Plenty of men rely on drugs like Viagra or Cialis to address erectile dysfunction. These medications have been around long enough for their safety and efficacy to be widely accepted in the medical community.1 But they aren’t without their side effects, and some men would undoubtedly prefer to find a drug-free treatment alternative — both for any health implications and for the potential savings it could offer.
One such treatment is acoustic shockwave therapy, which is typically administered in a urologist’s office and involves expensive machinery.2 But Launch Medical’s Phoenix is an at-home shockwave device that promises to work as well as the machines found in doctors’ offices.
Our testing team looked closely at the Phoenix to determine whether it could live up to its promises and whether shockwave therapy is as promising as some proponents claim.
We were pleasantly surprised by the specs the Phoenix offers, with a pneumatic shockwave mechanism not unlike those seen in certain clinical environments and a pulse frequency in line with what appears effective in scientific research. However, it’s a greater up-front expense than many would like to pay, especially if they could get insurance coverage for treatments from a urologist. And there’s no denying the device is loud. But considering the time saved commuting to — and waiting at — a doctor’s office, you may find it worth the price. For men interested in shockwave treatment from the comfort and privacy of their own home, it’s a viable alternative therapy for ED.
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test every product and service we review, including those aimed at treating erectile dysfunction. We were no strangers to shockwave therapy when the Phoenix hit the market; over the past few years, our research team has consumed over 400 scholarly articles pertaining to ED, its treatments, and shockwave therapy in particular.
We directly compared the Phoenix — its practical function and technical specifications — to machines used by urologists and to numerous clinical studies. Additionally, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lives.
In evaluating the Phoenix, we considered four key criteria that we felt would apply to most men interested in alternative treatments for ED. The first and most important of these is effectiveness — whether the treatment actually works — followed closely by cost, safety, and privacy. Let’s take a closer look at each criterion to see how the Phoenix performed.
In measuring the effectiveness of the Phoenix, we took a close look at the available scientific research investigating the efficacy of shockwave therapy as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Then, we compared the technical specifications of the Phoenix to those seen in shockwave machines used by clinicians.
Numerous studies support shockwave treatment as a way to improve symptoms of ED. One recent review of studies showed a roughly 30% increase in both International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores and Erectile Hardness Scores (EHS) after only three months of shockwave therapy.3
In another study comparing radial and focused shockwave treatments, a 15Hz radial treatment appeared to be moderately effective, with 75% of participants seeing improvements.4 Several other studies looked at lower-frequency shockwave treatments for ED, ranging from 2Hz-6Hz, and saw similar efficacy.
The Phoenix produces a radial shockwave with a frequency range of 15Hz-19Hz. That may seem a little high, given that many studies work with slightly lower frequencies and that many clinical shockwave devices operate up to 15Hz. That’s likely because lower frequencies achieve deeper penetration, which can be helpful to reach an injured hip through a dense layer of body fat, but is unnecessary to affect the tissues and circulation in the average penis.5 That’s why ED shockwave studies see similar efficacy at both 15Hz and 2Hz — 15Hz is low enough.
All of this paints a picture of a device that should prove effective for the majority of users who stick to the protocol.
If all we used to evaluate the cost of the Phoenix were in-office clinical shockwave applications, the device would likely have a much higher score. According to one provider, the out-of-pocket cost per in-office treatment is $500-$600, with about six treatments over the course of three months and two annual treatments each year after that. That comes out to just over $4,000 for the first year and $1,200 yearly thereafter.
The Phoenix, by comparison, costs $879 upfront. That’s a little more than the cost of a single in-office treatment. The company also often offers a coupon that brings the cost down to around $704, as well as a financing option through Affirm that costs about $43/month until the device is paid off (about 20 months).
However, shockwave treatment isn’t your only option for treating ED. If you’re a candidate for them and aren’t opposed to medical intervention, generic forms of drugs like Viagra and Cialis have gotten extremely inexpensive over the years. In some cases, they’ve also gotten more convenient than the average pill, with companies like BlueChew offering low-cost chewable versions you can take pretty much anywhere.
Depending on your sex life, these options could prove much more affordable.
Here’s a quick chart comparing the cost of generic Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) per month to the monthly cost of the Phoenix if you finance your purchase at $43/month for 21 months. We’ll use as-needed forms of each medication and assume you’re having sex ten times per month.
|Cost per month
|Cost after 21 months
|10x Sildenafil 40mg
|10x Tadalafil 2.5mg
As you can see, while the cost of a sildenafil prescription begins to creep up toward the cost of the Phoenix after those 12 months, that’s only if you’re using the pills around ten times per month. If you have sex closer to once per week, you stand to save that much more by going with the pills. And with the right tadalafil prescription, it would take another two years before you’d have spent the cost of the Phoenix. You can learn all about prescription options in our guide to ED treatments.
