Although we are considered a sex-driven society, it seems almost an oxymoron to think that one of the most common issues I see on a regular basis is sexual dysfunction. Whether it manifests as a low sex-drive, vaginal dryness, impotence, premature ejaculation or just a general disinterest, these are all implications of depleted Ojas, hormonal imbalance and/or weakness in the reproductive tissue. Even further, these common disorders are often a red flag that there are imbalances in other areas of the body that have led to the decreased sexual energy in the first place.
The reproductive tissue in Ayurveda is known as Shukra Dhatu in men and Artava Dhatu in women. Many of the disorders in this area of the body are due to a doshic imbalance invading these tissues, causing improper functioning and a depleted sexual energy. Although these are all very serious disorders that can greatly effect one’s daily life and intimate relationship, it is rare that this issue is considered a primary condition, meaning a low libido or any sexual dysfunction almost always has an underlying cause stemming from another (potentially more harmful) disorder. Therefore, it is vital to not only treat the sexual imbalance directly with herbs and oils, but rather look a bit more deeply into the root causes (i.e. depression, hormonal imbalance, stress, etc), and treat these underlying conditions simultaneously.
There are a wide range of causes that may be involved with a low libido or any sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately, these causes usually come in multiple numbers and often will feed off of each other. For example one may experience high anxiety, which leads to insomnia, which leads to hormonal imbalance, which causes impotence and thus the cycle begins. It is rare that our disorders are not interrelated, and often treating one condition will bring benefit to the others. Here is a non-exhaustive list of common causes of sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
Common Causes of Sexual Dysfunction
- Hormonal Imbalance (i.e. low testosterone, estrogen or progesterone)
- High stress
- Chronic exhaustion (mental or physical)
- Sleep issues
- Emotional imbalances including depression, anxiety, insecurity and grief
- Menopausal transition
- Low or imbalanced Ojas
- Low or blocked Prana (which governs circulation)
- Low Agni (digestive fire)
- Excessive toxins (ama)
- Malabsorption of vital nutrients such as zinc, folate and B vitamins
- Improper diet
- Improper lifestyle
- Substance abuse
- Prescription medications (i.e. anti-depressants, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors)
- Primary disease such as diabetes, cancer, hypothyroidism, anemia, arthritis, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue)
- Overall doshic imbalance (e.g. Vata imbalance can cause impotence, dryness and premature ejaculation)
- Low self-esteem; poor body image
- Imbalance in the relationship
- Past sexual trauma or sexual abuse
In Ayurveda, it is always vital to treat not only the symptoms but more importantly the root cause(s) of the disorder. Do some internal investigation and try your best to really discover the causes of your (or your loved one’s) sexual imbalance. Once you have made a list you can begin to treat these issues directly, thus alleviating your sexual distress. Here are some ideas you can utilize to increase the libido and sexual potency. Choose the one’s that resonate with your sexual imbalance, and leave the other ones behind. If you are aware of the causes, you will be able to be much more clear of the path needed for you.
How to Increase the Sexual Energy with Ayurveda
1. Reduce overall stress.
Stress is quite possibly one of the most common causes in sexual dysfunction (and most other disorders). Chronic high stress levels often cause sleep issues, hormonal imbalance, poor circulation, low energy and emotional instability; all of which can have a negative effect on the sexual potency. By reducing your daily stress level, you will undoubtably alleviate many of your health issues including a low libido or other signs of sexual imbalance. Some great stress reducers include:
- Daily walks outside
- Regular Exercise
- Deep belly breathing and other breathing techniques
- Abhyanga (self-oil massage)
- Reduce your daily workload
- Create a healthy, consistent daily routine (meal times, sleep times, etc)
- Make time for you (and essential self-care practices) each day
- Make time for your partner (and not just when you are exhausted at the end of the night)
2. Reduce your workload.
If you are too busy and too exhausted to function by the end of the day, it would be no surprise that the overall sexual energy would be effected. Both mental and physical exhaustion can lead to depleted sexual energy causing issues such as impotence, premature ejaculation, vaginal dryness and general low libido. If your relationship is being effected by your sexual dysfunction, it should be a high priority to reduce your daily workload (which will also reduce your stress levels) and focus on rejuvenating your system.
Overworking is all too common in our society, and sadly we sometimes focus more on our work than on ourselves or our loved ones. If this is an issue for you, try your best to prioritize and see where you can lighten your load, or at least consolidate and organize your duties. Avoid working over 40 hours or 5 days a week in order to have time for you, your health and your relationship. Once we begin to prioritize our work needs, we can then realize what is essential to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow.
