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For many couples, trouble in the bedroom is still a taboo topic. However, problems related to sex life are more common than we realize. Issues in one’s sex life or the inability to perform in bed, regardless of gender, affect relationships and affect an individual’s self-confidence. Be it premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, or vaginismus, there can be several impediments to having a good sexual life. It is important to not lose hope and seek expert advice without embarrassment when one is facing any issue.
When exactly can one say that they are suffering from sexual dysfunction? Well, if there is a persistent problem that one faces in terms of sexual response or pleasure, one might be suffering from sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction can occur at any stage of the sexual act. Here are a few common ones:
Even today, most people are guarded about their sexual health. Also, there is a lack of systematic surveillance of these disorders, it is rather difficult to gather data on sexual health. However, studies conducted on a small scale suggest that only 2% of men between 40 and 50 years report erectile dysfunction; it is more common in older men between the ages of 60 and 70 years. The prevalence rates of disorders in women are currently unknown.Shepardson, R. and M. Carey, “Sexual Dysfunctions”, 2021.
The ancient ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita, states that the three cornerstones of a healthy life are: a well-balanced diet, proper sleep, and healthy sex life.Dalal, P. K., Adarsh Tripathi, and S. K. Gupta. “Vajikarana: Treatment of sexual dysfunctions based on Indian concepts.” Indian Journal of psychiatry 55, no. Suppl 2 (2013): S273. Ayurveda divides the sexual response cycle into the following stages:
Yes. Sexual dysfunction is common in both men and women. In fact, sexual dysfunction is more prevalent in women than men. Almost 43% of women and 31% of men report symptoms of sexual dysfunction. While men complain of:
women seek medical advice for:
In men, clinically speaking, the stages of sexual function are
So, what exactly happens during these stages?
The initial phase of penile erection occurs in response to visual, olfactory, imaginative, or genital stimulation. During an erection, there is increased blood flow to the erectile tissues in the penis. Ejaculation is dependent on the sympathetic nerves, which are the nerves that prepare our body to deal with stress. These nerves cause the muscles in the vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostrate to contract. This results in the emission of semen.deGROAT, WILLIAM C., and AUGUST M. BOOTH. “Physiology of male sexual function.” Annals of internal medicine 92, no. 2_Part_2 (1980): 329-331.
There are three principal stages of sexual function in women:
During arousal, blood flow increases to the internal and external genitalia, including the vagina, labia minora, clitoris, pelvic floor, and uterus. This causes heightened sensations. The vaginal canal is moistened and lubricated. Finally, rhythmic contractions of the uterus and pelvic floor occur during orgasm. Like in men, the sexual activity in women also depends largely on the sympathetic nervous system. It is also important to note that several hormones play an important role in female sexual function.Marthol, H., and M. J. Hilz. “Female sexual dysfunction: a systematic overview of classification, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment.” Fortschritte der Neurologie-psychiatrie 72, … Continue reading
Sexual dysfunction can be caused by physical or psychological factors.
Let us delve deeper into the various kinds of sexual disorders that may prevent one from leading a good sexual life:
Desire disorders refer to the loss of libido. The dysfunction, in some cases, masks deeper issues such as relationship problems, exhaustion, or substance abuse. Other causes include a deficiency of the testosterone hormone or medication side effects.
Treating sexual desire disorders: since often they are caused by psychological factors, here are a few ways in which these are treated:
Erectile Dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction, or what was earlier called impotence, is when one cannot maintain a rigid penile erection necessary for sexual pleasure and intercourse. Of course, a one-time incident cannot be termed a dysfunction. However, if this condition persists for over six months, it can be categorized as such. This disorder is more common among older men and usually increases with comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. Sooriyamoorthy, Thushanth, and Stephen W. Leslie. “Erectile Dysfunction.” StatPearls Internet.
According to ayurveda, the apana vayu is a kind of vayu (air) located in the testicles, urinary bladder, phallus, umbilicus, thighs, groin, anus, and colon. It helps in ejaculation, evacuating bowels, and urination. The condition of erectile dysfunction has been described as klaibya in ayurvedic texts.
Treating arousal disorders: The following is usually recommended:
Treatment of orgasm disorders: This usually involves:
Ayurveda enlists several causes that could result in sexual disorders.
