Acupuncture for Lack of Libido

Lack of libido—a loss of interest in sex—is more common in women than in men (a relatively large number of men suffer from erectile dysfunction, but usually this is not associated with a lack of libido). Loss of interest in sex can be due to either psychological or physical causes and can be associated with the following:

  • Alcoholism or drug abuse

  • Depression or stress

  • Serious illnesses such as diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Some prescribed drugs

  • Relationship problems

  • Anaemia (not usually a factor with men)


Obviously conventional treatment for loss of libido depends on the cause of the problem.

Lack of Libido and TCM

In Chinese medicine, and in Chinese thought in general, sexual desire depends on what is called the ’Yang Qi’. ’Yang’ refers to the warming, invigorating and  moving functions of the body and a loss of libido usually—but not always—implies that the Yang Qi is depleted. As well as a loss of sexual desire, there may be a lack of motivation generally, a feeling of cold in the body and consequent desire for warmth, as well as symptoms such as backache, frequent urination and loose stools. In this case the Yang Qi needs to be warmed and strengthened. This can be done with acupuncture and moxibustion.

If the Yang Qi is depleted, it is important to understand why this might be.  Overwork or, ironically, excessive sexual activity can, in time, deplete the Yang Qi; poor dietary choices and a history of chronic illness may have a similar effect, as may repeated exposure to low temperatures.  Obviously any changes in lifestyle which the patient can make to mitigate some of these factors will help.

Having said this, it is important to recognise that whilst deficient Yang Qi is often a factor in low libido, other factors can play a part. In fact each individual is likely to have their own unique presentation, and TCM treatment will take this into account. The holistic outlook of TCM naturally means that treatment will aim to rebalance and strengthen the individual as a whole; body , mind and spirit,  and improved libido will arise as part of this therapeutic process.

Is Acupuncture Helpful in the treatment of Lack of Libido?

Although acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal therapy has been used for millennia to treat problems with libido (including when it is excessive as well as deficient) modern research methods have yet to be applied to the treatment of low libido with TCM. However research has shown that TCM helps with tiredness 1, depression 2, and anxiety 3 among other conditions, and since low libido is quite often associated with such problems these studies, in the absence of more specific research, can be taken as suggestive of TCM’s ability to treat libido problems.


1 Wang O, Xiong JX. Clinical observation on effect of electro-acupuncture on back-shu points in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi . 2005 Sep;25(9):834-6.

2 Wang H. et al (2008) Is acupuncture beneficial in depression: A meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials? J Affect Disord. Dec;111(2-3):125-34

3 Pilkington K. et al (2007) Acupuncture for anxiety and anxiety disorders – a systematic literature review. Acupunct Med. 2007 Jun;25(1-2):1-10


The Sean Barkes Clinic does not claim to cure any conventional medical disease states. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to re-establish and maintain the harmonious function of the human body-mind using tried and tested principles that have been discovered and matured over millennia. A Western medical diagnosis provides very little by way of insight in informing a Chinese Medical diagnosis. Patients usually recognise their own condition in terms of the medical disease category that they have been given by their GP or other conventional medical practitioner. The research presented here is merely an indication of the potential to draw parallels between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine.

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