Acupuncture Puts Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Shame in New Study

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For centuries, men have sought ways to combat the frustrating and ego-deflating issue of erectile dysfunction (ED). While modern medicine has provided solutions like the little blue pill, a new study suggests that an ancient Chinese therapy may be just as effective, if not more so, in helping men rise to the occasion.


Erectile dysfunction (ED), the persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance, affects an estimated 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70.1 While prescription medications like sildenafil (Viagra) have been the frontline treatment for ED since the late 1990s, a recent randomized controlled trial published in the journal Zhongguo Zhen Jiu suggests that acupuncture may be a viable alternative or complementary treatment.2

The Study: Needles vs. Pills

Researchers Min Zhu, Fei Quan, Kaiyang Xue, Caihong Xiao, and Jin Cui randomly divided 64 ED patients into two groups: an acupuncture group and a western medication group. The acupuncture group received treatments at various acupoints, including Baihui (GV 20), Qihai (CV 6), Guanyuan (CV 4), Zhongji (CV 3), Dahe (KI 12), Qugu (CV 2), and Zusanli (ST 36), for 30 minutes every other day. The western medication group took 50 mg of sildenafil orally 1 hour before sexual activity. Both groups underwent treatment for 30 days.2

Measuring Success: Scores, Scales, and Testosterone

To gauge the effectiveness of the treatments, the researchers employed several tools:

1. International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) score
2. Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) score
3. Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) score
4. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) syndrome score

These scores were recorded before treatment, after treatment, and during a follow-up two weeks post-treatment. Serum testosterone levels were also measured before and after treatment.2

Results: Acupuncture Stands Tall

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that both groups showed significant improvements in IIEF-5 scores post-treatment and during follow-up compared to pre-treatment scores. However, the acupuncture group had a higher IIEF-5 score during follow-up than the western medication group, indicating a more lasting effect.2

Furthermore, the acupuncture group experienced greater reductions in anxiety (SAS scores), depression (SDS scores), and TCM syndrome scores compared to the western medication group. Both groups also saw an increase in serum testosterone levels post-treatment.2

The total effective rate, a measure of overall treatment success, was 83.3% in the acupuncture group and 86.7% in the western medication group, with no significant difference between the two.2

What's the Point? Acupuncture's Potential for ED Treatment

This study offers compelling evidence that acupuncture can be an effective alternative or complementary treatment for ED. By targeting specific acupoints, acupuncture may help improve erectile function, alleviate anxiety and depression, and address TCM syndromes associated with ED. Moreover, the effects of acupuncture appear to last longer than those of sildenafil, which could mean fewer trips to the doctor (or the acupuncturist) in the long run.2

While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind acupuncture's effects on ED, this ancient Chinese therapy may provide hope for men who have had limited success with pharmaceutical interventions or who prefer a more natural approach.

Conclusion: A Prick of Hope for ED Sufferers

Acupuncture has emerged as a promising contender in the fight against ED. With its potential to improve erectile function, reduce anxiety and depression, and tackle TCM syndromes, this time-honored therapy may offer hope to millions of men struggling with this sensitive issue. So, if you're looking for a treatment that's a little less "little blue pill" and a little more "little silver needle," acupuncture might just be the prick you've been waiting for.

To learn more about the health benefits of acupuncture visit our database on the subject here.


1: Feldman, H. A., I. Goldstein, D. G. Hatzichristou, R. J. Krane, and J. B. McKinlay. "Impotence and Its Medical and Psychosocial Correlates: Results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study." The Journal of Urology 151, no. 1 (1994): 54-61.

2: Zhu, M., F. Quan, K. Xue, C. Xiao, and J. Cui. "Acupuncture for Erectile Dysfunction: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Zhongguo Zhen Jiu 44, no. 4 (2024): 418-422.

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