“For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life − and to the flower a bee is a messenger of love − and to both, bee and flower, the giving and receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy”. Khalil Gibran
In the 1950s, sex was a good option of an evening when we had little to distract us. Now we can choose to watch TV until late, use computers to catch up on work we didn’t manage to finish in the day, and there is often little distinction between work and home life. So sex can come quite low down on the list of priorities, particularly if both partners are working. In clinic I see that female arousal and sexual enjoyment are at a very low ebb, it doesn’t take long for sex to become a chore is it is just another item added to the endless list of things that need to be done and achieved. Even in couples where both parties equally want a child – sex on demand does nothing for arousal and enjoyment levels. One of my patients, who was taking steroids for a complicated fertility issue, described how she aggressively demanded sex from her husband. Only to met with his response of ‘babe you are really scaring me now!’ ‘Project baby’ that can destroy a sex life and trying for a baby can highlight problems that already exist in the relationship. It can be very beneficial to seek counselling from an organization such as Relate. Perhaps resentment or blame have built up, for instance. It’s vital that both partners are fully on board with the idea of parenting, as any ambivalence will put a dampener on your sex life. Chinese medicine and libido Low libido is usually considered to be a weakness in the Kidney energy system, although at my clinic I see an increasing amount of women and men who suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation. This problem arises when there is too much pressure around sex and when there are emotional problems within the relationship. I think this can be linked to couples trying to time sex too precisely and therefore it can become rather forced and tense. With this scenario women are likely to develop ovulation problems, or men may suffer from performance anxiety. Therapies such as massage and acupuncture are very useful to help couples relax. There is nothing worse than being told you just need to ‘relax more’, but there is a grain of truth in it; tension and sex are not happy bed partners. The Chinese have a well-documented history of recognizing and treating problems with libido. Many Chinese herbs and formulas for this problem existed long before Viagra. Women’s libido needs to be considered as more than just her sexual appetite. In women it is as much to do with your vitality, your self-esteem and the way you feel about your partner. That is not to say sexual appetite is not important; just that women require a different approach to treatment when considering improving their libido. Women require nourishing over a long period of time to slowly and gently build their vitality and reserves so that they regain that loving feeling. It is very different for men, who can perform perfectly well with a short burst of energy; this is why Viagra works − it’s a bit like rocket fuel. So for the practitioner of Chinese medicine, when considering acupuncture and herbal medicine, it is important to work very differently with men and women.