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Alternative and Natural Therapies Used for Treating Sexual Dysfunction

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Sexual dysfunction is defined as a difficulty in having a sexual response or desire and it encompasses a diverse set of problems. For women, sexual dysfunction may include pain during sexual intercourse or spasms in the vagina. Sexual dysfunction for men may mean delayed or premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction (ED). For both sexes, it may involve issues with sexual response or desire (libido).

About 44% of women experience low sexual desire. This low libido may have a physical or psychological basis or it may be due to both. ED is the number one reason for male sexual dysfunction and it usually affects men who are past the age of 65. ED, however, is not related to age since it can strike men of all ages.

Signs and Symptoms

-Dryness of the vagina

-Difficulty achieving orgasm

-Urinary tract issues

-Poor or absence of libido

-Pain during sex

-Inability to achieve or maintain an erection – erectile dysfunction

-Delayed or premature ejaculation in men


Sexual dysfunction can be a transient condition or may be a longstanding issue. Causes include

-Injury such as fracture of the pelvis

-Vaginal infections

-Medical condition such as sleep apnea, arthritis, high blood pressure, coronary heart problems, and diabetes

-Stressful experiences

-Psychological problems such as anxiety or depression

-Drug abuse

-Hormone imbalances

-Prescription drugs such as antidepressants

-Childhood sexual abuse

-Aging in men especially if they reach 65 years of age

Alternative and Complementary Treatments

Alternative therapies can be used if the sexual dysfunction is due to anxiety, depression, hormonal irregularities, or poor blood circulation. In order to get the best treatment make sure that the alternative therapy practitioner treating you is an experienced and licensed (if required by the state) professional. Make sure that you tell your mainstream physician or healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, and herbs that you are taking. A lot of them can interact with each other and have side effects as well. These recommendations apply to both men and women patients.

Supplements and Nutrition

L-arginine – Studies have indicated that this supplement is known to help men suffering from ED. Some of the studies suggested that a lower dose of L-arginine combined with pycnogenol is effective in treating ED. More studies are recommended. L-arginine is contraindicated for people who are currently taking diabetes drugs or blood thinners, and for men who have liver disease, kidney disease, or high blood pressure. This substance can aggravate a herpes condition and may interact with Viagra (sildenafil) and other ED drugs as well as with heart disease drugs such as nitrates. Pycnogenol, on the other hand, is contraindicated for people suffering from autoimmune diseases.

Essential fatty acids – These include borage oil, fish oil, and evening primrose oil. They basically work to enhance circulation. If taken along with blood thinning mediations such as aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or warfaring (Coumadin), these fatty acids may up the likelihood of bleeding. Consult with your doctor if you plan to take essential fatty acid supplements, especially if you have a medical history of seizures.

Vitamin C – Helpful for both men and women since it can boost circulation. Studies have indicated that Vitamin C can actually improve a woman’s libido.


Herbs have the ability to tone and enhance the systems of the body. You need to work with your doctor when you intend to take these products. Herbs can come in various forms (tinctures or alcohol extracts, glycerites, or in dread extracts such as teas, powders or capsules).

Chaste tree – This herb has the capacity to help restore balance to your hormones although it requires long term use (a year to one year and a half) for it to be effective.

For women:

As a precaution, all the following herbs should only be used only after the advice of your doctor.

Several studies have shown that a combination of turnera diffusa (damaina), ginkgo, ginseng, and arginine can help boost sexual desire in women. As mentioned a while ago, arginine should not be used for individuals who are presently taking diabetes drugs or blood thinners and is contraindicated for people with liver or kidney disease or for those with high blood pressure. Considered a stimulant, ginseng should not be taken by people suffering from bleeding disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, or for people with prostate or breast cancer and other hormone-sensitive cancers. Ginseng does not go well with certain drugs including insulin and blood thinners.

Yohimbe – Sexual arousal may be boosted with this herb especially if it’s combined with arginine. Yohmibe interacts with a number of medications especially with antidepressant drugs and should not be used by people with certain medical issues.

Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng) – One study has suggested that this herb can help boost the sexual arousal in menopausal women. Ginseng may not be proper for people with prostate cancer, breast cancer, other hormone-sensitive cancers, bleeding disorders, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, and insomnia. Like arginine, Ginseng can interfere with insulin, blood thinners and other drugs.

For men:

As a precaution, all these herbs should only be used only after the advice of your doctor.

Pygeum africanum and saw palmetto – If prostate cancer is causing you sexual problems this combo can help. Saw palmetto may interfere with hormonal drugs, blood thinners and with other medications.

Ginkgo biloba – Helps boost blood flow and sexual function. Ginkgo is contraindicated for people with a past history of seizures and may interfere with the effects of anticoagulants or blood-thinning drugs.

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) – Known to increase male sexual desire, Maca is an indigenous plant found in Peru used to treat male impotence for thousands of years. It has been shown to increase libido as well.

Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng) – Good for ED, based on the results of a double-blind study. As a stimulant, Ginseng should not be taken by people with prostate or breast cancer and other hormone-sensitive cancers as well by people with bleeding disorders, heart disease, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, and insomnia. It can interact with insulin, blood thinners and other drugs.

Yohimbe – The active ingredient of this herb is yohimbine hydrochloride, which is a substance found in a prescription medication for ED. Yohimbe can interfere antidepressant drugs and should not be taken by people with certain medical problems. High doses of this herb may be dangerous.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

These two Eastern modalities have been around for more than 4,000 years and are widely known to be extremely effective for the treatment of sexual dysfunction in both genders. Studies have indicated that acupuncture can help restore the normal function of certain body organs. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are widely used to rectify hormonal imbalances that may or may not be related to sexual function.

Meditation and Yoga

These two Eastern passive activities can mitigate the effects of stress and alleviate anxiety related to sexual dysfunction.


Massage is widely known to help relieve stress in both the mind and body.


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


Written by Valerie

December 2nd, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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