With an extensive career in Emergency Medicine and Telehealth, – Dr. Elliot Justin witnessed first-hand the inadequate and limited resources and research devoted to erectile health and fitness. He joined with Dr. Jim Hotaling, a urologist at The University of Utah specializing in Men’s Health, to address erectile dysfunction, which affects 50% of men by age 50, and increases by 10% each decade thereafter.
Before there is erectile dysfunction, there is erectile fitness. How can the latter be sustained, and the management of the former be improved? With the launch of FirmTech, Inc., Dr. Justin is on a mission to provide two solutions to these questions. The first, FirmTech Performance Ring, with its unique design and soft material has been called, “the world’s most rewarding, comfortable, and safe erection performance ring.” The second and most revolutionary product is the smart Tech Ring, whose sensors will provide objective data to help men optimize and track their erectile fitness, which is often indicative of their overall cardiovascular health.
Today, we are talking to Dr. Justin about FirmTech – as well as how erectile fitness and sexual wellness connects with other important men’s health issues.
How did you become interested in erectile fitness?
After fracturing six vertebrae in a horse-riding accident in 2015, and fortunately not damaging my spinal cord, I realized that many people are not so lucky. This prompted me to review what’s been going on in the last 30-40 years to rehabilitate people who have injuries or diseases that interfere with their sexual performance. There were a few peer-reviewed papers from doctors claiming that they could produce erection in men with multiple sclerosis, or men with spinal cord injuries by direct nerve stimulation with three processes: electromagnetism across the skin, sending a current across the skin, or actually implanting an electrode to stimulate nerves.
Imagine a pacemaker for human sexuality. We tried all of them without success.
So, none of the methods worked?
None, but a prominent doctor in Utah who is now our Chief Medical Officer, Jim Hotaling, heard about my neuromodulation experiments, as well as my ability to successfully raise money for medical companies in the past. He had a concept of embedding a sensor in a condom-like ring to help in the evaluation of ED.
There are 10 or more papers that indicate that the number of erections that a man has at night during REM sleep is indicative – not just associated with – but indicative of their vascular health and risk. In one paper, more than half of men who had a heart attack complained of progressive erectile dysfunction in the year before and it was an even higher percentage for stroke. Dr. Hotaling’s goal was to count these significant nocturnal erections and ultimately create a device that would enable men to monitor their erectile function in real time.
Why is that so important to track?
I’ll pick on myself. I’m 69 years old, so let’s say I had 4 per night, and the average is somewhere between 3 and 5, then okay, I’m normal.
But if I were tracking it the way I track my blood pressure, several times a month at home or in the gym, and I see that the number had dropped from 4 down to 1, I would know that I might have an impending or worsening vascular problem. I need to see a doctor.
Is it common for men to seek medical treatment for erectile dysfunction?
One of the problems in the treatment of erectile dysfunction today is because of the stigma, the shame about ED, and because men are more reluctant to go to doctors anyway in comparison to women, what do men do? They go online, they get pills, but they never receive a basic workup on their health.
Physicians and health care providers are also to blame. Despite being taught in medical school to include a sexual history in their review of systems, they rarely ask patients about ED.
We want to change the conversation away from just erectile dysfunction to erectile fitness. That eliminates the shame, and men want to maintain their fitness, especially as they get older.
So, they could be overlooking a more serious problem?
Urologists often say, “The penis is the canary in the coal mine for vascular disease.” ED can be a sign of diabetes, hypertension and other disorders.
How does FirmTech help men with erectile fitness as well as vascular health?
Worn overnight, our TechRing can count the number of nocturnal erections. Worn during sex, we can measure the duration of erections and firmness. This data can help men and their physicians be better able to determine which medications and treatments are helping, or harming erectile fitness. If I see a cardiologist with chest pain or exertional shortness of breath, they have EKG, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, ultrasound, a whole array of blood tests, that can make their diagnoses more objective and that can track responses to therapy
In general, men don’t go to the urology specialists for ED – they just go online for pills or to their family doctor or internist. With the Tech Ring, men can get valuable information about their erectile fitness in the privacy of their homes, and they can communicate that information to a healthcare provider if there is a problem. We recommend that men with significant ED see urologists for an evaluation.
How does FirmTech work?
The American Urology Association recommends erection rings for the treatment of ED. I think we have come up with the best erection ring in the world – easy to put on and take off around sensitive tissue, soft, adjustable for personal taste or needs. In a small study of 20 men, half even reported better orgasms. We are in the process of studying this in a large trial.
And then we came up with something that was revolutionary. Inside the Tech Ring, we have a pressure sensor, a strain gauge, a small battery, and PCB board. It is Bluetooth-enabled and connected to an app to track the duration of the erection, the power of the ejaculation, and the firmness of the penis.
There is really nothing like it in the world. In this age of wearables, this is the first under-wearable.
How do you think men will benefit from FirmTech?
Wearables for the wrist and for fingers have led to better health habits, medication compliance, more exercise, improved diet, and sleep, for many people. My hope is that something similar will result from men using the Tech Ring. Well, wouldn’t it be great if this led men to pay more attention to the things that interfere with erectile fitness?
And if it motivates people in relationships to have more sex, that’s good too. Because I don’t think people are making love enough. They are missing out on the benefits: happier relationships, less depression, less heart attacks, and more.
FirmTech was founded by Dr. Elliot Justin and Dr. James Hotaling to focus on developing products that will empower mento better understand their sexual health and the impact of medications, supplements, personal habits, vices and exercise on it. FirmTech also wants to enhance performance and enjoyable sex for all men, not just those with ED.
The content featured in this article is brand produced.