The Elusive Libido

Acupuncture for Sexual Problems
by Lucy Postolov, L.Ac.

As published in October, 1997 issue of Whole Life Times

Weeks before his wedding, a young man came to my office in great distress. He and his fiancee had always enjoyed a healthy, mutually satisfying sexual relationship. Now, in the midst of planning a wedding and buying a new home, he suddenly had become impotent.

“What’s wrong with me?” he lamented. “This has never happened before-until now, at the worst time possible!”

Using the four examinations: looking, listening, smelling and touching, which all practitioners of (TCM) Chinese Medicine conduct at the beginning of each treatment, I found the patient to have a shen or spirit disturbance. His sexual problem was emotionally based, no doubt prompted by pre-wedding stress. I assured him that a series of acupuncture treatments combined with herbal therapy would soon restore his sexual function.

Many men and women experience sexual problems at some point in their lives, and almost all are treatable with (TCM). Unfortunately, our social taboo about admitting to such problems prevents many people from seeking help. Men, especially, suffer emotionally when they cannot ‘perform’ as well as they would like. Many women also are concerned with the lowered libidos that are a side effect of our high-stress lives.

Even people who are willing to seek help often don’t know where to turn. Men experiencing erection difficulties or premature or difficult ejaculation usually consult psychologists or psychotherapists when their sex drive veers to extreme desire or lack of interest.

Both Eastern and Western medicine have their strengths and limitations. Some may need a doctor or psychotherapist, but for others, the gentler Oriental approach can be highly effective in a reasonably short time.

Sexual dysfunction arises from many causes. Sometimes the source is emotional, as in the instance of the young man mentioned earlier. In other cases, the root may be organic. Chronic illness and prescription drugs, including many high-blood pressure medications, are frequent causes of low sex drive in both men and women. Premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause bring about hormonal changes that can either stimulate or diminish the sex drive in women. In the Chinese view, whether the problem is too much or too little sex drive, the primary cause is the same-an imbalance in yin and yang energy.

Restoring the balance
For nearly 5,000 years, the Chinese have used acupuncture to treat the full range of human maladies, including sexual dysfunction. Chinese emperors were renowned for their ability to satisfy multitudes of wives and concubines. Today, most of us would be delighted to consistently satisfy- and be satisfied by-just one partner.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views illness as a manifestation of an imbalance or blockage in the flow of a person’s vital energy or life force, chi. Acupuncture heals by stimulating certain points on energy channels called meridians. This removes blockages, restoring the flow of chi and balancing yin and yang energies.

Western scientists have observed that the acupuncture points reveal a variety of unique bioelectrical properties, and that stimulating them causes definite physical reactions in brain activity, blood pressure, heart rate and immune system response. Herbs and herbal formulas, used in conjunction with acupuncture, work to unblock the energy and eliminate the root cause of an ailment.

Most sexual problems originate in either a deficiency or excess of yin or yang energy located on the kidney meridian. This is the channel which regulates the reproductive and sexual systems.

Following are some of the sexual pathologies that can occur when the chi is out of balance: Yin deficiency in women causes menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats or hot flashes. Yin deficiency during menopause can also affect the sex drive.

Yin deficiency in men can manifest as excessive sex drive or premature ejaculation. Yang deficiency in women often results in low sex drive or lack of sexual response.

Yang deficiency in men is indicated by lack of erection and low sex drive.

Shen disturbance in men or women indicates that the sexual disturbance is rooted in the spirit or emotions.

Male infertility-which is unrelated to sex drive or the ability to achieve an erection-is also affected by chi imbalance or blockage.

It is often said that semen is “a mirror of a man’s health.” During my six and a half years as a consultant at the California Cryobank-one of the largest sperm and tissue banks in the world-I saw firsthand how other conditions, such as medication or physical illness, can affect sperm count and motility. I have found acupuncture and herbs to be highly effective in increasing blood flow, sperm count and reproductive capacity in men.

Traditional Chinese Medicine offers hope to most sufferers of sexual dysfunction, whether the cause is organic or emotional, restoring the free flow of chi.

All of these practices treat the patient as a whole-mind, body and spirit-and help wake up the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Acupuncture treatments generally last approximately 30 minutes, ideally in a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Disposable acupuncture needles eliminate the risk of transmitted disease, and they are so thin and flexible that their insertion is virtually painless.

Most patients see results within weeks, like the young man with pre-wedding jitters. His sexual function fully returned after eight treatments of acupuncture and herbal therapy, and he and his bride enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon. -L.P.