19 Cosby Ave Amherst,
THE AROUSAL OF ADAM
The Arousal of Adam: PART ONE
Sexuality in Men and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Talking about male sexuality is not always easy. It is an intimate, touchy conversation that often doesn’t happen at all – even between lovers, or between a doctor and patient. We are not used to it. Men and women surely have many concepts about the ideal male sexuality – fed to us in movies, ads and books. Most women are at ease talking with another woman about the subject of gynecology and sexuality. Possibly because of childbirth and the monthly rhythm, when I see a woman we talk quite openly as she seeks help with any of her menstrual, hormonal, fertility or sexuality issues. We usually chat easily about bleeding, spotting, discharges, urinary tract infections, low libido, or any issues pertaining to gynecology, sexuality or sexual activities. It is in most cases a candid, comfortable conversation. Not so for male patients in the realm of sexuality. As a doctor, I frequently have to prod, inquire and explain why I ask.
The main reason for open discussion is that as a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the more I know about a person’s sexuality, the better I understand a person’s base line of health. The reluctance of men to discuss their sexuality hampers the ability for both patient and doctor to address the person’s whole being.
Recently, I am happy that many more men are now seeking help with general health issues within the field of Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture, in particular, can address many issues related to sexuality including low libido, low sperm count, low motility and infertility in men as well as erectile dysfunction syndrome, premature ejaculation and lack of stamina.
We live in a culture that offers Viagra for better erections and Propecia for hair growth. Masculinity and being an empowered man is not all about erections and hair growth. There is a great deal more to all men than this shortcut to male health as men are getting older. In the current socio-political, medical, pharmaceutical system, men are directed to concern themselves with loosing it above and below: it is called “aging”. Not a fun perspective.
Men’s health in a nutshell: ED (erectile dysfunction) and hair loss, then we add – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prostate issues. But we know men’s health is much more than ED (erectile dysfunction) and hair loss. We want to think about why and how these symptoms appear – and want to strategize and implement life changes which will treat ED issues almost as a positive by-product of addressing the greater picture or the underlying issues.
Talking about sexuality symptoms, for example, allows me as a practitioner to understand how much of the precious kidney energy they actually have.
Kidney energy and sexuality are tightly linked. They are interdependent.
Is a person’s kidney energy strong enough to take them easily through most of the phases of the day, weeks or months or even years? In Western medicine we talk about adrenal health – a similar concept.
Sexuality is also closely connected to essential creativity. The fervor we manifest in how we go about our lives is a clear indicator of the strength of our kidney energy. If the Dan Tian (a famous Chinese Acupuncture point located a hand’s width underneath the belly button) is empty or weak – the kidney pulse will also be empty, deep and possibly hard to find. So, even if we are not talking clearly and loudly about sexuality, Chinese Medicine still helps me to understand a lot from the sound of the voice, facial diagnosis, tongue diagnosis and the pulse.
There is a huge part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and related Tai Chi and QI Gong practices that are dedicated to strengthen the very same Dan Tian which in turn translates into sexual power and Kidney energy in the Chinese medical sense.
Kidney& Bladder issues a hand’s-width down inside the body is also happy
I am writing this piece for men – but also for women as lovers, wives and even mothers who can educate your sons. It is interesting to look at the testosterone numbers of a man over a life span. The numbers greatly change from very high numbers during one’s youth to minimal presence in old age. Testosterone also does not just stand for sexuality. It represents the “go for it” creativity hormone. You need testosterone energy for more than erections. Much more. It is your survival hormone. It is the core of energy for life force.
The source of this life force is the Kidney Energy – in Chinese medicine this equates to the Water element. the season of the winter, the color Blue and the emotion of fear and panic and anxiety. Every organ system pertains to an element, a season, a color (blue) and an emotion – Sexuality equates with Kidney energy and Water.
Let’s just think about what causes the loss of this essential energy. What kills creativity, gratitude, openness, motivation and even kindness? I believe it is stress and years of bad “priority training”. The stress of being “not good enough” and the choices we make to impress the world around us. It is so hard for men to feel responsible to always be on top of things; to perform, provide and succeed. I have witnessed men also having added stress of women in the work place, as women become yet another competitor in high positions. Competition is a major stressor. A man as the primary breadwinner for many families has days that never end. You feel compelled to be on top of the news, developments, the internet. And it clearly is an exhausting race. And then you don’t even get enough sleep because of little kids and more unfulfilled tasks.
Major immune disruption comes from this stress. Stress and junk food make a pitiful combination. By the time you are in your late thirties or forties and for sure by fifty, “YOU ARE EXHAUSTED”. Your adrenals are fatigued. All of a sudden, it doesn’t only feel like that, but it is like that. The bad dream, the fear, comes true you don’t have enough Chi, Qi, or life force energy to successfully make love with your partner.
So then Adam is fifty. Cholesterol numbers are too high according to the western medicine doctor. Maybe blood pressure numbers are too high, some hair is falling out and the erectile dysfunction has crept up. Now Adam is a candidate for “the trio”: Statins, Beta Blocker and Viagra and/or testosterone therapy. At this point, shouldn’t we be questioning how we got here? What is broken? Don’t we want to learn from the past patterns? Maybe some attitudes, behaviors and life choices could change everything? Here is a longer but worthwhile quote for you from the Nei Jing – a Chinese medical text from 2000 years ago. The Emperor Huang Di asked his Court physician Qi Po, a very relevant question:
Emperor HUANG DI:
“I’ve heard that in the days of old everyone lived one hundred years
without showing the usual signs of aging. In our time, however, people age prematurely, living only fifty years. Is this due to a change in the environment, or is it because people have lost the correct way of life?”
Qi Bo replied, “In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance as represented by the transformations of the energies of the universe. They formulated exercises to promote energy flow to harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided over
stressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus, it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”
“These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge excessively in destructive activities, drain their jing – the body’s essence that is stored in the Kidneys – and deplete their qi. They do not know the secret of conserving their energy and vitality. Seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm of the universe. They fail to regulate their lifestyle and diet, and sleep improperly. So it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after.”
At this point I will leave you with this contemplation: in part II I shall offer solutions – some specifically through Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutrition and some from my years of experience.
“Verena has given me not only safe and nurturing environment in which to work, but also an image I hope to embody with any healing practice I take on for myself during my life. She is perceptive, warm, extremely skilled, and compassionate beyond words. I am so grateful to her care, and to the space she holds sacred for those in need.”
- Patti Stillwater
“Verena J. Smith is a national treasure – her synthesis of Traditional Chinese and contemporary healing techniques is brilliant and original. Her four cassette “Introduction to Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine”, healing in itself, is comprehensive and outstanding – truly a Gift of Health.”
- Daniel Goleman
Author ofEmotional Intelligence