Acupressure has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s like acupuncture without the needles. It targets specific points on your body to release energy and facilitate healing.

In the case of erectile dysfunction (ED), experts say this form of self-massage may help improve your sexual health.

Acupuncture is based on the theory of meridian lines — a series of energy pathways in the body. Acupuncture and acupressure are said to release energy blocks in meridian lines.

Blockages in meridians are believed to lead to pain and illness. Stimulating these lines — whether through acupuncture via needles or acupressure via touch — may help improve health, correct imbalances, and restore wellness.

“Acupuncture and acupressure work by stimulating both the nervous system and the vascular system,” according to Dr. Joshua Hanson, DACM, of Hanson Complete Wellness in Tampa, Florida.

Hanson said that, much like pharmaceuticals, these approaches can cause blood vessels to dilate. This allows for an erection to occur.

One of the benefits of acupressure is that you can do it at home by yourself.

Acupressure involves applying firm pressure to specific points throughout the body.

Practice at home by following these steps:

  1. Begin by relaxing. Take several deep breaths.
  2. Find the pressure point and apply firm pressure for 30 seconds–1 minute on both sides of the body, before moving on to the next point.

Most studies on acupressure have participants practice this 2–3 times a day for at least 4 weeks.

Tip: Use small circular motions on each pressure point. The pressure should be firm, but make sure it’s not so strong that it causes pain.

The pressure points that may be useful for the treatment of ED include:

HT7 (wrist)

HT7 is at the crease of your wrist. It aligns with your pinky and is about one finger’s width in from the edge.

LV3 (foot)

LV3 is on the top of your foot, between your big and second toes, in the area just above where the two bones meet.

KD3 (ankle)

KD3 is above your heel and on the inside of your lower leg, midway between the medial malleolus and the Achilles tendon.

SP6 (ankle/lower leg)

SP6 is on the inside of your lower leg and four fingers’ width above your ankle bone.

ST36 (Lower leg)

ST36 is on the front of your lower leg about four fingers’ width below the knee and on the outside of your shinbone.

Other areas

Acupuncturist Dylan Stein said other areas may benefit from self-massage.

“Massaging the lower back and sacrum is very good for ED,” he said. “You can also massage the same area on the front, from your belly button to the pubic bone.”

Stein explained that acupressure and acupuncture are just a few approaches. For his patients, he often recommends methods such as mindfulness meditation along with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Hanson takes a similar approach, suggesting that patients:

It’s important to talk with a doctor if you have problems with ED. Tell your doctor about complementary therapies you’d like to try, like acupressure.

An acupuncturist can amplify the benefits of at-home acupressure, according to Stein. He adds that acupuncture is more powerful than self-massage techniques.