Consider Acupuncture for Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is an issue dealing with sexual response and disease that encompasses a broad range of problems.  In women, sexual dysfunction may be about pain during sexual intercourse, and spasms of the vagina. In men, it may refer to delayed or premature sexual dysfunction or erectile dysfunction (ED). It may also involve sexual response and desire (libido) for both sexes.

ED typically often affects men 65 years old and over although, strictly speaking, aging is not a natural cause for it. The number one complaint of about 43% of women in the United States suffering from sexual dysfunction is lowered sexual desire. This problem can be physical, psychological or a mixture of both.

Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Dysfunction

-Vaginal dryness
-Difficulty having an orgasm
-Lower urinary tract symptoms
-Loss or lack of sexual desire
-Pain during sex
-Inability to attain or maintain an erection
-Delayed or premature ejaculation

What Causes Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction can be a short-lived or long lasting condition. Its reasons differ and may involve:

-Pelvic fracture or certain types of injury
-Vaginal infections
-Sleep apnea, arthritis, high blood pressure, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain other medical conditions
-Stressful life experiences
-Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression among others
-Drug abuse
-Hormone imbalances
-Use of antidepressants and certain other prescription drugs
-Childhood sexual abuse
-In men, being 65 years of age and over


One of the best ways to tone and strengthen the body’s systems is with the use of herbs. As one ought to follow with any other type of treatment, you need to work with your doctor prior to starting treatment. Herbs can be used as tinctures (alcohol extracts), glycerites (glycerine extracts) or dried extracts (teas, powders, capsules). Unless otherwise indicated, prepare tea with a teaspoonful herb for one cup of hot water. Steep covered for around 7 to 10 minutes for flowers of leaf or flowers; and for roots, around 12 to 20 minutes. For each day, you may drink around to 2 to 4 cups. Tinctures can be used in combination or alone, as required.

The herb vitex agnuse castus or chaste tree can help boost production of hormones in your body, although it needs to be taken for a year to one and a half years for it to be effective.

For men:

Pausinystalia yohimbe or just yohimbe – this herb has a chemical known as yohimbine hydrochloride which is the main ingredient in a prescription medication used to treat ED. Yohimbe should not be taken without the supervision of your doctor since it may be dangerous when taken in high doses. This herb can interact with certain kinds of drugs and may be dangerous for individuals suffering from certain medical conditions. Yohimbe may interact with some types of antidepressant drugs.

Pygeum africanum and Serenoa repens (saw palmetto) – these herbs can help with prostate disease-related sexual problems. Hormonal drugs and blood thinners are some of the medications that may interact with saw palmetto. So this herb should only be taken under your doctor’s supervision.

Lepidium meyenii  (Maca) – Based on several studies, Maca can significantly increase a man’s sexual desire. This herb is found in Peru. Maca needs to be studied more to see if it is safe and if it can treat low libido.

Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng) – this herb is useful in treating ED based on a double-blind study. Subjects who participated in the study took 2 weeks off after 2 months of treatment. This herb is a stimulant and so people with bleeding disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, and hormone-sensitive cancers such as prostate or breast cancer should not take it. Panax ginseng also interacts with insulin and blood thinners and other certain types of drugs. Consult your doctor first before taking it.

Ginkgo biloba – this herb can boost sexual function as well as blood flow. It helps enhance the effects of coagulants (blood-thinning medications). If you have a medical history of seizures, then you should not take this herb. Talk to your doctor first before taking ginkgo.

For women:

Arginine combined with yohimbe – this mixture can help improve arousal in women.  Yohimbe should never be used without a doctor’s supervision. It interacts with a number of medications (especially antidepressant drugs) and may be dangerous when taken by people suffering from certain medical conditions.

Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng) – based on one medical study, menopausal women may find this herb helpful in boosting sexual arousal. People with bleeding disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, and hormone-sensitive cancers such as prostate or breast cancer should not take panax ginseng since it is considered a stimulant. This herb interacts with insulin and blood thinners and with other medications as well. Talk to your doctor before taking it.

A combination of vitamin, minerals, tumera diffusa (damaina), ginkgo, ginseng and arginine – when combined these herbs helped boost women’s sexual desire and arousal. Argnine should not be taken by people suffering from liver or kidney disease or high blood pressure. Ginkgo should not be taken by people who take diabetes drugs or blood thinners as well as people who have hormone-sensitive cancers such as prostate or breast cancer and those with bleeding disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases and insomnia. Before taking arginine or ginseng talk to your doctor first.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture

For millennia, TCM and acupuncture have been weapons used to fight sexual dysfunction. Researches indicate acupuncture to be helpful in reinforcing specific organs, and a lot of individuals do utilize TCM and acupuncture to resolve hormonal imbalances.

Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.

Definition of Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction pertains to a problem happening during a cycle of sexual response that inhibits a couple or a person from gaining satisfaction from a sexual activity. The cycle of sexual response typically involves excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Sexual wanting and arousal are parts of the sexual response’s excitement phase.

