The improvements were small, and the studies were of varying quality, but preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic herbal medicine and a Korean topical cream may all have desirable effects, researchers conclude in the journal Sexual Medicine, online December 29.
“It’s important to evaluate the evidence for other therapies,” she told Reuters Health by email. “To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review to assess complementary and alternative medicine for premature ejaculation.”
In the current study, researchers evaluated 10 randomized controlled trials that included comparisons either to another type of treatment or to a placebo. Two studies were of acupuncture, five were of Chinese herbal medicine, one of Ayurvedic herbal medicine and two of Korean topical “severance secret” cream.
In some instances, a combination of traditional and alternative options was the most effective. For example, Chinese medicine paired with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increased IELT by two minutes longer than SSRIs alone and nearly three minutes longer than the Chinese medicine alone.
The prevalence of premature ejaculation is difficult to measure because of the differing definitions of the problem and some men’s reluctance to report it. Some studies suggest that between 20 and 30 percent of men report early ejaculation concerns, but the International Society for Sexual Medicine estimates that about 4 percent of men have a lifelong condition.
Some studies, but not all, discussed side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, dizziness, mild pain and decreased libido. When they were reported, the adverse effects were generally mild, the study team writes.
“Nowadays, I am encountering alternative medicine-obsessed patients more than I used to, and it doesn’t make sense to argue with them about the treatment they want,” Serefoglu told Reuters Health by email. “After all, the placebo is a well-known clinical phenomenon, and some of my patients report surprisingly favorable outcomes.”