Low libido can be of primary (when it occurs just by itself) or secondary (when it appears as a consequence of another health condition or its treatment) origin. On one hand, due to the method’s flexibility, traditional Chinese medicine can be an effective treatment component in almost any case, but on the other hand, establishing what exactly causes low libido is crucial. When lab tests show that there is nothing wrong, however, traditional Chinese medicine can be a perfect treatment method. Due to its natural and noninvasive techniques, patients can try traditional Chinese medicine—their acupuncturist (or TCM practitioner) can try several modalities and their combinations before the patients turn to western medical practitioners who will use more physically or chemically invasive methods—and depending on the outcome, the patients can decide what they should do next.
Low Libido and Western Medicine
The greatest issue with such diagnoses as hypoactive sexual desire disorder or low libido is that “there is no scientifically established norm for sexual activity, feelings or desire, and there is no evidence that hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a medical condition” (Meixel, Yanchar, & Fugh-Berman, 2015). At the same time, if lab tests show reduces levels of sex hormones, the problem is called hypogonadism, and it can be diagnosed. Hypogonadism is a clinical syndrome that involves any disruption among the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and testes or ovaries (Richard-Eaglin, 2018). There may be many causes of hypogonadism such as diabetes mellitus, malignancies, obesity, alcoholism, side effects from prescription medication, heart disease, genetic mutation (Kallmann syndrome being the most common among men and women), or even aging among other causes (Sterling, Bernie, & Ramasamy, 2015). As complicated as diagnosing of this condition may be, its treatment is even more, as one group of researchers put it, “controversial” (Sterling, Bernie, & Ramasamy, 2015). One reason is that considering all the possible causes of this problem, the patient may have been misdiagnosed. Another reason is when the treatment focuses on an evening out the hormonal levels, it may lead to adverse side effects. The main treatment method was testosterone therapy, which has shown positive as well as negative effects, depending on the studies (Saad et al., 2020), researchers recommend nonpharmacological methods whenever possible, which essentially focus on diet and exercises, thus to change fat to muscle ratio (Corona et al., 2019).
Low Libido and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine approaches low libido as it typically does and as many types of natural medicine do, holistically, by examining signs and symptoms to identify the imbalance among organ functions that occurs in every individual patient. The treatment approach, in general, also remains the same: to restore the optimal balance for each patient individually. Research has shown that traditional Chinese medicine can “regulate the body’s endocrine and hormone levels” (Lyu et al., 2016), and when it comes to sex hormones Chinese herbs, apparently, have stronger effects in females than males (Farahbod & Soureshjani, 2018). Research has also shown that acupuncture can improve low libido, but the main issue is what causes low libido and how the cause can be addressed in the treatment. Depending on the cause—which can range from purely psychological to the secondary problem—traditional Chinese medicine can be used as a stand-alone approach or a complementary method, and it should be evaluated on an individual basis.
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