Being able to enjoy sexual intimacy, including the experience of deeply satisfying orgasms, are the right of every woman. Even up to the 8th decade of life, women are meant to feel comfortable, confident and sexy. Just before and as they enter menopause, many women find that their appetite for sex decreases. This is often chalked up to low hormones, but vaginal dryness and vaginal pain are hidden yet common culprits of low sexual desire in women.
For those that are hesitant to use hormone replacement therapy, whether systemic therapy found in pills or more local treatments such as creams, gels and suppositories, there is a drug-free way to rejuvenate the sex drive and sensual vitality: acupuncture.
Though no one knows the precise origins of acupuncture, most scholars agree that it first arose in China thousands of years ago. Although it is a medical practice commonly known to relieve pain and improve overall well-being, few women — in the West, at least — know that acupuncture is actually an effective method for enhancing and boosting sexual health.
There was a time when I, too, overlooked the significance of acupuncture in aiding sexual health. As I wrote in The Orgasm Prescription for Women: “When I began my training in acupuncture nearly two decades ago, I was astounded to learn that menopause does not have the same dreaded effects [low sexual desire, vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, and so on] on women in China.
“Studies show that 75% of American women experience noticeable menopausal discomfort, while only 10% of Asian women complain of such symptoms.”
This is encouraging to many of my clients who had nearly given up on the idea of enjoying satisfying sexual relationships as they age. As it turns out, there’s a sound scientific basis for how acupuncture treatment can prove to be a boon for women entering menopause and who are worried that their sex lives will take a major hit. I discuss acupuncture in greater detail in The Orgasm Prescription, but here I will briefly summarize the scientific studies that suggest a positive role for acupuncture in female sexual health.
- Acupuncture for low libido. A 2016 study, published in the journal, Sexual Medicine, determined that 5 weeks of acupuncture therapy was effective in stimulating sexual desire in women who previously reported having low desire. Twice a week, for each of the 5 weeks, the women would have a 25-minute acupuncture session.
- Acupuncture for drug side effects. Did you know that antidepressants like SSRIs can dampen sexual desire and arousal? Fortunately for women everywhere, it’s been discovered that acupuncture treatment can significantly improve libido and lubrication in women suffering from the sexual side effects of antidepressants. Interesting little tidbit: this study focused on using acupuncture points at the kidney, heart, urinary bladder, and other areas. As I explained on the Dr. Oz Show, with acupuncture, the tiny, pre-sterilized needles may be inserted at one point on the body but the energy shift they cause affects distant organs or the entire body and mind.
- Treating vulvodynia with acupuncture. Thousands of women report having something known as “vulvodynia.” Beneath the veneer of this strange word lies something that can seriously chase away your sexual pleasure: vulvodynia is chronic pain near and around the vagina, and can include a burning sensation. Needless to say, if you have vulvodynia then your sex life isn’t as great as it can be! And between 8% and 16% of American women suffer from this vulvar pain. But there’s good news: acupuncture can significantly reduce the pain from vulvodynia, and an acupuncture therapy regimen lasting for 5 weeks (with 10 sessions) improved sexual activity in the women who participated in the research.
- Easing other kinds of genital pain. There’s another kind of genital pain that negatively impacts over 10% of women in the United States and Canada. Known as “provoked vestibulodynia,” it’s called “PVD” for short. PVD is a constant pain in the genital region that can make one’s “lady bits” sore and tender to the touch. It is disturbing that PVD can actually lead some women to refrain from sexual intercourse entirely — it’s that painful. But here, too, acupuncture can save the day (to an extent, at least): ten 1-hour acupuncture sessions for women with PVD resulted in “overall positive effects,” with a lessening of pain in the genital region.
All of this really goes to show that if you’ve found sex to be increasingly uncomfortable because of pain, vaginal dryness, and low desire, the solution doesn’t have to be a “pink Viagra” or some other sort of synthetic drug. Instead, natural healing approaches can be used to give you the sex life you want — the kind of “orgasmic lifestyle” where you get to celebrate your pleasure, instead of shunning sex.
May you continually thrive with sensual vitality,
- Oakley, S.H., et al., 2016. Acupuncture in Premenopausal Women With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: A Prospective Cohort Pilot Study. Sexual Medicine.
- Khamba, B., et al., 2013. Efficacy of acupuncture treatment of sexual dysfunction secondary to antidepressants. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Schlaeger, J.M., et al., 2015. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vulvodynia: A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Pilot Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
- Curran, S., et al., 2010. The ACTIV study: acupuncture treatment in provoked vestibulodynia. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
About Dr. Pennington
Andrea Pennington, MD, C.Ac. is an integrative physician, licensed acupuncturist and sex educator who specializes in mindfulness meditation and positive psychology. Download the first chapter of her book, The Orgasm Prescription for Women, for free by visiting www.OrgasmPrescription.com. Dr. Pennington’s research and treatment of pain, addiction and eating disorders led to the creation of the Attunement Meditation Process and a self-love curriculum as presented in multiple TEDx presentations and taught at the International University of Monaco. Visit her online at www.AndreaPennington.com and www.SensualVitality.tv
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on January 16, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com