Can acupuncture help erectile disfunction?

Q:  I'm 67 years old now and it doesn't affect me so much now but 'shyness' has always been a problem for me. Can accupuncture help me in any way? Also, is there anything that can be done for 'erectile disfunction'?

A: We were asked a similar question about erectile disfunction a while ago, and our answer was:
 

 

I would like to find out if acupuncture will help me having a stonger erection

 

Q:  I am 69 years in good health, I would like to find out if acupuncture will help me havE a stonger erection

 

 A:  We are assuming that your question is about making good a slight loss of normal function (erectile dysfunction/ED) rather than whether acupuncture can be used as a sexual enhancement technique. There are a number of small studies, two of which you can find here 
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14562135
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10098953
 
which give some encouragement to the possibility that acupuncture in conjunction with conventional strategies can help men suffering from ED. However, the studies are small and far from conclusive, so we couldn't give a definite and positive recommendation.
 
As a general comment we would say that there are many reasons why men can begin to suffer from ED. These can range from the simple fact of ageing and the effects of conditions which become more apparent in older age, like mature onset diabetes, or to the problems associated with excessive drinking or smoking, through to the kinds of complex psychological issues which have arisen as a consequence of someone's life experience. Whether acupuncture can offer any help depends a great deal on the background against which the problem has arisen.
 
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is primarily concerned with the restoration of balance and flow in the energy of the body, and there are several distinct patterns of disease, or 'syndromes', in which poor flow or blockage of energy ('qi' as it is called in Chinese medicine) can cause erectile problems. If this were to be the case, and there were other confirming factors pointing to a specific syndrome in the overall diagnosis, there may be some possibility that acupuncture could provide some help. However, if the cause of the ED lies in a pathological condition which means that there has been some permanent loss or weakening of blood supply to the sexual organs, then acupuncture would be less likely to have any effect.
 
Our only advice to you can be to seek the view of a BAcC member local to you and discuss the matter face to face, perhaps offering them a little more background information on which they can give you a clearer assessment of whether they think acupuncture treatment may be of benefit.    
 

This advice still holds good.
 
As far as shyness is concerned, the theories of Chinese medicine address the whole person, body mind and spirit, and as such the classic texts do refer to conditions which would probably not be regarded as treatable in conventional medicine, or if so, belong to the field fo counselling or psychotherapy. We are not knocking these as options; many members refer patients on in a very responsible fashion if they believe that one of the talking therapies can be of real benefit to a patient.
 
However, a key word underlying all Chinese medicine is 'appropriate', and all of the responses of the mind and emotions which can make life difficult are often a normal response gone a little too far. Fear is a very useful emotion, but too much fear paralyses someone. Anger can be necessary and appropriate, but not if it becomes a smouldering resentment which takes over a life. If there are energetic reasons, i.e. patterns of imbalance which relate directly to what you describe as shyness, there may be something which Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture treatment may be able to offer. We have certainly dealt with similar cases, although we have to honest and say that most often these derive from events many many years earlier, and the more deeply ingrained patterns often need one of the talking therapies as the main key to change.
 
There is certainly no harm in asking a BAcC member local to you what, based on a short face to face assessment, they believe they may be able to do for you.
 

Post a question

If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.

Ask an expert

BAcC Factsheets

Research based factsheets have been prepared for over 60 conditions especially for this website

Browse the facts