Statistics reveal that sexual dysfunction affects a large segment of the population in the United States (about 30% of men and 43% of women exhibit some signs of sexual dysfunction). Sexual dysfunction is one topic a lot of people are not too open to talk about.  The good news is that sexual dysfunction of most types can be treated and it is vital to reveal your problems with your partner and doctor in order to find a treatment for it.

There are actually four categories of sexual dysfunction. These include:

Sexual pain disorder – In medical terms this disorder is called dyspareunia which means pain during intercourse.  Dyspareunia is typically a woman’s sexual problem. Another female sexual pain disorder is called vaginismus. This condition is caused by involuntary muscle spasms felt in the vaginal walls that makes sexual intercourse painful for the female. Vaginismus can come about due to insufficient or lessened amount of lubrication of the vagina and its one main sign is vaginal dryness. Factors such as breast feeding, pregnancy or menopause can cause vaginismus. The etiology of sexual pain disorder is unknown although it can be generated by sexual abuse and rape and other forms of sexual trauma. Some other factors that can cause sexual pain disorder include vulvar vestibulitis (felt as a burning pain during copulation) and vulvodynia.

Orgasm dysfunction – This disorder is not only seen in men but in women as well. Orgasm dysfunction means that one or both partners fail to achieve orgasm or take a long time achieving orgasm after a typical sexual stimulation period. This disorder can be caused by medicines such as SSRI antidepressants.

Sexual arousal problem – This type of disorder can affect the person’s psychology more and can therefore make the problem even worse. This problem is often termed as frigidity in women and impotence in men. In men this problem is known as erectile dysfunction. Sexual arousal disorder implies a person’s evasion or dislike of sexual contact. This can be brought about by conditions such as lessened vaginal lubrication or diminished blood flow.

Sexual desire disorders – This is often due to a male’s or female’s low libido or sex drive. For women this can be due to low estrogen counts while for men low testosterone count is often the culprit. Fatigue, pregnancy and aging are some of the natural factors causing the lowering of libido. Drugs for psychiatric problems can also lessen libido in both male and female.

Sexual dysfunction can often be observed in a person’s individual’s early adult years; however, a person is often embarrassed or do not know what his problem is that can prevent him/her from getting medical attention. Sexual dysfunction strikes more in people who are drinking alcohol or abusing drugs.

Kine Fischler is a licensed acupuncture physician and the clinical director of Willow Tree Wellness Clinic in Portland, OR.

Causes of Sexual Dysfunction

The reasons for sexual dysfunction can be quite complex and can be interrelated as well. Sexual dysfunction causes can be viewed in three categories:

Physical and health factors
Psychological factors
Relationship factors

Physical and Health Factors

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common physical factor of male sexual dysfunction. It can be due to conditions like fractures or trauma to the spinal cord or pelvic area, multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, endocrine disorders, diabetes, sexually transmitted disease or high blood pressure. Alcohol abuse and tobacco smoking can also cause ED.

Hormonal and endocrine problems – Men who have high amounts of prolactin in their body usually complain of lack or loss of interest in sex. Their loss of interest in sex affects their female partner in terms of lessened sexual activity and lowered desire level that can make their partner eventually become infertile.  Certain medicines like antipsychotics have side effects that cause prolactin level in men to rise. Cyclical fluctuations of estrogen and androgen can also affect the sexual drive of males as well as females.

Medication – There are drugs that when taken can affect the neurotransmitters of the body including serotonin and dopamine which can result in sexual problems. A great number of medicines can cause this kind of side effect. These include medicines for the treatment of depression, heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, psychosis and drugs for the lowering of cholesterol.

Psychological factors

Male and female sexual responses are triggered by erotic sensations that stimulate arousal and eventually lead to orgasm. Important in the process to attain sexual stimulation and sexual intercourse is the ability to relax, enjoy and concentrate on sensations. The person needs to feel confident and comfortable about his/her body and the physical changes that occur making him/her more desirable to the opposite sex. Also, the person is required to feel confident and comfortable enough to enable these changes to happen in front of his/her partner. He/she can feel vulnerable when he/she is in a sexually aroused state so that anything that may disrupt feelings of security and comfort during a sexual activity can negatively affect the person’s sexual responses. Resentment, hostility, anxiety anger and low mood can be factors that cause disruption in normal sexual functioning. Psychological pressures occur in stressful situations and mental illness. Past experiences of negativity and religious factors like religious and cultural beliefs, trauma and childhood sexual abuse can make a person averse to sex and repress his/her sexual desires. These psychological problems not only affect his/her sexual life but can lead to relationship problems as well.

Relationship Factors

It is very common to know that certain sexual problems are caused by relationship difficulties. Relationship problems and sexual dysfunction can lead to a vicious cycle where relationship difficulties can lead to sexual dysfunction, which then contribute or cause the relationship problem. Problems in a person’s relationship can be due to factors like cultural differences between partners, boundary issues, lack of understanding to resolve a conflict and poor communication. They all can result in avoidance and pervasive hostility. Some relationship problems that can lead to one partner losing his/her sexual desire can involve the other partner’s medical condition, personality or deviant attitude. One partner may be, for example, either mentally or physically ill, too suspicious or possessive or is having an affair.

Tree of Life Acupuncture
1215 120th Ave NE #206
Bellevue, WA 98005
(425) 732-3201