If you have a penis, there is a reasonable chance that you may experience a condition called erectile dysfunction (ED) at some point during your life. Erectile dysfunction is when an erection is achieved on an inconsistent basis, when an erection does not last beyond short periods of time, or when an erection can’t be achieved at all – all impeding or preventing the completion of sexual intercourse. Once a very hush-hush topic, the taboo of speaking out about erectile dysfunction began to dissipate in the early to mid 90’s when it became recognized as a medical condition with a popular new drug that could “fix” it. However, if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and are unable to take medications for this condition (such as contraindications with heart medications), or prefer not to take a pharmaceutical for this condition due to side effects or other reasons, there is a safe, natural alternative treatment for erectile dysfunction that may be a good solution for you. Acupuncture combined with nutrition, lifestyle recommendations Chinese herbs may be the solution you are looking for.
Impacting more than 18 million, the prevalence of erectile dysfunction has shown to be significant and increases with age. In a study called the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, the number of men (aged 40-70) that experienced combined mild, moderate and complete erectile dysfunction was 52%.
Erectile Dysfunction can be the result of many factors, some that may be serious, which is why it is important to speak with your healthcare provider. In many cases, erectile dysfunction can be improved or resolved fairly easily. Other underlying factors that caused it in the first place can be managed through the temporary usage of prescription medications and then maintained with holistic medicine options.
Quite often there are multiple factors contributing to this condition and both the mind and body need to be addressed as one could exacerbate the other. Here are some examples of what causes erectile dysfunction.
- Health Conditions: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, smoking and drugs/alcohol usage
- Physical Conditions: decreased blood flow, nerve damage
- Mental Health & Lifestyle Factors: stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep or poor quality sleep, lack of physical exercise/movement
- Medications/Drugs: First, you should absolutely not stop taking any prescribed medication without speaking with your doctor. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and are taking a medication that you suspect could be contributing, please ask your doctor.
Most of you have seen the commercials or at least heard of the drugs that are generally used as the first line of defense to combat erectile dysfunction such as Viagra and Cialis. However, this class of drugs called oral phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, don’t necessarily resolve the underlying reason why an erection cannot be achieved or maintained, but they instead override the body systems by inhibiting certain enzymes and changing how/when cyclic guanosine monophosphate is metabolized.
Seems like a simple fix, but many people don’t respond to these drugs, can’t take these drugs due to a contraindication with other medications (such as nitrates) or experience unpleasant side effects like headaches, stomach upset, pain, dizziness and rashes. What is concerning is that lots of people don’t have any idea that they have heart disease – they are not symptomatic and have not been diagnosed or treated. Yet, the most severe side effects to these medications, such as heart attack and stroke occurred in people taking Viagra that had a previous heart-related condition. The lesson here? Everything that plays a role in your heart health is important and should be taken seriously. Regular physicals and monitoring by a healthcare provider is crucial to managing risk factors. And the relationship between your mind, heart, body and sex/reproductive health are significantly linked.
East Asian Medicine, which includes acupuncture, can help with erectile dysfunction. Acupuncture can also help treat erectile dysfunction by addressing many of the factors that contribute to this condition such as improving heart disease risk factors, improving sleep, reducing stress and bringing attention and improved circulation to the reproductive organs.
Though acupuncture and the use of needles has become popular (*needles are never placed on the genitals), true East Asian Medicine always embraces the complete medical system. Using food as medicine, Chinese herbs, lifestyle recommendations, along with proper acupuncture and additional adjunct therapies, erectile dysfunction can be treated and greatly improved.
East Asian Medicine views the human body, mind and spirit from a different perspective. We recognize the complex energetic relationships and pathways within us and in nature. This allows for a deeper understanding of how our delicate system works and is based on thousands of years of observation and patient testimony. This medicine offers a complete picture of how our constitution, familial patterns/genetics, environment, lifestyle, diet, emotions and spirit, all interact and find balance.
Breaking it down even more – East Asian Medical theory is based on some basic principles: yin and yang energy theory, the concepts of how our energy (called qi) behaves, our blood (called xue), our essence/fluid (called jing) and our spirit (called shen). Erectile Dysfunction from a TCM perspective is a symptom, not a condition itself.
The diagnosis in EAM is based on identifying a pattern that shows what energetic and organ systems are out of balance. Common patterns may involve the kidney organ/meridian, liver organ/meridian, heart organ/meridian and spleen organ/meridian.
The EAM diagnosis is determined at the initial intake session, where your tongue and pulses are examined and your health history is discussed in great detail. Once a diagnosis has been derived, the treatments can be tailored to your individual needs and the healing can begin. It may take some time, but the results will be worth it.