Erectile Dysfunction: Precursor to more serious diseases
Whether you are too embarrassed to bring it up with your primary-care physician or you do not consider the problem serious enough to seek help, you may be ignoring an important sign that may be an indicator to other serious underlying health conditions.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient enough to perform sexual intercourse. More than 50% of cases go undiagnosed despite it being prevalent in approximately 40% of men at age 40 and 70% of men by the age 70. (1) In a study that discussed the reason for failing to report ED to an urologist, 74% of the men shared that it was due to embarrassment, 12% thought this was normal process of aging, 9% did not know that ED can be treated and 5% did not consider ED to be a problem worthy of attention. (2)
Many patients who have visited our clinic for treatment for ED have shared that their condition has led them to develop mental health issues such as performance anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem, stress and depression. Sadly, this condition also impacts the mental health of their partner; causing confusion, anxiety and the sense of feeling undesirable. ED can place strain on a relationship and loss of intimacy in a marriage or long-term relationship and the shame and stigma associated with ED can make it impossible for partners to openly share their struggles.
Mental health may be the more obvious symptoms that arise from ED but this article was written in hopes to raise awareness and greater concerns around ED as it can also be an early indicators of more serious systemic disease. As Eastern medicine approaches the treatment for sexual dysfunction in a holistic manner, addressing ED may restore the fundamental health and prevent disease associated with ED such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney disease, prostate cancer, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus. Listen to you body and don’t ignore the warning signs!
Understanding the Pathophysiology of Erectile Dysfunction
In order to understand what went wrong, we must first understand how erections occur. During a sexual arousal (via sensory and mental stimulation), nerve messages begin to stimulate the penis causing the blood vessels in the penis to relax and open up. The blood creates high pressure, making the penis expand and cause an erection. The trapped blood helps to sustain the erection and upon ejaculation, this phenomenon is reversed as the contraction stops the inflow of blood and open outflowing channels. Based on this process, there are 4 ways this could go wrong.
|CAUSES||TCM DIFFERENTIATION||TREATMENT APPROACH AT COMPLETE BALANCE|
|Lacking Libido & Stamina||Kidney Yang and Yin Deficiency||Herbs to nourish Kidney Yang & Yin to enhance sexual desire and performance|
|Unable to receive sensory and mental stimulation due to underlying mental health||Disturbed Shen||Calm the mind and ease anxiety through Acupuncture & Psychotherapy to enhance sexual arousal via sensory and mental stimulation|
|Dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis due to insufficient blood or barriers that prevent nerve messaging and blood flow into genitalia||Liver Qi & Blood Deficiency with Stagnation||Nourish Qi & Blood with herbs and remove stasis through Acupuncture and Exercise to restore nerve messaging and enhance blood flow into the genitalia|
|Weakness of tendons resulting in limp and wilted genitalia||Liver Qi Stagnation causing malnourishment of the ancestral tendon & Kidney Essence failing to be transported into the ancestral tendon||Sooth and move Liver Qi stagnation with Acupuncture and Nourish Kidney Essence with herbs to strengthen tendons supporting the genitalia|
On the contrary to western understanding, the basis of healthy sexuality lies in Kidney channel & organ rather than hormones and genitalia. Kidney is the control center that governs both sexual performance and desire. Deficiency of Kidney Yin may decrease stamina & sexual performance and deficiency of Kidney Yang may result in low libido. If you are in need for a quick-fix, Acupuncture & herbal medicine might not be right for you. PED5 inhibitors like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are effective choices for instantaneous help for genital erection but the effect is temporary. In fact, overuse of PED5 inhibitors without addressing the underlying deficiencies can further damage Kidney Yin, Yang and Essence and this could increase the chance of developing urological diseases.
The best is to combine Eastern and Western medicine as one restores the fundamental health while the other provide instant help for genital erection. If you are willing to give it time and address the condition in a holistic manner, the treatment will not only repair ED for good but it’ll help to improve your overall wellness and the comprehensive approach will also prevent more serious diseases associated with ED.
Common questions asked by patients regarding ED treatment:
- Do you have to needle the genital area?
A. As with most conditions, TCM based acupuncture treatments treat the channels that pass through diseased area (genitalia). Therefore, most of the needles are distally inserted and are located mostly in the feet, hands and head. Phew!!Q. Is Acupuncture necessary to treat ED?
A. Although Herbal medicine can help restore most of the deficiencies & psychotherapy can help address the mental component of the disease, combinational treatment between acupuncture, counselling, exercise and herbal medicine will yield the best result.Q. How long will the treatment take?
A. This depends on your age, strength of constitution, and stage of your condition but treatments generally take 2-3 months to address both branch & root cause.
1. Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: Results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Urol 1994; 151:54–61
2. Baldwin K, Ginsberg P, Harkaway RC. Under-reporting of erectile dysfunction among men with unrelated urologic conditions. Int J Impot Res. 2003 Apr;15(2):87-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3900948. PMID: 12789385.
Hyo Joo Esther Yoo RTCMP RAc (Bio)
Registered TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist
Esther has 12+ years of experience with specific training under world-renowned practitioners, including under Dr. Zhu for Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture for stroke and spinal cord injuries. Esther strives to provide her patients with a high quality and balanced lifestyle.
Prostate Formula (Qiang Lie Xian Fang):
Promote healthy function of the prostate gland by nourishing the spleen & kidney and drains accumulated dampness to protect against the effects of aging on the prostate.
Commonly used to treat impotence, premature ejaculation, and diminishing hearing and/or eyesight, as well as chronic fatigue by nourishing kidney and spleen qi, and tonifying the yin, blood, and yang
Essential Yang Formula (with kidney yang deficiency):
Supplement Kidney Yang and Kidney Yin to improve stamina and improve libido
Vital Treasure Formula (with kidney yang deficiency, qi and yin deficiency):
Excellent yang support for men while also supporting qi and yin and preventing the excessive build-up of fire.
Modern formula for treating patterns of blood stasis in the lower burner to restore blood flow and nerve conduction to the genitalia
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