Traditional Chinese Medicine for Sexual Dysfunction: Review of the Evidence



Traditional Chinese Medicine for Sexual Dysfunction: Review of the Evidence


Journal Publication



Research Type

Systematic Review



INTRODUCTION: Despite the growing popularity of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the Western world, biomedical students and practitioners struggle to understand TCM and how it relates to their standard diagnosis and treatment practices. AIMS: To describe the fundamentals of TCM theory and practice relevant to sexual dysfunction; to review and critique the current state of TCM research within Western biomedical literature; and to identify sites for improvement of future research and for collaborative integration of TCM and biomedicine in practice. METHODS: Information about TCM from an insider perspective was obtained from English-language textbooks and lectures intended to teach Western students its theory and practice. PubMed search using Medical Subject Heading terms for Western sexual diagnoses and TCM treatments was performed in April and October 2017 to represent the evidence for TCM in Western biomedical literature. Articles in non-English languages and without human subjects were excluded. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 27 studies were included in this review. The most commonly studied intervention was acupuncture. An equal number of studies addressed sexual dysfunction in men and women, but only women were included in studies of physically passive mindfulness meditation. RESULTS: Compared with Western biomedicine, TCM offers a more interdisciplinary and individualized approach to disease and its treatment. This embrace of individual idiosyncrasy in diagnosis and treatment presents a challenge to Western biomedical research norms that rely almost exclusively on quantitative methods that compare large and homogeneous groups with a fixed diagnosis and treatment regimen. CONCLUSION: TCM offers a very different understanding of the human body, health, and disease from Western biomedicine. There is value in the study and application of these 2 medical systems, particularly for biopsychosocial problems of sexual dysfunction. However, this must be done cautiously, with attention to appropriate study design, to avoid shallow and unscientific cultural appropriation of TCM practices. Chubak B, Doctor A. Traditional Chinese Medicine for Sexual Dysfunction: Review of the Evidence. Sex Med Rev 2018;X:XXX-XXX.





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27 studies reviewed.

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