“My patients tell me that there are three main reasons why they don't have sex,” says Jill Blakeway, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine and founder of Yinova Center in New York City. “They are too tired, they don't feel good about their bodies, and they don't enjoy the experience due to stress affecting their sexual response. Chinese medicine addresses these causes in a holistic way.”
Out-of-whack hormone levels could be to blame. Acupuncture, in combination with Chinese herbs like rhodiola root and goji berry, can help resolve these hormonal problems—including low testosterone and perimenopause—that could be causing low sex drive in both men and women.
The needles also improve circulation which can have an impact on sexual responses like arousal and orgasm. For example, needles placed near (not on) the genitals have been shown in studies to have a positive effect on erectile dysfunction in men by increasing blood flow to the area. In women, extra blood flow to the genitals can help with sex drive and make them more likely to climax.
Blakeway says that most people see an improvement in their sex drive after six weekly treatments. Then again, some people feel a difference right away. “Everyone and every situation is very different,” says Deborah Stotzky, an alternative medicine practitioner and founder of Holistico in New York City. “But even after one session, there can be a profound feeling of wellbeing, improved sleep, deep relaxation, and these benefits usually motivate people to continue with additional treatments.”
For an at-home treatment that boosts sexual vitality (and energy levels in general), Shari Auth, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine and founder of Wthn in New York City, says to apply medium pressure to the valley between your Achilles tendon and inner ankle bone. While continuing the pressure, make small clockwise circles for 10 deep breaths.
Or, in between sessions with your acupuncturist, Blakeway recommends an exercise she calls “The Loop,” which combines breathing and meditation. You can do it solo or with a partner, but start by sitting comfortably and imagining a bowl of warm oil in your lap. As you inhale, imagine the oil traveling from your pelvis up a tube towards the top of your head. Hold that breath for three seconds, then release it slowly as you imagine the oil flowing back down towards your pelvis. (If you’re doing it with a partner, alternate who breathes in and out.) After about six breath loops, Blakeway says this combination of deep breathing and visualization can help invigorate sexual energy and help couples feel more connected.