Acupuncture for erectile dysfunction is a treatment many men may be unaware of. Alternative medicine treatments have been shown to have significant benefits for those with ED. Erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million men in the United States, and 1 in 10 men are estimated to have erectile dysfunction at some point in their lifetime.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) happens when a man cannot get or hold an erection for sexual intercourse. Although many believe it is just a psychological problem or not attracted to the other person, it can also be caused by physical problems.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction:
- High cholesterol
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Heart and vascular disease
- Diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis
- Unbalanced hormone levels (especially low testosterone)
- Recreational drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications
- Anxiety, stress, and depression
- Medical treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer
- Sleeping issues
- Trauma to the spinal cord or pelvis
- Excessive bike riding (potentially restricting blood flow to the groin)
A western medical doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, prescription medications, or counseling to aid in issues with erectile dysfunction.
Western medical treatments for erectile dysfunction:
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Regular exercise
They may also recommend surgery if the cause of the erectile dysfunction was from trauma such as from another surgery or an accident. However, this option isn’t usually recommended unless absolutely necessary. Fortunately, acupuncture is also a viable option for patients with erectile dysfunction.
Acupuncture & Erectile Dysfunction
Acupuncture works for erectile dysfunction, like with most conditions, by stimulating the nerves which release the self-healing hormones in the body. In the case of erectile disfunction specifically, acupuncture increases blood flow which ultimately helps in getting and maintaining an erection in the physical sense. Acupuncture aids in the possible psychological issues surrounding erectile dysfunction, and this is where the treatment is focused other than blood flow. In traditional Chinese medicine, symptoms of erectile dysfunction are due to a decrease in “Ming Men Fire”, located between the kidneys also called the Gate of Vitality.
Effectiveness of acupuncture for erectile dysfunction:
- Acupuncture affects the central nervous system while also calming the stress and anxiety that can lead to psychological erectile dysfunction.
- Studies show participants reporting improvements in their overall sexual health and performance.
- Since TCM treats the whole person, this can be valuable in something like erectile dysfunction which can be both physical and mental.
Acupuncture Points for Erectile Dysfunction:
There are a wide variety of acupuncture point combinations, including auricular points, that are beneficial for erectile dysfunction.
- UB31 – Upper Bone Hole – Shang Liao – located on the sacrum at the midpoint of the PML and PSIS. It is used for genital and urinary related disorders such as impotence, erectile dysfunction, seminal emission, and genital pain in men.
- SP6 – Three Yin Intersection – Sanyinjiao – located 3 cun above the tip of the medial malleolus on the posterior border of the tibia. Regarding erectile dysfunction, it is used for tonifying Yin and Blood, and male sexual issues.
- ST27 – Great Gigantic – Daju – located 2 cun lateral to the Anterior Median Line level with CV5. It is used for a multitude of genitourinary problems in men such as erectile dysfunction, seminal emission, premature ejaculation, and difficult urination.
- ST29 – Return – Guilai – located 2 cun lateral to the Anterior Median Line level with CV3. Regarding erectile dysfunction, it is used for impotence and seminal emission.
- ST30 – Surging Qi – Qichong – located 2 cun lateral to the Anterior Median Line level with CV2. Regarding erectile dysfunction, it is used to regulate the genetalia.
- UB35 – Meeting of Yang – Hui Yang – located .5 cun lateral to the GV line on either side of the tip of the coccyx bone. Regarding erectile dysfunction, it is used for impotence and swelling in the genitals.
Auricular Acupuncture Points:
- Pelvic Cavity – regarding erectile dysfunction, this point is useful for impotence and pelvic inflammation.
- External Genitalia – regarding erectile dysfunction, this point is useful for inflammation of the external genitalia, sexual dysfunction, inflammation of the scrotum, and impotence.
- Endocrine – regarding erectile dysfunction, this point is useful for endocrine dysfunctions, urogenital diseases, and impotence.
- Testis – regarding erectile dysfunction, this point is useful for eczema of the scrotum, impotence, and sexual dysfunction.
Evidence of these points being used are in various small studies in the last couple of decades. Although limited studies have been done on acupuncture for erectile dysfunction in recent years, there are studies such as the ones below that have shown promising results.
- The goal of this analysis was to review the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction studies that were reviewed were ones where acupuncture was used for erectile dysfunction both alone and in combination with standard treatments.
- The systematic review gathered data from 22 randomized control trials, with 14 of them involving psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Better results were identified for individuals with erectile function when acupuncture was used, along with either medication or herbal medicine compared to medication or herbal medicine alone.
Cerebral Activity Changes in Different Traditional Chinese Medicine Patterns of Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction Patients, 2015:
- The goal of this study was to investigate the differences in cerebral activity in erectile dysfunction patients with varying TCM patterns.
- 27 healthy patients and 27 erectile dysfunction patients were involved in the study, and each participant went through a fMRI scan in their resting state. The fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation was used to monitor brain activity differences and changes in erectile dysfunction patients with different TCM patterns.
- When comparing the two groups, the erectile dysfunction patients showed increased cerebral activity in the insula, cerebellum, orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, middle cingulate cortex, and globus pallidus.
- This study concluded that erectile dysfunction patients with varying TCM patterns showed different brain activities. Those with liver-qi stagnation and spleen deficiency pattern and kidney-yang deficiency pattern had differences in cerebral activity mainly in the emotion-related regions of the brain including the cingulated and prefrontal cortex.
While it is true that the research thus far on acupuncture for erectile dysfunction is minimal and mainly focused on erectile dysfunction caused by psychological issues, the results have been encouraging and lend room for larger studies in the future.
Acupuncture Treatment for ED
The benefits of acupuncture for erectile dysfunction are currently focused on psychological erectile dysfunction. There is room for improvement in studies on the benefits of psychological erectile dysfunction, as well as any studies at all on erectile dysfunction caused by a medical condition.