Naturopathic Approach to Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction, although not uncommon, does not need to go untreated. Naturopathic medicine can readily address many common sexual concerns and issues.
Sexual practices and preferences may vary by individual, but it’s safe to say that for most people, a healthy lifestyle includes a healthy sex life. Unfortunately, for many people this is not the case. There are many issues that can disrupt a healthy sex life, so it’s important to discern what the issues are, for each person. This is where naturopathic medicine shines – we are experts in finding the root cause of dysfunction. With regard to sexual difficulties, concerns can certainly stem from physical and structural issues, but often also include mental, emotional or spiritual issues. When addressing the topic of sexual difficulty with someone, we want to make sure to look into the cause behind these issues and address them accordingly.
Some of the more common physical reasons for sexual difficulty and our approaches to them include:
Menopause-related changes like vaginal dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue – this is very common and normal with aging, as levels of estrogen drop. However, it can make sex very uncomfortable or even painful and should be addressed.
Our approach: Supporting the vaginal tissue and ecosystem with local applications and systemically with herbs and homeopathy often works quite well to alleviate these symptoms. We will also want to balance hormone levels and overall health can help to keep vaginal tissue strong and lubricated over time.
Erectile dysfunction (ED)– on a physical level, this is usually due to either cardiovascular issues and/or “andropause” (the natural lowering of testosterone levels with aging).
It is very important to rule-out cardiovascular disease as the first step in addressing ED, as this is often one of the first signs of atherosclerosis (the forming of plaques and hardening of the arteries). If that is determined to be the cause, addressing cardiovascular health, including inflammation and lipids, will be the focus.
If a low level of testosterone (adjusted for age) is determined to be the cause, we will want to address hormone balancing as the main objective. One key here would be looking at what is causing the imbalance, which can be anything from abdominal adiposity (which causes higher conversion rates of testosterone into estrogen) to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and so on.
Our approach: Focus on the cause, per above, and support normal physiology and hormone levels via herbs, homeopathy, nutrition and lifestyle counseling.
Low libido – this comes up fairly regularly for both men and women in our practice. Again – it’s important to determine if this is stemming from a physical issue, like hormone imbalance, or if it’s something related to a relationship, desire, etc. Herbal medicines, homeopathy and supplements aimed at improving libido via hormone balancing and adrenal health are typically quite helpful in this arena, if indeed the cause is physical.
Mental and emotional concerns are also of paramount importance when addressing sexual health and are considered and addressed as-needed. Some common causes of sexual dysfunction in this arena include:
- Relationship issues
- Lack of safety
- Communication difficulties
Of note: Past trauma and abuse is something that often comes up for folks when looking at sexual history or investigating the cause of his/her sexual difficulties. Naturopathic doctors will discuss this history with their patients, if the patient feels comfortable, but it can often be helpful to have additional practitioners on board for support, such as a counselor or therapist. We will discuss these options with you, if desired.
Some additional assessment is often quiet useful when looking at issues with sexual function and can include any or all of the following:
- Extensive review of one’s health history with your naturopathic doctor to look at symptoms, timing, patterns, potential causes, etc.
- Reviewing recent blood tests or screening lab work you’ve had done, such as thyroid and reproductive hormone levels, CBC, CMP, lipids, etc. If you haven’t had these done, we may request that you have them ordered by your primary care doctor or gynecologist.
- Physical exam by your primary care doctor and/or gynecologist may also be requested, as-needed.
- Assessment tools like saliva and urinary assessments to look at adrenal and reproductive hormone levels and their metabolites.
As with any other area or concern we are working on with folks, we want to look at underlying root causes of what is going on, in order to facilitate more complete and lasting healing. If you have concerns about your sexual health, feel free to schedule with one of the naturopathic doctors at Richmond Natural Medicine. You may contact one of our Patient Relations Specialist at (804) 977-2634 to book an appointment.
About The Author
Dr. Bridget Casey is a Naturopathic Doctor at Richmond Natural Medicine, where she enjoys seeing patients of all ages and a variety of conditions, including hormone dysregulation and chronic digestive disorders. Dr. Casey utilizes various forms of natural medicine, including herbs, nutrition, homeopathy and lifestyle counseling. She received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), in Portland, OR and completed her residency in family practice right here at RNM. Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Casey.