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How Herbs Can Help
If you would like to discuss any of the issues mentioned here with a herbalist, then please call Stuart FitzSimons MNIMH on 07802 408146 or find your nearest herbalist at this site nimh.org.uk.
Unfortunately nowadays, any serious discussion surrounding the real issues and problems that lead to sexual dysfunction have been almost buried under a mountain of little blue tablets... Viagra! This one drug has given the impression that all sexual problems will be cured by one miraculous little tablet and it has distracted from the many potential causes and situations that give rise to sexual dysfunction. It is also a tablet primarily useful for men, but the largest group of sexual dysfunction patients I have seen in my 30 years as a herbalist are menopausal women. So much for all that publicity and that tablet then! Sexual dysfunction is relatively common and may just be a temporary situation or part of a long-term illness and it should be viewed no differently to any other ailment or illness, even though most of us still find it a difficult topic to discuss even with professionals.
Be wary of the word aphrodisiac too. It does not really mean anything, as at the end of the day the best aphrodisiac may be the cure for your painful back!
What causes sexual dysfunction?
It is important to realise that sex-drive, also known as libido, is governed by the complex interaction of several factors, including:
- Psychological factors, an appropriate sexual mind state and desire.
- Genetic factors.
- Hormonal status.
- Circulatory system health.
- Nervous system function.
When examining the background to sexual dysfunction cases it is essential therefore to consider all the above areas, how they may be influencing the situation and how they may be adjusted or improved. In other words, all the above systems of the body should be assessed to discern exactly what factors are affecting the specific person presenting with sexual dysfunction. We are not all the same and therefore there is no standard treatment when looking at individuals. Viagra incidentally only works in one of those areas!
It is very unusual to encounter an individual with life-long sexual dysfunction as this tends to be related to genetic or psycho-social problems and the vast majority of cases will be acquired, or in other words, secondary to some other illness or condition. Examples of conditions that lead to sexual dysfunction include:
- Psychological problems - including depression, anxiety, stress etc. Be aware that the mind can be a great hindrance in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. It is one of those instance where the more you dwell on it, think about it or analyse it, the worse it becomes. A vicious self-defeating circle can be set up. In depression for example, it can cause sexual dysfunction and that can make depression worse and so on... and on...
- Circulatory problems - such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vein problems, after a heart attack.
- Hormonal problems - including the menopause, high prolactin levels, low testosterone levels, adrenal gland problems, thyroid gland problems, diabetes.
- Neurologic/nerve problems - after a stroke, MS, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord and nerve injuries.
- Drugs - the major drugs causing sexual dysfunction are alcohol and tobacco. Nowadays there are many prescription drugs that cause sexual dysfunction and sadly, due to out of control modern prescribing, a patient may be taking 2 or 3 drugs that all contribute to the situation and these drugs are rapidly taking over from alcohol and tobacco as a leading cause.
- Miscellaneous - there are many other conditions that can impinge upon sexual function negatively and even this simple list tells us how easily sexual function can be disturbed.
Medical definitions of sexual dysfunction have never really been adequate either. For men the definition has always hinged around erectile dysfunction and the ability to maintain an erection, but in women an absolute definition has always been impossible because of the potential interplay of complex psychological, hormonal or physical events. So really then sexual dysfunction for both men and women refers to any problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents one, or both partners, experiencing sexual satisfaction.
Reading the above, it is plain to see that one drug can never be a magic bullet in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. I have made no distinction above between male and female as many of the causes affect both sexes equally and demonstrates how each case has to be examined and treated on an individual basis. This is one instance where herbal medicine really comes into its own as there are many herbs that can be applied to the plethora of potential causes of sexual dysfunction and they can be blended specifically for an individual case. The real trick is to look at all these different areas and optimise them all with specific emphasis being shifted to particularly bad areas.
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