A noninvasive, drug-free treatment for BPH
Summary: Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy can reduce BPH symptoms and size of the prostate.
Enlarged prostate is a common problem in older males (both humans and non-humans). The Parsemus Foundation sponsored a study using pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy in dogs with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which was effective at reducing the size of the prostate gland in only three weeks. The foundation then supported a small clinical trial in men to see if the positive results translated to humans. After treatment with PEMF, men had significantly reduced symptoms and prostate volume, although the reduction was not as extensive as in the canine model. The results of these studies offer hope for a non-invasive treatment for enlarged prostate.
What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?
BPH is an age-related enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH is one of the most frequent medical problems in elderly males. In humans, it can result in urinary tract problems, obstruction of the urethra, sexual dysfunction and blood in the urine. One of the most frequent symptoms is having to get up to use the bathroom multiple times during the night.
BPH results from urogenital aging, although the etiology is not precisely known. Traditional treatment options for men with BPH include medications such as alpha-blockers or surgical interventions. Side effects of treatments may include the inability to ejaculate, retrograde ejaculation (semen flows backwards into the bladder), erectile dysfunction, and even loss of bladder control. Some men affected have reported that taking saw palmetto, an herbal supplement, gives them relief but clinical evidence for its effectiveness is not conclusive. Clearly, effective and less invasive treatments for this common disease are needed.
PEMF to treat men with BPH
Only two studies had previously investigated the use of PEMF to treat BPH symptoms in men, both with positive results using an in-office magnetotherapy device. A 2011 study in 20 humans indicated that clinical symptoms of BPH were significantly reduced after PEMF application and that the effect lasted at least 12 months. A second 2017 study in 60 men compared PEMF therapy – with and without exercise – to controls (not receiving treatment). The scientists found significantly improved urinary symptoms with both treatment groups.
The Parsemus Foundation collaborated with medical researchers from Sapienza University in Rome on a small trial using a similar treatment regimen and handheld PEMF device as used in the successful canine study. After one month of treatment (5 mins twice a day) with a Magcell® Microcirc PEMF device, the 27 patients had significantly decreased symptoms and a median decrease of 5.4% of prostate size. Men with moderate-severe lower urinary tract symptoms and without metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist) benefited more from the treatment. The study was published in Andrology.
While more research is needed in men to optimize the results, those who are particularly bothered by BPH symptoms, haven’t had success with herbal medicine (like saw palmetto) and don’t want surgery may decide in conjunction with their doctors to get one of the PEMF devices and try it.
How does pulsed electromagnetic field therapy work?
The mechanism of action of PEMF on canine BPH is not exactly known and could involve several modalities. The electromagnetic field is produced by a device that reduces inflammation by promoting growth of new blood vessels, dilation of blood vessels, and tissue remodeling. The overall effect is reduction in tissue hypoxia. By reducing inflammation PEMF may prevent complications or may play a role in reducing changes linked to BPH and related conditions. By producing an increase in blood circulation, PEMF may also help to prevent secondary complications caused by reduced arterial blood flow such as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) and improve BPH symptoms.
To learn more about the use of PEMF to treat enlarged prostate, review the scientific publications and share them with your physician. The devices used in the studies were made by Physiomed Elektromedizin AG in Germany. They offer the Magcell Microcirc (for humans) and Magcell Vetri (for animals). Both appear to have the same power and settings (although the Microcirc is not available in the US yet).
Elgohary, H. M., Tantawy, S. A. (2017). Pulsed electromagnetic field with or without exercise therapy in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Phys Ther Sci, 29(8), 1305–1310. (Available online)
Giannakopoulos XK, Giotis C, Karkabounas SCh, Verginadis II, Simos YV, Peschos D, Evangelou AM. (2011). Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on benign prostate hyperplasia. Int Urol Nephrol 43(4):955-60. (Available online)
Tenuta M, Tarsitano MG, Mazzotta P et al. (2020). Therapeutic use of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy reduces prostate volume and lower urinary tract symptoms in benign prostatic hyperplasia. Andrology. Feb 23. (Available online). Press release.
Personal story of one man’s success in using the Magcell Microcirc to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. (Available online)
Review of BPH treatments (not including PEMF)
Fouad Aoun, Quentin Marcelis, and Thierry Roumeguère (2015). “Minimally invasive devices for treating lower urinary tract symptoms in benign prostate hyperplasia: technology update”. Res Rep Urol 2015; 7: 125–136. (Available online)
PEMF device used in study
Magcell Microcirc is available from Physiomed Elektromedizin in Germany or distributors in other countries.
While the Microcirc is not yet available in the U.S., the Magcell Vetri (a similar veterinary model used in the canine study) can be obtained from the U.S. distributor: