Problems with sexual performance are common, and much research has been conducted to identify the causes and possible treatment methods in both western and Chinese medicine. Since causes and treatment of sexual dysfunction (particularly erectile dysfunction) can involve internal organ functions as well as rather drastic treatment measures, western medical practitioners now run tests to look at the patients’ entire state of health. Luckily, traditional Chinese medicine has a large arsenal of methods, many of which have shown effectiveness in the treatment of most types of erectile dysfunction. The natural methods of traditional Chinese medicine are noninvasive and inexpensive, and their success rates increase when they are used in combinations with each other. Due to the holistic and individual approach of traditional Chinese medicine, the degree of effectiveness can vary from person to person not so much because of the diagnosis but individual differences in signs and symptoms in each patient.
The most common types of male sexual dysfunction are erectile dysfunction (<20%) and premature ejaculation (<30%). A western medical approach has become increasingly holistic when diagnosing and selecting best-suited treatment for each individual patient—European Association of Urology, for example, states in its guidelines that “Physical examination and laboratory testing must be tailored to the patient’s complaints and risk factors” (Hatzimouratidis et al., 2010)—but the main reason for this strong recommendation is primarily because erectile dysfunction “shares common risk factors with cardiovascular disease” (Hatzimouratidis et al., 2010), and some pharmacological treatment methods put additional strain on the patient’s heart as well as other organs, and physicians need to know if the patient can handle the strain. The American Urological Association distinguishes three degrees of erectile dysfunction and corresponding different degrees of invasiveness of treatment (including penile implants) (Burnett et al., 2018).
The situation is somewhat different with premature ejaculation. Physicians derive the diagnosis of premature ejaculation from “medical and sexual history assessing intravaginal ejaculatory latency time, perceived control, distress, and interpersonal difficulty related to the ejaculatory dysfunction. Physical examination and laboratory testing may be needed in selected patients only” (Hatzimouratidis et al., 2010). On the bright side, for best results, pharmacologic treatment is frequently combined with psychotherapy.
The traditional Chinese medical approach is always (with rare exceptions) holistic, and the practitioner will need to identify the cause of the problem by comparing the signs and symptoms of an individual patient. While erectile dysfunction, as well as premature ejaculation, can be caused by physical and/or mental exhaustion, making treatment long and difficult, in the majority of cases the cause is an imbalance among internal organs and can oftentimes be corrected in between 3 and 20 sessions.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective for both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation (Tsai et al., 2014). While not much research has been done on the effects of moxibustion on sexual performance, studies have shown that combining acupuncture with moxibustion appears to lead to higher success rates than acupuncture alone (Liu et al., 2017). Regarding Chinese herbal medicine, one study concluded that “Chinese herbs exhibited satisfying outcomes and they might improve erectile function” (Li, Jiang, & Liu, 2017) and specifically selected herbal combinations can be effective in the treatment of other types of sexual dysfunction, such as premature ejaculation (Wang et al., 2019). Research has also shown that qigong exercises can raise the levels of sex hormone (Guo et al., 2018).
Considering that traditional Chinese medicine is a time-tested method of natural medicine, which is inexpensive and has very few side effects, it is a good idea to try it before agreeing to anything drastic.
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