Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Ups Sex Drive & Function After Antidepressant Loss

Researchers have discovered that acupuncture successfully relieves the adverse effects of antidepressant medications on sex drive and function. Acupuncture ups sexual function and drive for SSRI and SNRI patients.Men showed overall improvement in sexual function across a broad spectrum of health concerns. Acupuncture also enhanced relief from both anxiety and depression in the male group. Women benefitted from a more targeted response to acupuncture therapy rather than the broad spectrum of relief experienced by the men. Specifically, women benefitted from increased libido and vaginal lubrication as a result of acupuncture treatments.

Patient taking SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors) for the treatment of depression may experience sexual dysfunction as an adverse effect from the medication(s). It is estimated that SSRIs and SNRIs have a 50% to 90% chance of inducing sexual dysfunction. The researchers sought to determine whether acupuncture may help in the management and resolution of these unwanted side-effects.

A standard protocol for the acupuncture treatments was performed. A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) intake of the health history was taken following by the assessment of a TCM differential diagnosis. Ordinarily, the acupuncture point prescription is then customized based on the intake assessments. For purposes of this study, the acupuncture point prescription was standardized to eliminate variables from the research. The same acupuncture point prescription was administered to each patient over a 12 week period. The acupuncture points used in the study were P6, HT7, UB23, GV4 and K3.

The researchers measured significant improvements in sexual function for both the male and female groups in the study. They noted that, “This study suggests a potential role for acupuncture in the treatment of the sexual side-effects of SSRIs and SNRIs as well for a potential benefit of integrating medical and complementary and alternative practitioners.” These findings are consistent with other research. Researchers from the University of Nevada and Montana State University conclude that acupuncture is “effective for reducing some FSD (female sexual dysfunction) problems….”

In related research, investigators at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan determined that acupuncture eliminates hot flashes and benefits patients suffering from mental depression. Additionally, the researchers concluded that acupuncture increases sex drive, mental clarity and overall energy levels in patients. The investigators note that acupuncture “appears to be equivalent to drug therapy” and is “a safe, effective, and durable treatment.”

Another recent study concluded that low frequency electro-acupuncture improved menstrual frequency and balanced sex steroid levels in women with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. The sex steroid levels in the electro-acupuncture group improved significantly, acne markedly decreased and menstrual regularity increased. In yet another study, acupuncture was found effective in alleviating schizophrenia and the side effects of psychiatric medication. Acupuncture caused a decrease in the “side effects of antipsychotic medication; decreased auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations; decreased anxiety and paranoia; improved sleep patterns… increased motivation including increased sex drive and ambition to further themselves in education and work; improved socialization and concentration… reduced addictive behavior in relation to alcohol and cigarettes; improved diet and weight loss; and improved exercise regimes.”

The extensive body of research on acupuncture and its effects on sexual function and sex steroid levels shows a positive correlation between acupuncture treatments and improved clinical outcomes. The new study of acupuncture for the treatment of sexual dysfunction caused by SSRI and SNRI side-effects went so far as to suggest an integrative medical model based on the findings. The investigators noted that there is a “potential benefit of integrating medical and complementary and alternative practitioners.” This new way of looking at medicine as a cooperative pooling of resources focused on positive patient outcomes is perhaps the medical model of the future.

Khamba, Baljit, Monique Aucoin, Millie Lytle, Monica Vermani, Anabel Maldonado, Christina Iorio, Catherine Cameron et al. "Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction Secondary to Antidepressants." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).

Acupuncture and Female Sexual Dysfunction: A Time-Series Study of Symptom Relief. Alice Running, Julie Smith-Gagen, Mary Wellhoner, and George Mars. Medical Acupuncture. doi:10.1089/acu.2011.0867.

Paley CA, Johnson MI, Tashani OA, Bagnall AM. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007753. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007753.pub2.

Lee H, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Acupuncture for the relief of cancer- related pain-A systematic review. European Journal of Pain 2005;9 (4):437–44.

Elizabeth Jedel, Fernand Labrie, Anders Odén, Göran Holm, Lars Nilsson, Per Olof Janson, Anna-Karin Lind, Claes Ohlsson, and Elisabet Stener-Victorin. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenismand oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 300: E37–E45, 2011.

Ronan P, Robinson N, Harbinson D, Macinnes D. A case study exploration of the value of acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia: results and future study design.. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2011 May;9(5):503-14. Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK.