Sex is complex. Yet the complexities of sex aren’t talked about often enough. In the media, intercourse is often portrayed as simple, sensual, and tantalizing—with little room for error. However, in real life, there’s a laundry list of intricacies that get in the way of a satisfying sex life: orgasm anxiety, work stress, body image issues, past trauma, erectile dysfunction, age- or medication-related libido decline, and perimenopause symptoms, to name a few.
According to Irina Logman L.Ac., MSTOM-certified acupuncturist and owner of Advanced Holistic Center in NYC, acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that works to balance energy in the body. More specifically, masculine and feminine energy that lives within each of us—or the “yin and the yang.” When yin and yang are in harmony, Logman says, there is a balance. And where there is a balance, there is great sex.
How acupuncture treats sexual problems.
The dictionary definition of yin and yang reads, “opposite forces that are interconnected and counterbalancing.” Logman tells me that, when it comes to Chinese medicine, yin is “female” energy (cooling, calming, and feminine), while yang is “male” energy (anger, fire, and aggression). No matter your gender, everyone holds both yin and yang within them. “Every organ has both energies, and if they’re out of balance, you have issues [in the bedroom],” the acupuncturist tells me. That’s where acupuncture’s relationship to sexual functioning comes into play.
The main yin-yang-inhabited organs Logman focuses on are the kidneys, lungs, liver, and heart. It’s like a ripple effect, she tells me: Each of these four organs holds feminine and masculine energy, and this delicate energetic balance drives an entire holistic body system—a system that’s heavily reliant on emotions. “All internal imbalances come from energetic, emotional imbalance,” Logman tells me. “[And] this comes through during sexual performance because it’s when you’re most vulnerable.”
According to Logman, getting to the root of the issue during acupuncture and addressing the cause rather than the symptom helps heal her clients. If the person above who was experiencing a root-kidney imbalance were to walk into Logman’s clinic, she would address the imbalance by placing thin needles in kidney-associated points along the body’s 12 meridians acupoints. These points would stimulate and nourish the yin deficiency in the body and help the body and mind let go of fear, thus restoring vitality and libido. “After just a few sessions, most people begin to feel a difference,” says Logman.
The science behind acupuncture’s effect on sex.
Acupuncture is an effective salve against these psychological blockades: If anxiety is the main issue interfering with your sex life, one study shows that attending acupuncture “achieves the superior and quick effect on general anxiety disorder as compared with clonazepam [an anti-anxiety medication]” due to the acupoints stimulating positive increases of brain waves in patients. Or perhaps you’re on an antidepressant with the side effect of loss of libido, impotence, or inability to reach orgasm. Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine supports the efficacy of 12 weeks of acupuncture treatments in improving males’ sexual functioning, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, as well as females’ libido and lubrication. Acupuncture can also strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which are key to sexual functioning for people with vaginas, and increase blood flow in general, which makes for easier erections.
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