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Acupuncture For Erectile Dysfunction
May 30, 2022
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Acupuncture For Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects approximately 52% of people between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age who have a penis. It is estimated there will be more than 320 million cases globally by the year 2025. Here we discuss acupuncture for erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection at least 25% of the time. Over time, this condition can lead to feelings of insecurity about sexual performance, deterioration of relationships, depression, and overall lower quality of life.

There are several options for treating ED, including a number of effective prescription medications. Additional therapeutic options for treating ED include penile pumps, psychosexual therapy, psychological therapy, herbal medicine, injection of vasoactive drugs, and penile prosthesis.

There are also natural, alternative solutions that show promise as a treatment for ED, such as acupuncture. This centuries-old practice, which involves stimulating specific energy points in the body with hair-thin needles, is used to help treat many conditions such as chronic pain and arthritis and may also have benefits for erectile dysfunction.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of acupuncture and how it may help in treating erectile dysfunction.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese practice where certain points of the body are stimulated, usually with thin needles. This practice has been used for thousands of years. It’s based on restoring the balance of your body’s chi (pronounced chee) to restore and maintain health.

The Origins of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been practiced for over 2,000 years. The practice entails using solid, hair-thin, metallic needles to penetrate the skin. Once the needles are inserted, they are activated through gentle, specific movements of the acupuncturist’s hands.

According to TCM lore, the human body has over 400 acupuncture points that are connected by meridians, which are pathways in which energy flows through the body. This energy (referred to as Qi, pronounced “chee”) is thought to influence overall health.2 In TCM, it is believed that blocked energy flow in certain meridians is what creates disease. Acupuncture aims to restore the flow of Qi to restore health and homeostasis.

Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for a number of conditions such as back pain and arthritis. Although this is not originally a Western medicine practice, it is available and accessible in most places. If you do decide to try acupuncture, be sure to find a licensed practitioner. In addition, discuss the options with your doctor to make sure it is the right decision for your condition.2

Can acupuncture help treat ED?

Research into the use of acupuncture to treat ED is limited, and the studies so far have been small. These studies have primarily focused on patients with ED caused by psychological, rather than medical or physical, issues. However, some results seem hopeful about the effectiveness of acupuncture for psychological ED.

In one study, participants were tested in two groups. One group had acupuncture in the specific acupressure spots for ED. (For ED treatment, acupuncture needles are placed along the abdomen, hands, and legs.) The control group was given acupuncture in other areas of the body. About two-thirds of trusted sources of those in the group getting the ED treatment showed signs of improvement in their ED symptoms compared to the control group.

Some in the control group were allowed to “cross over” and receive the ED treatments as well. Several of those patients also showed improvement in ED symptoms.

Other studies have had mixed results. The studies done indicate that there may be some effectiveness in acupuncture treatment of ED with psychological and emotional causes, but more studies need to be done.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Erectile Dysfunction

There is some research that suggests acupuncture may be effective at treating erectile dysfunction, but the studies have been small and have mainly focused on ED caused by psychological issues rather than medical or physical concerns.

One recent meta-review showed acupuncture to have beneficial effects on people with psychogenic ED and found that acupuncture combined with the prescription medication Tadalafil (Adcirca) was even more effective at “curing” ED.

Another study suggested that acupuncture combined with psychological therapy may be better at reducing ED than psychotherapy alone.5 Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective at improving the sexual function and satisfaction of patients who struggle with ED as a side effect of antidepressants.

More research is needed to determine whether acupuncture can effectively treat ED, but the current data is promising. It is believed that acupuncture may help to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic region and has stress-reducing effects that can help with psychological causes of ED.

Acupuncture may be especially beneficial when used as part of an integrative treatment approach for ED, alongside other interventions including therapy, medication, herbal medicine, diet, and exercise.

How does it work?

Acupuncture is believed to work by stimulating your nerves, which release hormones, which then increase your threshold of pain. It may also increase the circulation of blood, help regulate blood sugar, and create other health benefits.

Energy pathways through the body allow chi (energy) to flow and heal. Practitioners of Chinese medicine describe acupuncture as a way to unblock pathways and allow subtle healing. However, it is not known exactly how the technique works.

As new emerging technology examining energy flows emerges, we will better understand the theories of energy flow.

The traditional Chinese method of using needles is the primary type of acupuncture that’s been studied for treating ED. It is thought that the release of hormones and increased blood circulation is what helps those with ED.

The benefits of acupuncture for ED are focused on psychological ED. There haven’t been any tests or studies to speak of showing that acupuncture can help ED caused by a medical condition, an injury, or as a medication side effect.

Even the benefits of psychological ED are small and haven’t been studied widely. More research on how acupuncture works in the treatment of ED is needed to prove its effectiveness.

General guidelines for acupuncture

It’s important to find a qualified acupuncture specialist if you’re considering acupuncture for ED or any other condition. They should be licensed or registered by your state. Check your state requirements online before visiting an acupuncturist. Some medical doctors also utilize acupuncture as part of their medical practice.

Check with your health insurance company and ask if they cover acupuncture treatments. Some insurance companies will cover at least a part of the cost.

The number of treatments you need depends on the severity of your condition. However, one study trusted Source used the time frame of four weeks with treatments twice each week. Your practitioner should be able to give you a better idea of how many treatments you’ll need and how often.

There’s no specific preparation for acupuncture, but ask your practitioner if they recommend any type of preparation when you make your appointment.

Potential risks of acupuncture

As with any treatment, acupuncture does have risks, but the frequency of adverse effects is low. Be sure to see a qualified acupuncturist. If you receive the treatment from someone who isn’t qualified, risks can include:

punctured organs
infection
nerve damage
Make sure your practitioner is certified, uses disposable needles, and follows FDA guidelines for needle disposal and sterilization.

Other alternative treatments

A number of other treatments have been proven effective for various causes of ED. Depending on the cause of your ED, making some lifestyle changes may be a good first step. These can include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • quitting smoking
  • exercising regularly
  • limiting alcohol use

Medication For Erectile Dysfunction

Your doctor may also recommend medication. The medication you take depends on the cause of your ED. Some of these medications include:

Prescribed medications like selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs) or phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as Viagra (sildenafil)—especially when taken together—can be effective for PE. Studies have found that combining phosphodiesterase inhibitors and behavioral therapy is successful.

They also won’t cause you to develop an erection on their own. Instead, they just make it easier to get an erection when you’re already in the mood for sex.

There are five PDE5 inhibitors approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ED:

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Your doctor may recommend counseling as part of your treatment plan, especially if your ED is caused by depression, fear, or other psychological issues.

Surgical options can also help ED caused by physical injury or other physical reasons. Your doctor will usually try other treatments first before recommending surgery.

Conclusion

If you have ED, remember you are not alone, and there are many treatment options available that may help in restoring your erectile function and improving your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about which treatments may hold the potential to help you.

If you would like to try an alternative treatment like acupuncture, your healthcare provider can be a valuable resource in offering recommendations and advice. Often, treating ED involves a process of trial and error to find what works best for you. Be gentle and patient with yourself. It is also important to speak openly with your partner to help them understand your condition and manage expectations.

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