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How can Chinese Medicine promote a healthy sex life

Having a fulfilling and healthy sex life is important for our physical and mental health and powerful for our personal growth. It depends on many different aspects including your physical state and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, we will take a look at how Chinese medicine can help us with difficulties we might experience. Let’s first understand the basic principle of TCM to see how this is connected with our sexuality.

Chinese Medicine and the principle of Yin & Yang

Chinese medicine is based on the theory that all imbalances and illnesses are due to a disturbance in Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces but interdependent and they attract and complement each other.

Yin is feminine and stands for: black, dark, passive, the moon, cold, soft, receptive, sensitive and quiet.

Yang on the other side is masculine and represents: white, light, fire, creativity, warm, rich, hard, penetrating and active.

They both form a unity and everything in the universe can be seen through this perspective.

When you look at a hill, you will see a side exposed to the sun and another part in the shadow. Yang presents here the sunny part and Yin the shady side. In the transformation from day and night, the day is yang and active, bright and dynamic and the night associated with yin as it is passive, dark and calm. Yang will go over in Yin and Yin goes over in Yang.

Every single thing is going through this process of constant change and transformation. One cannot exist without the other.

Yin & Yang and their role in Sexual Health

In sexuality, two people meet to express and experience themselves as one. They want to complement each other to enjoy pleasure, closeness and intimacy. Yin and Yang meet here to form a unity and then will separate again. Yin is the receptive, soft, passive and lubricating part and Yang the penetrating, hard and active one.

In each organ, a Yin and Yang part is represented and the organs most important for having a healthy sex life are the kidneys, liver and the heart.

The kidneys organ system consists of the kidney Yin, kidney Yang and kidney Essence. The Essence, also called jing, is inherited by our parents and considered to be the base for development, and human growth and vitality. In effect, the kidneys are the root of life and they influence our fertility, vital force, ageing, sexual vitality and procreative ability in men.

The heart governs blood, controls the blood vessels and sweating and is responsible for bringing oxygenated blood to all parts in the body. The heart hosts the mind “shen” which relates to spirit and mental health. If the mind “shen” is anchored in the heart we can experience joy, pleasure and open our heart to others.

The liver meridian (energy pathway) is circling the external genitals and goes through the chest and one of the main tasks of the liver is to ensure a smooth flow of Qi in the body.

All the organs are interconnected to each other and cannot properly function when one is out of balance, and therefore counteractive towards a healthy sex life.

The most common sexual problems women are experiencing are:

  • Lack of sexual desire or low libido
  • Lack of arousal
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Painful intercourse

Lack of sexual desire or low libido

Even when a healthy sex life is desired, low libido is often experienced due to a deficient kidney yang in combination with the heart yang. As a result, we experience too much cold and can feel slightly depressed, the kidney Yangs function to ignite the sexual fire is impaired. It can be accompanied by feelings of exhaustion and tiredness, spontaneous sweating, breathlessness, infertility, under-functioning thyroid, cold feet and lower back, nocturia, lower backache, abdominal distention and fullness, and water retention in the feet and around ankles. This state has usually developed over a longer period of time.

Possible reasons for having a deficient kidney Yang:

  • Diet: Too much raw foods, ice-cooled foods and drinks, sugar, refined carbohydrates, yoghurt, cow milk products, soft drink, soy milk products, black tea, green tea.
  • Excessive physical work and exercise.
  • Chronic illnesses e.g. Hypothyroidism
  • Inherited poor constitution.
  • Chronic anxiety.

Foods that strengthen kidney-Yang:

  • Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon
  • Sardines, salmon, squid
  • Quinoa, oat, whole grain rice, wild rice, black rice
  • Walnut, chestnut
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Red wine (just here and there a glass)
  • Pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil (not roasted)

Eat regularly, never skip any dishes, prefer warm foods out of the oven, cooked and stir-fried.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Tonify and warm kidney and heart yang
  • Promote the transformation of fluids

When lack of arousal hinders a healthy sex life

A lack of arousal can be experienced when the kidney Yin and kidney Essence is weak, often accompanied by heart Yin deficiency. You might still have a desire for sex but with the missing physical stimuli needed for a healthy sex life. Then the body lacks moisture it can show up in vaginal dryness. Depending on how long the deficiency has existed, other symptoms can occur as well like: dizziness, tinnitus, depression, poor memory, lower backache, night sweating and dry mouth during the night.

