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Erectile Dysfunction: Its Many Causes & How Acupuncture Can Help
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

While the occasional struggle for an erection is not necessarily cause for concern, a persistent inability for a man to get and maintain an erection hard enough to engage in sexual intercourse, may be a symptom of a medical condition called erectile dysfunction (ED). Another term for this is impotence. It is important to keep in mind that symptoms of ED do not automatically indicate a long-term problem is at hand.

The three telltale symptoms of ED are:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Trouble maintaining an erection firm enough and long enough for sex
  • Little to no desire for sex

For the vast majority of men over 50 years old, it is common to experience one or more of these symptoms. Still, there may also be problems with premature or delayed ejaculation.

Male dysfunction can occur for a variety of reasons. Most causes are physical, but some are psychological and involve stress, depression, anxiety, being unsatisfied with one's sex life, or the mental and emotional reverberations of not being able to impregnate a partner. Sometimes it's a combination of both physical and psychological factors. For example, a man experiencing difficulties in getting an erection because of medical reasons may develop low self-esteem or depression as a result of perceiving this as a failure to satisfy not just himself, but his partner as well. So, while the reason for his ED may have started off as physical in nature, his mental and emotional state can make it even harder for him to achieve an erection.

Some physical causes of ED include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Certain pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. anti-depressants and antihistamines)
  • Certain diseases (e.g. Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis)
  • Medical treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer
  • Trauma to the pelvis or spinal cord, including surgeries and accidents
  • Sleeping problems


And though physical and psychological factors are the biggest contributors to erectile dysfunction, a man's lifestyle choices may also make him susceptible to this condition. They include:

  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  •  Drug addiction
  •  Being overweight or obese
  •  Excessive bicycle riding (may restrict blood flow to the groin)


Currently, there are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications available for treatment. However, they may not be entirely safe and can lead to adverse side effects. If you consult your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner as early as possible, you may reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceutical drugs.

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, many men experience symptoms of ED due to the decline of "Ming men fire." This fire, so to speak, resides in both men and women, and is located between the kidneys. Also known as the Gate of Life and the Gate of Vitality, it provides the essential energy needed to animate our bodies. The nature of this energy is likened to the heat from fire. Without it, the body dies. When it is in decline, symptoms such as tiredness, cold limbs, frequent urination, sore low back or knees and symptoms of ED may ensue.

Your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can design an acupuncture treatment to meet your specific needs, depending on your specific signs and symptoms. It may also be necessary to treat any underlying conditions or diseases contributing to symptoms of ED, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!

About the Author:   Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.