Breaking the silence: Addressing sexual dysfunction and reviving intimacy through complementary medicine

While herbal supplements generally have a reputation for being safe, it is still important to be aware of potential side effects or risks. Picture by Jonathan Borba /Pexels

While herbal supplements generally have a reputation for being safe, it is still important to be aware of potential side effects or risks. Picture by Jonathan Borba /Pexels

Published Jul 6, 2023


According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, sexual dysfunction affects approximately 31% of women and 45% of men globally, highlighting its widespread nature.

Traditional medical treatments have been the primary approach for managing sexual dysfunction but there is a noticeable shift towards complementary medicine in recent years.

Leana Bronkhorst, Marketing Manager at Brunel Laboratoria (Pty) Limited, and Suzelle Myburgh, also from Brunel Laboratoria, who are renowned for their expertise in complementary medicines explore the connection between the use of complementary medicine and its potential benefits in addressing these issues.

Sexual dysfunction is a complex issue that can affect individuals of all genders and age groups. Depending on the cause of your sexual dysfunction, you may or may not have to live with it. But talk to your doctor, they encouraged.

However, it is important to note that sexual dysfunction is often under-reported due to social stigmas and a lack of awareness about treatment options.

Several factors can contribute to the development of sexual dysfunction, including physical, psychological, and relational factors, said the pair.

Here are some common causes for different types of sexual dysfunction:

Erectile dysfunction (ED) involves difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Becomes more prevalent with age and often has physical causes such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hormonal imbalances, or medication side effects.

Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, depression or relationship problems can also contribute to ED.

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) encompasses various issues such as low libido, difficulty in arousal, inability to achieve orgasm, or pain during sexual activity.

Physical, psychological and social elements can contribute to these issues including hormonal imbalances, menopause, gynaecological diseases, as well as depression, anxiety, and body image difficulties.

Premature ejaculation (PE) refers to the inability to delay ejaculation during sexual intercourse, resulting in distress or dissatisfaction.

Low sexual desire refers to a decrease or absence of sexual thoughts, fantasies or desires. Causes of low libido can be multifaceted

There is no doubt that sex can be an important part of all types of relationships - be they monogamous, polyamorous, or open partnerships - because it can provide emotional intimacy, strengthen self-esteem and relieve stress.

Untreated sexual dysfunction can lead to decreased sexual satisfaction and overall distress, resulting in reduced quality of life and decreased happiness. It may also affect self-esteem and body image.

More than anything it puts a strain on your relationship because sexual problems can create tension and frustration in romantic relationships. And that may lead to a decline in emotional intimacy and communication issues, said Bronkhorst.

What we advise is for individuals to seek help for sexual dysfunction because that can lead to the identification and management of any underlying physical health conditions that may have contributed to the problem.

This ensures comprehensive care and potentially prevents future health complications, said the team.

“The four pillars of health: maintaining a balanced diet, exercising, managing stress and consuming alcohol moderately are just a few of the manageable things that couples going through this can do.”

Some herbal blends or ingredients have been found to enhance intimacy and reignite passion in struggling relationships include:

Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam): It is commonly used to increase energy and sexual drive in both men and women.

Epimedium brevicornum (Horny Goat Weed): Used to enhance libido and address erectile dysfunction.

Panax Ginseng: Traditionally used for an extensive range of health benefits including the treatment of erectile dysfunction and improving athletic and mental performance.

“We believe that the blend of ingredients, and the quantities used in each product make all of the difference.”

“The mechanism through which herbal supplements improve sexual health varies depending on the specific ingredient. However, some common mechanisms include: promoting blood flow, balancing hormones and reducing stress and anxiety”

“Always adhere to the recommended dosage instructions on the product packaging or as directed by a healthcare professional to avoid potential side effects or risks.

It may take time for herbal supplements to take effect, so be patient and consistent with their use. But most importantly combine with healthy lifestyle choices: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, balanced diet, stress management, and open communication in relationships, can complement the effects of herbal supplements.

While herbal supplements generally have a reputation for being safe, it is still important to be aware of potential side effects or risks. Some possible side effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, or allergic reactions.

Additionally, herbal supplements can interact with certain medications, so it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications, they said.