Ayurveda classifies erectile dysfunction or klaibya into several types:
Vajikaran is a special branch of ayurvedic rasayana (a category of herbs and deep rejuvenation practices) that can boost sexual stamina. It revitalizes all the seven dhatus (elements) in the body and restores balance. Vajikaran therapy targets the neuro-endocrine-immune system. In other words, it restores nerve health and hormonal balance. It also alleviates stress.
Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs with therapeutic properties have been used for ages. Here is how they can help boost sexual stamina:
This herb is an adaptogen (one that helps the body handle stress) with aphrodisiac properties. It is particularly beneficial for treating stress-induced sexual disorders. It has proved effective in improving spermatogenesis (the process by which sperms are formed) and also has testosterone-like properties.Iuvone, Teresa, Giuseppe Esposito, Francesco Capasso, and Angelo A. Izzo. “Induction of nitric oxide synthase expression by Withania somnifera in macrophages.” Life sciences 72, no. 14 … Continue reading
Ashwagandha is available in the form of tablets and powder.
Precaution: If consumed in large doses, one may experience vomiting and diarrhoea.
Literally, Shatavari means the woman with a hundred husbands. It symbolizes increased female fertility. It has also been found useful to boost sexual stamina in men. A study proved its efficacy in diabetic male rats.  Thakur, Mayank, Shilpi Bhargava, and V. K. Dixit. “Effect of Asparagus racemosus on sexual dysfunction in hyperglycemic male rats.” Pharmaceutical Biology 47, no. 5 (2009): 390-395.
Precaution: Incorrect dosage of Shatavari may lead to kidney damage.
Safed Musli acts as an aphrodisiac or sexual stimulant that can boost sexual stamina. Its effect on sexual health and spermatogenesis was studied on albino rats. There was an increase in mount frequency and a heightened attractability towards females. It also increased sperm count significantly. Kenjale, Rakesh, Riddhi Shah, and Sadhana Sathaye. “Effects of Chlorophytum borivilianum on sexual behaviour and sperm count in male rats.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal … Continue reading
Precautions: People suffering from digestive or liver disorders should consult an ayurvedic practitioner before consuming Safed Musli.
While little research supports its claims, shilajit has been traditionally used to increase vigour. When consumed by women, Shilajit helps in inducing periods and regulating the menstrual cycle.
How to consume shilajit
Precaution: It can increase the iron levels in your body.
While sexual disorders in men are well defined and manifest in the form of erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, the dysfunctions in women are harder to define. In women, it is common to observe a loss in libido and often, their sexual health is affected by hormones and stress. In addition to the herbs mentioned in the previous section, here are some that can help women in particular:
Moringa is a great way to provide vital nutrients such as calcium, and vitamins A, B2, and B3. This also helps in improving female fertility.
Precaution: If you are pregnant, consult a medical professional before consuming moringa.
Nutmeg is often referred to as women’s “viagra” because of its stimulating properties to boost sexual stamina. It is also an antidepressant.
Precaution: Do not consume in excess (more than 120 g) as it can cause hallucinations. Excess amounts can also cause pregnant women to miscarry.
There isn’t any reason to worry if the herbal remedies are consumed as per the advised dosage and with the precautions kept in mind.
It is important to bear in mind that sexual health in every human being is a complex act that depends on certain organs of the body and the mind and one’s social relations. Any sexual disorder must be treated without stigma and by adopting a holistic approach. To lead a good sexual life is the right of every human being.
Sexual response is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by physiological (comorbidities like diabetes or hypertension), psychological (performance anxiety), and social (marital relationship) factors. A disturbance in any one of these can prevent you from leading a good sexual life. To treat sexual dysfunction, one has to adopt a holistic approach. Sexual dysfunction cannot be treated in isolation. While assessing the problem, the first step is accepting the problem and not being ashamed of it. Destigmatizing discussions related to sexual health is crucial.
A healthy lifestyle is paramount to not only maintain good health but also to boost sexual stamina. Comorbidities and stress play a huge role, and these are lifestyle disorders that can be managed. Here are some areas to focus on, along with consulting an expert:
In addition to specific herbs, lifestyle changes also go a long way to boost sexual stamina. If you seek a good sexual life, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced ayurvedic practitioner and a medical professional specializing in this domain.