3. Eat a healthy diet.
Sexual imbalances are often cause by eating an improper diet. If you are lacking in essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B’s, omega-3‘s and antioxidants, this could be a major culprit to your sexual disorder. Therefore, no matter if you are experiencing a low libido, impotence, dryness or anything in between, eating a diet rich in whole foods, fresh colorful veggies and taking in a wide range of vitamins and minerals (ideally through whole food sources) will undoubtably help improve your sexual imbalance.
Eating a poor diet high in processed foods, additives, preservatives, refined sugar, unhealthy fats and the like will also lead to a weakened digestive fire, decrease overall energy and increase toxic accumulation; all of which are common causes in many sexual imbalances. On the contrary eating a healthy diet will help to increase the digestive fire, boost energy levels and flush out toxins from the system, thus combating your sexual issues on multiple levels.
4. Detoxify the body.
Excessive toxins in the body can lead to clogged channels, poor circulation, weakened digestion, reduced motivation, depleted energy and of course sexual dysfunction. If you feel that this may be an issue for you, it will be essential to flush the toxins from your system, clearing your vital pathways and welcoming unobstructed blood flow and energy.
Detoxification can be done mildly by making positive dietary changes while taking some detoxifying herbs, or can be done a bit more intensely by performing a cleanse.
5. Increase the digestive fire (Agni).
If you are experiencing digestive issues, it is not too surprising that your sexual energy has been negatively effected as well. A low or weakened digestive fire is a major cause of low sexual potency, as it leads to reduced energy, slow metabolism, lack of motivation and built-up toxins. Increasing the digestion will help to alleviate all of these issues and get you ready for the bedroom!
Eating a healthy diet that is suitable for your dosha type is a great first step to increasing the digestive force. You can also take herbal remedies to compliment these dietary changes, making them all the more effective. Here are some of my favorite herbs and tonics for increasing the Agni (digestive fire):
6. Make exercise a daily habit.
Exercise has a laundry list of health benefits and is essential for every-body, everyday. In regards to treating sexual disorders, exercise is a must as it will balance the mood, increase vital circulation, boost energy and motivation, reduce stress, promote self-confidence and create a positive body image.
Ideally it is important to get at least 30 minutes of “intentional movement” in daily. This could be a simple walk outside each day, routine visits to the gym, biking, hiking, swimming, exercise classes, exercise videos, dancing or whatever you will enjoy and realistically do on a regular basis.
7. Get proper sleep each night.
Sleep governs over so many areas of our health, and this includes our hormone levels. Therefore it is essential for our sexual vitality that we are sleeping enough hours and at proper times each night. Here is a general list of some healthy sleep ideals:
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night
- Be asleep by 10pm each night
- Be awake by 6-7am each morning
- Minimal awakenings throughout the night
- Wake up refreshed and ready to go, not groggy and sluggish (read more on how to wake up with energy here!)
If you are experiencing a sleep disorder, this will be a vital factor in balancing your sexual health. Improper sleep patterns not only cause hormonal imbalance but also lead to emotional disorders (depression, anxiety, etc), chronic exhaustion, elevated stress levels and overall Vata imbalance; all of which will deplete the sexual energy further.
8. Reduce the overall Vata imbalance.
Since many (but not all) sexual disorders involve high Vata in the system, it may be essential to treat the Vata imbalance in order to increase the sexual potency. Sexual disorders that often have a Vata influence include impotence, low libido, vaginal dryness, premature ejaculation, an oversensitivity in the genitals and fear or insecurity related to sex. Treating Vata often includes:
- Taking in a Vata-Pacifying Diet
- Performing a daily oil massage with Vata Massage Oil
- Oiling the feet with Vata Oil before bed
- Taking a Vata-balancing medicated ghee such as Majja Ghrita or Rasayana Ghrita
- Taking Vata-pacifying herbs
- Performing Nasya with Vacha Oil or Prana Nasya
9. Sweat it out.
Svedana or sweating procedures are great for promoting relaxation, reducing stress, increasing circulation, removing obstruction and detoxifying the body; all of which will compliment your sexual healing journey quite perfectly. The most highly used methods of sweating in Ayurveda (for home therapies) are either the beloved ginger-baking soda baths, steam rooms or sauna. If you are experiencing sexual issues, aim for partaking in one of these svedana therapies 2-3 times a week minimum.