In most cases, shockwave therapy is perfectly safe, especially radial shockwave therapy, which spreads the wave over a wider area than focused shockwave therapy. The Phoenix is a radial shockwave device.
Studies indicate that this therapy produces no side effects, though it’s important to note that these studies used clinical shockwave devices, not the Phoenix itself.6 The Phoenix is a pneumatic shockwave device, so its operation creates a significant amount of noise. At approximately 88dB, it’s a little louder than the average blender or battery-operated drill.
Chronic exposure to such loud volumes can damage your hearing.7 We’ve seen several anecdotal reports of people whose hearing was damaged after shockwave therapy sessions aimed at the neck, shoulders, or upper back, and this study looked at the phenomenon acutely, but it did so for patients with plantar fasciitis, so the therapy was aimed at the foot.8 That may have reduced the intensity of the volume that reached participants’ ears.
Ultimately, as long as you follow your protocol closely and wear adequate ear protection, these devices should be safe. (Many ear plugs on the market advertise up to 30dB of protection, which should suffice in this case.)
That said, you likely are not a urologist or trained to use shockwave therapy devices, so the risk of unintentional misuse is a factor we have to consider.
So, why isn’t this rating a 10 out of 10? Well, some of your site use may sync up with your personal information and end up in the hands of another site if you navigate there directly from the Phoenix webpage. This is typical of most websites, though. Really, the privacy problem with the Phoenix comes from its volume. If you have family members or roommates from whom you’d rather conceal your shockwave treatments, the device’s decibel output makes this all but impossible.
The Phoenix is a handheld low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT) device made by Launch Medical. It’s modeled after similar devices used in clinical settings for pain management and in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The Phoenix is not intended for pain management, but its design and specs make it a useful tool in treating ED without drugs or supplements.
Comparing the Phoenix’s specs to those you might see on a clinical shockwave machine, there are some striking similarities:
|Clinical shockwave machine
|Radial or focused
Launch Medical appears to create the Phoenix and nothing else. The company doesn’t have a site of its own, though it does have social media accounts that promote the Phoenix.
The company is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, where it has an A+ rating. Reviews aren’t as stellar, but the sample size is far too small to draw any conclusions. The company currently has a rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars with six customer reviews. Most negative comments center on devices not producing results as intended.
To be very clear, shockwave treatment is not electroshock treatment. It does not electrically stimulate you in any way. Rather, it provides a pulse of sound waves tuned to a certain frequency and delivered with enough intensity to essentially massage tissues that you couldn’t otherwise reach.9 And the frequencies used in the therapy have been studied to be the most effective for various uses.10
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy has been a popular tool in pain management for some time, with certain forms used to treat injuries closer to the surface of the body and more focused applications capable of deeper penetration to do things like break up kidney stones. As you might conclude, that kind of deep-penetrating shockwave therapy isn’t ideal for penile applications.
Instead, a low-intensity form of the therapy, Li-ESWT, is applied along the outside of the penis to stimulate tissue repair and blood flow in the complex of muscles and blood vessels responsible for achieving and maintaining an erection.11
There are several ways the shockwave devices create their therapeutic output. Some use electromagnetism or piezoelectricity, which are accurate but expensive approaches. The Phoenix uses a pneumatic system to create shockwaves, an approach you’ll also see in clinical settings.
Essentially, a small but powerful motor repeatedly slams a kind of bullet housed in the cylinder of the device against a metal plate. The components are tuned so that the resulting vibration from this impact travels down the cylinder and creates a shockwave emitting from the device’s tip.
Mechanically, this is not unlike how certain pneumatic power tools work, using the kind of rotating mechanism found in some power drills and nail guns. The volume output is also similar, with both the motor and the impact of components combining to produce an output of around 88dB.
Ultimately, the Phoenix is safe when used correctly. Most studies looking into the safety and efficacy of Li-ESWT conclude that it’s safe for everything from plantar fasciitis to erectile dysfunction.6 However, these studies are performed by trained clinicians. No study currently exists evaluating the safety of at-home, self-administered shockwave therapy.
Fortunately, the protocol is simple enough that most men should be able to follow it without difficulty. You should be fine if you stick to that protocol and use the device carefully. Some men find the treatment sessions slightly uncomfortable, and for that, the company recommends either a lidocaine or benzocaine-based numbing product designed for penile use, a small amount of lubricant, or both.13 The company sells its own versions of each, but we also have comprehensive guides to numbing sprays and wipes that are as effective and a little less pricey than what Phoenix sells.
