Birds do it… bees do it…. sometimes my patients feel as if the only person who isn’t doing it is them.
Time and time again patients confide in me that they rarely feel in the mood for sex. They miss the connection that sex gives them and feel guilty that they have let this part of their life go, but they also feel tired and unmotivated about their sex lives.
In Chinese medicine sex, in the context of a supportive relationship, is important. The old Taoist sages would say that having sex connects us energetically to our partners. This is known as He Qi which literally means “joining energy” and refers to the way, in a good sexual relationship, both partners contribute energy to each other. By doing this the Taoists believed that it was possible to use sex to increase lifespan and heal the body. I believe that it’s vital for the emotional and physical health of our relationships that we connect with our partners in this way.
Chinese medicine has a long tradition of using acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition to enhance libido. Our Yinova Center patients are pleasantly surprised to find that six sessions of weekly acupuncture can make a tangible difference to both sexual desire and responsiveness. This is because a lack of desire in Chinese medicine can be caused by two things. Firstly, stagnation of qi leading to poor flow of energy and blood which mutes sexual response and secondly, lack of qi which means that we are too depleted to be able to get in the mood for sex. A combination of herbs that boost qi along with acupuncture to help qi and blood flow is a great way to get your mojo back.
Issues that inhibit sex drive can vary. Some people are too tired to have sex and some are bored with their sex lives. Some people find that medications that they are taking make them less sexually responsive and some feel bad about their bodies. Some of my patients have unhealed psychological wounds around the subject of sex either from abuse or from negative experiences in the past. Some of our patients have medical conditions that make them feel less inclined to be sexual. Whatever the cause, a reduced sex drive is a warning that all is not well and I always advise my patients to seek the advice of their medical doctor as well as coming into our center for Chinese medical treatment.
Here are some of the tips we give our patients to help them revive a flagging libido
1. Come and see us for regular acupuncture.
Acupuncture moves qi in the channels around the genitals and so can help with issues related to orgasm. Acupuncture can also gently balance hormones and can increase desire and arousal.
Regular exercise moves qi in Chinese medicine and so alleviates the qi stagnation associated with poor sexual response. Exercise also reduces stress and improves your body image, both of which will help you feel sexier. A study of women* ages 45 to 55 found that sexual satisfaction is directly linked to fitness. According to the study author Judith Gerber, a psychologist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine “The less exercise they got, the lower their desire and sexual satisfaction”. Because exercise makes the blood flow and the nervous system fire, patients often tell me that they have more energy for sex immediately after exercising. Bearing this in mind it makes sense to do half an hour of yoga or qi gong before bedtime to give your sexual energy a boost.
3. Relax and be mindful.
Feeling sexual requires focus. Many of my patients have described to me how their minds wander during sex. If we are busy thinking about our work, the bills, or our shopping list it’s hard to be in the moment and enjoy sex. Meditation can be a great way of training your mind to stay present. Personally, I find yoga to be very meditational and it has the added bonus of being great exercise and increasing flexibility, all of which make it easier to enjoy sex. This article from the Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions about ways to relax.
4. Strengthen your pelvic muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises called Kegel exercises can help you become more aware of which muscles give you sexual pleasure. To perform these exercises, tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping a stream of urine. Hold for a count of five, relax, and repeat. Do this several times a day.
5. Don’t over-complicate sex.
Many of my patients are relieved when I instruct them to go home and have low key sex. Movies, the internet, and books all show us sexual images that may seem unattainable and make us feel inferior. Remember that sex is first and foremost about the energetic connection. Although sometimes it’s great to swing from the rafters, quiet gentle sexual connection can be just as rewarding and less daunting. While we’re on the subject it’s good to bear in mind that sex doesn’t have to be a marathon. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that most couples found lovemaking sessions of between 7 to 13 minutes to be optimal.
6. Chinese herbs can help if properly prescribed.
A specially tailored herbal formula can be really helpful. Many of our patients have reported great success from taking Chinese herbs for their particular condition. Chinese medicine has a long tradition of using safe, gentle aphrodisiacs such as ginseng which may be all you need to get your sex life back on track.
7. Consult your doctor.
There can be structural and hormonal issues affecting your libido and your doctor will be able to help with these. Your doctor can also tell you if any of the medicine you are taking is lowering your libido and may be able to suggest alternatives. They can also check for undiagnosed medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypothyroid – all of which can affect your sexual response.
8. Nutritional supplements that may help.
L-Arginine often works for everyone because it boosts blood flow through the genitals. For people who are anatomically male, this increased blood flow can enhance erection, while for people who are anatomically female it can lead to heightened stimulation. People who are anatomically male can take L-Arginine in pill form, while many anatomically female people report the best results are achieved by applying cream directly on the genitals. We always advise our patients to take a good multivitamin because low libido can sometimes be associated with nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of iron or folate can make you too tired for sex whilst low levels of vitamin E can lead to hormone imbalances which also affect sex drive.
9. The importance of touch.
Skin on skin contact stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytocin which in turn results in a desire to touch and be touched. The release of oxytocin makes us feel good about the person who caused the hormone to be released so allowing your partner to massage or gently stroke your skin creates an emotional and hormonal connection. Oxytocin has been shown to increase both sexual desire and sexual response and thus receiving and giving touch throughout the day is a great way to increase levels of this hormone and in turn, makes you more likely to want to be sexual. Sex itself increases oxytocin levels and thus makes libido stronger which leads us to our final bit of advice.
10. Have sex.
Even if you don’t feel completely in the mood. Just do it. Having sex creates an energetic connection, bonds you to your partner, and causes hormones to be released which in turn makes it more likely that you’ll want to have more sex. So as the saying goes “fake it till you make it”. Have sex even if you don’t feel in the mood, stay present, enjoy the connection, relax, and don’t have too many expectations. Before you know it your body will be back in the groove and you’ll find your desire creeping back.
* Language used in the study referenced.