10. Utilize some simple breathing techniques.
There is not a much more effective (and simpler) way to reduce stress, promote relaxation, increase circulation, balance the mind and reduce Vata than to add some calming breathing techniques to your daily routine. If you are not familiar with any Pranayama (controlled breathing) techniques, then simply taking time to sit and take 10 deep belly breaths each morning, mid-day and evening will do just fine (be consistent!).
If you are familiar with Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), then this will be even better. Perform 10 rounds of Nadi Shodhana, without retention, each morning and again before bed (everyday!). If you are suffering from impotence or premature ejaculation, it would be beneficial to practice either of these breathing techniques up to an hour before intercourse as well.
11. Add a little Yoga to your day.
Since most sexual disorders have a mental imbalance involvement, along with high stress, poor circulation and low Agni (digestion), what better way to combat all of these issues in one healing package than with some daily Yoga practices. The type of Yoga that will be best for your sexual issues will be determined by the underlying causes. For example, if there is high stress, a Vata imbalance or exhaustion, a gentle or restorative practice will be needed.
No matter the cause, here are some beneficial poses for increasing the sexual potency and rejuvenating the reproductive organs:
- Sarvangasana (aka “shoulder stand”)
- Legs up the wall
- Supta Badhakonasana (reclined butterfly pose) or Badhakonasana
- Upavishtakonasana (aka “seated wide angle forward fold”)
- Gentle twists such as ardha matsyendrasana or marichyasana 3
- Ardha Padma Paschimottanasana (half lotus forward fold)
- Janu Shirsasana 2
- Maha Mudra (only for experienced practitioners)
- Siddhasana (only for experienced practitioners)
For best results, choose the Yoga postures that are most suitable for you, and perform them on a daily basis. You can follow with some breathing techniques (see #10) or meditation for added healing benefits!
12. Perform Ashwini Mudra.
This Yoga technique is specific for toning the pelvic region and the genitals, bringing strength, control and new blood flow to these areas. This practice is useful in sexual debility, low libido and premature ejaculation.
Ashwini Mudra is performed by the contraction and release of the buttock muscles, perineum and the anus. This practice can be done in a comfortable seat such as lotus or half lotus pose and should be performed 3-5 times a week for chronic issues, administering about 10 contractions (slowly and with control) at a time. You should also practice this along with the meditation or pranayama up to one hour before intercourse. It is said that through contracting the buttock muscles, one can learn to control the ejaculation and strengthen sexual energy.
13. Use Medicated Ghee (internally and externally).
A powerful way to increase the sexual potency and strengthen reproductive organs is through the proper administration of medicated ghee. The ghee is similar to reproductive fluid in quality and therefore acts to increase the fluids and rejuvenate the sex organs. When infused with herbs that also benefit these areas (i.e. Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Vidari, etc) and promote hormonal balance, it is much more potent than taking either option alone. The best medicated ghee available for this is Rasayana Ghrita or Rejuvenation Ghee, as it contains all of the most potent herbs for providing hormonal balance and increasing the sexual energy.
Rasayana Ghrita can be applied locally on the genitalia (great for both dryness in women and sexual debility in men), as well as taken internally on a daily basis. For extreme issues it is recommend to take 1 tsp, twice daily (along with daily application); while with mild issues 1 tsp each morning (along with local application) 3-7 days a week, as needed.
14. Take an herbal formula for increasing sexual potency.
If you do not have the medicated ghee available, taking an herbal formula filled with Rasayana (rejuvenation) and Vaji Karana (aphrodisiac) herbs will also do the trick. Herbs are a great compliment to these other therapies mentioned and will help to expedite the process when used together. Here is a list of my top Ayurvedic herbal choices for increasing sexual potency, lubricating the tissues, boosting circulation and strengthening the reproductive organs.
- Ashwagandha (specific for men)
- Shatavari (specific for women)
- Kapi Kachu
Of course the herbs that will best fit your needs will be determined by the cause of your condition, your Prakritti (dosha type) and your current Vikrrti (current doshic imbalance). If there is a specific dosha imbalance that is effecting the reproductive tissue, Ojas or Prana, this will also have to be considered.
Sexual debility is a multi-dimensional issue, as it often is an indication of other imbalances in the body. The first step to treatment is to determine these causes in order to discover the proper pathway for healing. Once the causes are found, then it is essential to make the necessary changes (e.g. reducing the workload, detoxify the body, eat a healthy diet, etc) while welcoming beneficial practices into your daily routine (e.g. breathing techniques, exercise, meditation, etc). Finally to complete the process and get the most for your money, a medicated ghee or an appropriate herbal formula can be taken simultaneously to relieve any related imbalances, strengthen the reproductive tissue and ignite the sexual energy directly.