“Can you help me get my mojo back?” Karen¹ was a tired parent with two small children who was worried about their lack of libido. Here at the Yinova Center we regularly hear from people who are concerned that they have little or no interest in sex. To a certain extent, it’s normal for sexual desire to wax and wane and a low sex drive is often the result of major life changes such as illness, having a baby, or menopause. Karen was delighted to hear that something as ancient and traditional as Chinese medicine has much to offer when it comes to reviving a sex drive. In fact, Chinese medicine associates a healthy sex drive with overall good health, and some of the most famous Chinese tonic herbs, such as Ginseng, are also considered to be herbal aphrodisiacs.
Some of the main problems many people have with their sex life can be divided into four areas
- Lack of desire
- Lack of arousal
- Failure to orgasm
- Pain or discomfort with intercourse
All of these areas have different diagnoses in Chinese medicine and are treated with different combinations of herbs and regular acupuncture treatments.
Lack of libido is usually diagnosed as weak Kidney Qi and Heart blood deficiency. The kidneys are considered to be the root of reproductive energy and the emotions, as reflected by the heart, also play a vital role in female sexuality. So we treat low desire with a combination of herbs that nourish both the heart and kidneys.
Lack of arousal is also related to weak kidney energy but in this case, it is attributed to weak kidney yin. Yin is what gives our bodies lubrication and so at the Yinova Center, we have found that giving our patients herbs that tonify kidney yin can really help them become aroused easier.
Failure to orgasm is related to stagnation and in particular stagnation of liver qi. In Chinese medicine, the liver channel flows through the genitals and the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. Lack of orgasm is related to an interruption in this energy flow. We give these patients qi-moving herbs which seem to help a great deal.
Painful intercourse is also related to stagnation in Chinese medicine – blood stagnation. As in Western medicine where painful intercourse is associated with a diagnosis of endometriosis or fibroids, in Chinese medicine, the pain is attributed to some kind of local obstruction. We give these patients blood moving herbs as well as referring them to their GYN for further investigation.
At the Yinova Center, we start by taking a full history and working out your Chinese medical diagnosis. In Karen’s case running around after two toddlers were making them tired and leaving little time or energy left for sex. They also talked about how separate they felt from her partner now that their lives revolved around their kids. Karen commented that when made the time they both still enjoyed sex but that motivation was an issue. The combination of an emotional shutdown and physical exhaustion was a clear case of kidney qi deficiency and heart blood deficiency. I gave Karen a Chinese herbal formula and we agreed to meet once a week for regular acupuncture. Karen also decided to consciously set aside time for intimacy. Within a month Karen was much happier about their sex life. They described feeling much closer to their partner.
Here’s the advice we give our Yinova Center patients when they come to us for help in reviving their sex drive.
- 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 so can help increase desire and arousal.
- 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 and may be all you need to get your sex life back on track
- 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.
- Exercise – 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.
- 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.
- Set aside time for sex. Although you sacrifice spontaneity by doing this, scheduling time when you and your partner can be intimate can really help a struggling sex life. You can also liven things up by making some changes to your regular sexual routine.
1. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of our patients.