The intense volume output you’ll experience with the Phoenix is also of some concern, as it’s enough to cause some hearing damage over time. We recommend using some form of ear protection during your sessions.
It’s also possible that certain medical conditions, such as Peyronie's disease, could make using the Phoenix more hazardous. There is evidence that shockwave therapy can be used in the treatment of Peyronie’s, but there isn’t enough research to conclude which frequencies would be ideal for the treatment.12
There is also a risk of over-treatment for men too eager for their own good to see improvements. But the Phoenix has a 36-hour lockout that initiates after each treatment to prevent this from becoming a reality. And the LCD on the device displays the number of hours remaining until you can perform your next treatment so you know when it’s time to go again. (You don’t have to leave the device plugged in for this feature to work; the lockout timer has its own dedicated battery.)
The Phoenix isn’t cheap, coming in at $879 — but compared to the cost of the machines used in clinical settings or having a clinician perform regular treatments on your penis, it's significantly less expensive. We’ve seen machines ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 and up. And shockwave treatments for ED can cost around $600 per session. What’s more, despite covering initial visits, some medications, and even penile implants, insurers typically do not cover shockwave therapy for ED.
The company often runs a promotion that takes $175 off that price, bringing the cost down to $704. You can also finance the Phoenix through Affirm, provided you qualify, but whether you can do so without interest likely depends on your credit.
You can also purchase a number of accessories for your Phoenix, some of which serve as replacement parts for things that could wear away with time or improper use. The list of available accessories includes:
There are definitely lidocaine numbing products on the market that are less expensive and easier to use, typically sold as delay sprays or wipes intended to partially numb the penis and extend intercourse. You can read all about the best delay sprays in our dedicated guide.
You can also purchase a penis pump by Dr. Joel Kaplan (he is a doctor, but he uses his Ph.D. more for marketing his products than practicing medicine) on The Phoenix website, but it costs $209 there. You can get the same system from Kaplan’s website for $179.
The company offers a 90-day money-back guarantee, which we think is fair. It aligns with the timeframes outlined in the company’s use protocol, as well as the successful timeframes we’ve seen in some studies. You should be able to tell within 90 days if the product is working for you. You certainly don’t get this kind of guarantee from a urologist. If in-office treatments don’t work, you’re out of luck.
Given the power of the mechanism inside the Phoenix, we had some concerns about durability, but our interactions with users have led us to conclude that durability doesn’t seem to be an issue. According to the manual, a device should be capable of firing about one million pulses in its lifespan, which equates to around three years of functionality when abiding by the included treatment protocol.
The company also offers a 1-year warranty that covers any issues that might arise with its functionality.
In addition to this warranty, which really only covers defects in the device itself, you can purchase an extension through the Phoenix site, offered through a company called ProGuard. For $97, this extension doesn’t add time to your warranty, but it expands on the types of damage it covers, including one accidental damage claim.
Since the Phoenix creates a significant amount of vibration, there is a risk you’ll drop it during treatment, and this extended warranty is designed to protect you against that occurrence. It’s also possible to damage the device by getting it wet, as it’s only rated with an IP22 water resistance, which is only enough to withstand dripping water from certain angles.
Insider Tip: The Phoenix website says you can add a ProGuard warranty at checkout. This is not the case. You can only add the warranty in your cart. But if you hit any of the buttons on the site labeled “Buy Now,” it will send you directly to the checkout page, bypassing your cart. Just hit the “Return to cart” button on the upper right of the checkout page to go back to your cart, where you can add the warranty.
Shipping on all Phoenix purchases is free in the U.S.
We were impressed with the depth of detail into which the Phoenix’s manual goes, and it’s also written in a way that also makes the treatment protocol easy to understand. Additionally, there’s a handy quick-start video on the company’s website.
That said, we’ll attempt to simplify things even further here so you can get a sense of what it’s like to use the Phoenix for yourself.
Over the course of a single treatment, you’ll run the tip of the Phoenix up and down the shaft of your penis a total of five times, each time at a different location. You don’t use it on the tip of the penis.
Here are the basic steps:
If you picture a clock face with a hole in the middle and imagine inserting your penis into that hole, you’ll see the points at which the lines of travel exist. There’s a point at 12, 2, 5, 7, and 10 o’clock. There is no 6 o’clock position, as you never run the device along the bottom of your shaft.
These treatment sessions last about 17 minutes, and you’ll perform them twice weekly for 30 days, then take 30 days off, and then repeat that pattern until 120 days have passed. After that, you can perform a “maintenance cycle” of 30 days once or twice per year.
