What is Erectile Dysfunction?


Doctors define erectile dysfunction (ED) as the repeated inability to achieve and sustain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 5% of 40-year-old men and up to 25% of 65-year-old men experience ED on a long-term basis. This is different from occasional dysfunction, which may occur because of excess alcohol consumption or fatigue, and is less concerning. Failure to achieve an erection more than 50% of the time is cause for concern and treatment.


What causes ED?

erectile dysfunction

In order to sustain an erection, proper nerve functioning and blood flow to the penis is necessary. There also must be stimulation from the brain. Anything that prevents these factors can result in erectile dysfunction. Hardening of the arteries or leakage of the veins can cause this. Local injury or scarring of the penis can also affect the ability to sustain an erection. And emotional factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, may be a major reason. One must also consider if this condition may be a side effect of medication.


What are Western Treatment Options for ED?

erectile dysfunction

Your doctor will review your medications and determine if ED is a potential side effect. Surgery may be suggested if local injury or scarring is the source of the problem. Medications, vacuum pumps, penile injections, or suppositories may be offered. If there is performance anxiety or underlying depression, counseling will be recommended.


A Natural Treatment Option for Erectile Dysfunction

At Integrative Acupuncture, we look at ED and men’s health through a Chinese medical lens. Each individual is evaluated based on this perspective using pulse and tongue diagnosis, observation and questioning. A diagnosis is made and appropriate acupuncture points are stimulated. A specific herbal formula may be used to regulate the diagnoses imbalance.


Chinese Medicine and ED

The external genitalia are seen as an extension of the Kidney organ system, or the external Kidney. This is similar to the skin being seen as an external extension of the Lung organ system. Especially for men of older age, decline of the Kidney energy (similar to aging) can present with certain symptoms, one being difficulty maintaining an erection.

From observation of this problem over thousands of years, common patterns have been seen:


Decline of Ming Men (Kidney) Fire

Typical symptoms include:

  • Failure of the penis to erect or weak erection
  • Cold extremities
  • Dizziness
  • Listlessness
  • Soreness and weakness of the lower back and knees
  • Frequent urination


Downward Flowing of Damp Heat:

Typical symptoms include:

  • Failure of the penis to erect
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Thirst
  • Hot and dark urine
  • Soreness and weakness of the lower extremities


There are other possible patterns that may be diagnosed, though these are the most common that we see.


Conception and Governing Vessels: Meridians for Erectile Dysfunction

In the meridian system of Chinese Medicine, the conception vessel channel is the pathway that runs up the middle of the front of the body, from the genitalia to the face. The governing vessel travels up from the genitalia, through the middle of the back, over the head to the face. Appropriate circulation through these channels is necessary for proper functioning of the organs through which they run, including the penis. Hence, when we use acupuncture, specific points along these channels are stimulated. Though the penis itself is amongst these meridians, it is not necessary for it to be needled directly. If you’ve been wondering about that throughout this post, worry no further.


Contact us for more information, we’re in downtown Montpelier and Williston, Vermont, to learn about natural treatment for erectile dysfunction.