in these treatments, the most notable of which is orthopedic. Orthopedic surgeons nationwide have used platelet-rich plasma injections into the joints to stem joint degradation, known as osteoarthritis. While this practice is relatively common, long-term data is still lacking. In other words, we see some benefits but don’t know the extent of them.
You may have also seen PRP injections marketed to regrow hair, especially in men with male pattern baldness, known as androgenic alopecia. With a combination of medical therapies and PRP, some men have reported a slowing and even regrowth of hair. Again, there’s not much data to show the effectiveness of PRP, though it is heavily marketed in dermatology, med spa, and hair restoration practices.
Even aesthetics practices have jumped on the PRP bandwagon, offering what’s known as a vampire facial where, along with other aesthetic therapies, patients are injected with platelet-rich plasma from their blood.
With so many applications, the concept of PRP for penile health may have some validity in theory. After all, platelet-rich plasma contains nutrient-dense cells that could potentially help tissue rejuvenation. The real question is, does PRP offer any true benefit when injected into the penis? And does the purported benefit justify the cost of treatment, which can be pretty substantial? Let’s review the claims being made and whether they hold any water.
It Will Increase in Girth
This is one of the more egregious claims made by doctors, med spas, and practices touting PRP. All men are endowed with anatomy of a specific size, which is generally determined in our early 20s when our tissues are as healthy as they will ever be. The idea that injecting platelets into older tissues would somehow grow the penis in length or girth doesn’t seem to make much sense. If there is any growth, it could be due to several factors, not least of which is an inflammatory reaction to the injection itself. Any legitimate practice touting this service will likely emphasize the fact that any gains are very much temporary.
It Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction
Moderate to severe erectile dysfunction is primarily caused by a lack of blood flow to the penis. This is due to a phenomenon known as atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up along the walls of the arteries. Because the arteries supplying the penis are significantly smaller than other areas of the body, they tend to occlude more quickly, and that’s why we often see erectile dysfunction as a potential precursor to more significant arterial disease, including coronary artery issues. With that said, injecting PRP into the penis would not address this issue because it simply cannot open the arteries.
However, there is a psychogenic component to erectile dysfunction, especially in younger patients. If patients are concerned about their performance and are having difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection, the placebo effect that PRP could conceivably offer may legitimize these shots, at least in some patients’ eyes.
Improve the Quality of the Erection
Lastly, some claims are made that PRP can improve the quality of an existing erection. Once again, the most likely effect is psychological, with patients believing that they have somehow been enhanced in the sexual health department. That said, we don’t know enough to dismiss this concept entirely. As we’ve discussed previously, there is some research into PRP as a possible tissue rejuvenator – as such, this claim could be valid. With that said, no rigorous studies show this to be the case.
Should You Get P-shots?
As with many alternative sexual wellness questions, our answer is: if you have the money and you choose a legitimate and experienced practitioner who will perform a relatively safe procedure of which you understand the risks, we do not necessarily discourage you from doing so. In other words, if you aren’t doing damage and are OK with potentially losing money on something that does not work, we will not stand in your way.
However, there is a certain point where patients need to understand that their erectile function revolves around something that none of us can control – age. It’s something that many of us have a difficult time dealing with, certainly in our 40s and 50s. Ultimately, each of our bodies is different, and one of the great benefits of modern urology is that we have effective treatments for virtually any patient and any circumstance of sexual wellness. As such, we want to emphasize that you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Natale and understand more about your options using tried and true methods that have been tested rigorously in clinical trials.