If you’re researching potential treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED), the Phoenix is one of many avenues you’ll encounter along the way. There are numerous viable alternatives to the Phoenix, but most of them aren’t mutually exclusive to it. You can combine the Phoenix with several other approaches to maximize your chances of success. However, if you intend to combine approaches, we strongly advise you to speak with your physician first.
Whether you might be interested in these as additions to your Phoenix use or as alternatives to it, here’s a quick look at the field of possible ED treatments we would recommend.
Over the course of our research, we saw no end to relatively inexpensive shockwave devices sold on Amazon and other e-commerce retailers. Some of these cost well over $1,000 and boast similar specs as those seen in clinical devices and the Phoenix. They’re just much more expensive and much less portable. Other sketchier models sell for closer to $200. These are either mislabeled devices that have very different specs, or they’re dangerous enough that customer reviews are full of reports of ineffectiveness at best and injury at worst.
Quite possibly, the most obvious answer for many men struggling with ED is a prescription for something like sildenafil (generic for Viagra) or tadalafil (generic for Cialis). Though they aren’t suitable for all men with ED, these drugs have long track histories of efficacy and relative safety, and they’ve gotten easier to get and less expensive over the years.
Many online telehealth providers offer their prescriptions, and you can get them as pills, lozenges, or — our preference — chewables. Compared to shockwave treatments, these may be easier for most men to use.
Despite some cultural misunderstanding leading many to believe penis pumps are meant to enlarge the penis, they’re actually designed to create suction that draws blood into the shaft. In our testing, we’ve found them to be effective options for many men, though some difficulties arise when using models that require water. They also might create an awkward gap between foreplay and intercourse that could prove too much for some relationships. At least with the Phoenix, your ED ministrations occur on your own time, not during a date.
ED and anxiety can create a negative feedback loop in which one causes the other, and they both feed off of each other as the condition worsens. Anxiety-related erectile issues are sometimes called psychogenic ED because they begin in the mind.14 Some men find that by treating their anxiety, they have an easier time getting an erection. Such treatments include prescription anti-anxiety meds and nutritional supplements like ashwagandha or CBD.
If you want to go the prescription route, you’ll need insurance to prevent things from getting too expensive. Without insurance, supplements and things like shockwave therapy may prove more cost-effective if they work for you.
Several botanical or mineral ingredients have been associated with increased erectile performance — most notably Epimedium sagittatum, zinc, and boron. Epimedium sagittatum (commonly known as horny goat weed) can improve circulation and has been effective in some studies.15 The other two ingredients are more likely to be effective if your ED is related to a testosterone issue.
Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Cui, H., Liu, B., Song, Z., Fang, J., Deng, Y., Zhang, S., Wang, H., & Wang, Z. (2015). Efficacy and safety of long-term tadalafil 5 mg once daily combined with sildenafil 50 mg as needed at the early stage of treatment for patients with erectile dysfunction. Andrologia, 47(1), 20–24.
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Cobden, S. B., Cobden, A., Camurcu, Y., Duman, S., Ucpunar, H., & Dagistan, H. (2019). Does Radial Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Impair Hearing Function in Patients with Plantar Fasciitis? Noise & Health, 21(101), 169-172.
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Yilmaz, E., Batislam, E., Basar, M., Tuglu, D., Mert, C., & Basar, H. (2005). Optimal frequency in extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy: prospective randomized study. Urology, 66(6), 1160–1164.
Sokolakis, I., & Hatzichristodoulou, G. (2019). Clinical studies on low intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. International Journal of Impotence Research, 31(3), 177–194.
Wang, X., Liu, H., Tang, G., Wu, G., Chu, Y., Wu, J., & Cui, Y. (2023). Updated recommendations on the therapeutic role of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for Peyronie’s disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Urology, 23.
Trifu, S., Sevcenco, A., Stănescu, M., Drăgoi, A. M., & Cristea, M. B. (2021). Efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy as a potential first-choice treatment in treatment-resistant depression (Review). Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 22(5).
Lidawi, G., Asali, M., Majdoub, M., & Rub, R. (2022). Short-term intracavernous self-injection treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction secondary to sexual performance anxiety in unconsummated marriages. International Journal of Impotence Research, 34(5), 407-410.
Shindel, A. W., Xin, C., Lin, G., Fandel, T. M., Huang, C., Banie, L., Breyer, B. N., Garcia, M. M., Lin, S., & Lue, T. F. (2010). Erectogenic and Neurotrophic Effects of Icariin, a Purified Extract of Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium spp.) In Vitro and In Vivo. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(4 Pt 1), 1518.