Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction in older men and women: an overview of systematic reviews

Maturitas. 2011 Sep;70(1):37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.06.011. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Older patients with sexual dysfunction (SD) and/or erectile dysfunction (ED) often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The aim of this overview of systematic reviews is to critically evaluate the evidence for or against the effectiveness of CAM. Six electronic databases were searched to identify all relevant systematic reviews (SRs). Their methodological quality was assessed independently by two reviewers using the Oxman score. Four SRs met our inclusion criteria. They evaluated: acupuncture, ginseng, maca and yohimbine. The methodological quality of all of the SRs was good. However, the primary studies were often associated with considerable risk of bias. Cautiously positive conclusions were drawn for yohimbine and ginseng as treatment options for ED. For acupuncture and maca the evidence was insufficient for ED and SD respectively. It is concluded that there is some encouraging evidence but more and better studies are required to establish the value of CAM for SD and ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Aging
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lepidium
  • Male
  • Panax
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Yohimbine / therapeutic use


  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Plant Extracts
  • Yohimbine