Sexual dysfunction in men can be detected by symptoms like a lack of desire due to loss of libido or deficiency of testosterone, arousal issues like erectile dysfunction, orgasm disorders like premature or retarded/delayed ejaculation, or pain in the sexual organs.
Sexual dysfunction in women can be attributed to symptoms during the desire, arousal, or orgasm phases. This could be due to loss of libido due to low testosterone levels or psychological trauma, or disorders related to sexual organs like dyspareunia and vaginismus – an involuntary spasm in the vagina during intercourse which inhibits coitus. Dryness of the vagina and menopause can also prevent pleasure from sexual intercourse.
Herbal remedies have shown immense promise in naturally treating sexual disorders in both men and women. It is recommended to consult a seasoned Ayurvedic practitioner to choose the right herbs, dosage and duration for your specific sexual dysfunction.
Most herbs are safe, but if you suffer from chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, you should consult your doctor before starting on these herbs. Patients on statins and other medications should check with their doctor.
The most commonly prescribed herbs for sexual dysfunction include ashwagandha, shatavari, safed musli, shilajit, moringa, nutmeg, etc. They improve blood flow to the sexual organs and provide adequate nourishment and healing for the reproductive system.
|↑1||Shepardson, R. and M. Carey, “Sexual Dysfunctions”, 2021.|
|↑2||Dalal, P. K., Adarsh Tripathi, and S. K. Gupta. “Vajikarana: Treatment of sexual dysfunctions based on Indian concepts.” Indian Journal of psychiatry 55, no. Suppl 2 (2013): S273.|
|↑3||Purohit, Dharitri, Ramadevi, Arpana Jain, “A Review on Shukra Dushti and Disorders of Different Phases of Sexual Response Cycle”, International Ayurvedic Medical Journal|
|↑4||deGROAT, WILLIAM C., and AUGUST M. BOOTH. “Physiology of male sexual function.” Annals of internal medicine 92, no. 2_Part_2 (1980): 329-331.|
|↑5||Marthol, H., and M. J. Hilz. “Female sexual dysfunction: a systematic overview of classification, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment.” Fortschritte der Neurologie-psychiatrie 72, no. 3 (2004): 121-135.|
|↑6||Sooriyamoorthy, Thushanth, and Stephen W. Leslie. “Erectile Dysfunction.” StatPearls Internet.|
|↑7||Gillman, Nicholas, and Michael Gillman. “Premature ejaculation: Aetiology and treatment strategies.” Medical Sciences 7, no. 11 (2019): 102.|
|↑8||Munjack, Dennis J., and Pamela H. Kanno. “Retarded ejaculation: a review.” Archives of sexual behavior 8, no. 2 (1979): 139-150.|
|↑9||Magnuson, Sandy and Senja Collins, “Collaboration between Couples, Counselors and Physical Therapists when Treating Dyspareunia: An Untapped Partnership,” 10, no. 1 (2002): 109-111.|
|↑10||Harish, Thippeswamy, KrishnaPrasad Muliyala, and Pratima Murthy. “Successful management of vaginismus: an eclectic approach.” Indian journal of psychiatry 53, no. 2 (2011): 154.|
|↑11||Mezzich, Juan E., and Ruben Ed Hernandez-Serrano. Psychiatry and sexual health: An integrative approach. Jason Aronson, 2006.|
|↑12||Iuvone, Teresa, Giuseppe Esposito, Francesco Capasso, and Angelo A. Izzo. “Induction of nitric oxide synthase expression by Withania somnifera in macrophages.” Life sciences 72, no. 14 (2003): 1617-1625.|
|↑13||Thakur, Mayank, Shilpi Bhargava, and V. K. Dixit. “Effect of Asparagus racemosus on sexual dysfunction in hyperglycemic male rats.” Pharmaceutical Biology 47, no. 5 (2009): 390-395.|
|↑14||Kenjale, Rakesh, Riddhi Shah, and Sadhana Sathaye. “Effects of Chlorophytum borivilianum on sexual behaviour and sperm count in male rats.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 22, no. 6 (2008): 796-801.|
Dr. Aswathy has 10+ years of experience as an Ayurvedic consultant and medical officer in different nursing homes and hospitals. She has a deep knowledge of classical texts, Ayurvedic treatments, and Panchkarma. Dr. Aswathy is proficient in diagnosis through traditional Ayurvedic means and plans treatment that is specific to an individual’s constitution.
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