Possible reasons for having a deficient kidney Yin:

  • Diet: Foods poor in minerals, fast food, plenty of coffee, regular consumption of spicy and fried foods, alcohol.
  • Overwork over a period of several years.
  • Stress, lack of sleep, spending too much time in front of the TV and notebook.
  • Strong bleeding during pregnancy, birth and period or during operation.
  • Excessive sexual activity, especially during the teenage years.
  • Overconsumption of Chinese herbs that strengthen kidney Yang.
  • Chronic anxiety and worry.

Foods that strengthen kidney-Yin and kidney essence:

  • Algae
  • Amaranth, millet
  • Black beans, green beans and kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, mulberry
  • Coconut meat and milk
  • Olive oil
  • Raisins, dates, black grapes
  • Black sesame, chia seeds
  • Sesame oil
  • Shiitake (mushrooms)
  • Soy sauce (Tamari or Shoyu)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tempeh
  • Sardines, white fish, oyster
  • Wheat grain tea

Your preference should be for foods that are steamed, blanched or boiled in water.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Tonify kidney Yin and heart Yin
  • Calm the mind
  • Clear heat if necessary

Conclusion: Give your body time to rebuild kidney Yin and kidney Yang. It takes patience but pays out in the long run for your health and sexual life.

Difficulty achieving orgasm

The inability to achieve sexual climax can be a result of a stagnant liver Qi. If the liver Qi stagnation occurs in the meridian it can lead to a decline of arousal in the breasts and difficulties to achieve an orgasm. Other symptoms that might appear are melancholy, moodiness, feeling of a lump in the throat, irregular periods, premenstrual tension, cold hands, feeling of distention in the chest or abdomen, tender breasts before period and feeling easily irritable and aggressive.

Possible reasons for having a stagnant liver Qi:

  • Diet: Too much meat, heavy and grilled foods, fast food and convenience products, overconsumption of: spicy foods, cinnamon, chai tea, garlic, sweets, coffee.
  • Eating too quickly. Overeating.
  • Excessive demands and overwork, the pressure to perform.
  • Not enough movement.
  • Stress over a long period of time.
  • Too much alcohol and some medications and contraceptives.
  • The most common symptom is excessive emotions like recurrent feelings of anger, resentment and frustration.

Foods that promote a smooth liver Qi flow:

  • Saffron, turmeric
  • Cider vinegar
  • Eggplants, artichoke, turnip cabbage, green cabbage, beetroot, radish, celery, olives, sprouts
  • Plums
  • Fresh green herbs like basil, cress, mint, chive
  • Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil
  • Teas like orange flower blossom, rose flower tea, dandelion, peppermint and jasmine

Don’t eat under stress, avoid heavy and greasy dishes, too much alcohol, grilled and deep-fried foods.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Move liver Qi
  • Smooth the liver

Painful intercourse

Pain during sexual intercourse can put a strain on a relationship. Some women experience pain during sex as their vagina is too dry. Then all the advice above for a weak kidney Yin apply.

Other women have very tight vaginal muscles, also called vaginismus. In this state, they are unable to relax these muscles and consequently, penetration cannot happen. Sexual and physical traumas can lead to this condition. In this case, food cannot offer a solution, however, acupuncture has shown good results by balancing the Yin and Yang via liver and pericardium points.

In addition, trauma therapy and Bach flower remedies can help to overcome the trauma. Some Bach flower remedies that have shown good results are Crab Apple, Larch, Rock Rose, Star of Bethlehem, Vine, Walnut and Water Violet.

Some women diagnosed with endometriosis and fibroids experience painful intercourse as well. In their case, it is due to blood stagnation combined with other imbalances.

Please find more ideas about what to eat and to avoid in my articles:

Fibroid Diet – Best and Worst Foods to eat

Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of

In my practice, I advise my patients on the use of herbs and acupuncture that encourages blood circulation, invigorates blood, clears heat and moves the liver Qi. Food alone cannot bring a solution when the diseases are already too advanced but it is crucial for the positive course of treatment. Women with fibroids and endometriosis must be accompanied by a Gyn.

Any questions? Get in contact with me and let’s discuss together how I can help you.

Also have a look at my article 5 Foods that Boost your Sex Drive”

About the author Carina Greweling

She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacrale therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.

Some resources:

Vaginismus Successfully Treated with Chinese Medicine – A Case Study

The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text by Giovanni Maciocia CAc( Nanjing)