Remember the last time you got a bad sunburn? You probably reached for some aloe vera (and an ice pack) to cool off. Derived from the aloe vera plant, this gel is commonly known as a cooling treatment for all sorts of burns, from kitchen burns to sunburns.
But aloe vera has also been a bit of a buzzy natural ingredient lately, popping up as a hydrating and collagen-boosting ingredient in skincare, in juice form at health food stores and even as aloe vera for male enhancement with claims that it can help improve the appearance, size or function of your penis.
Which might raise the question: does aloe vera help sexually? What are the aloe vera benefits for men?
Let’s break down the benefits of this green, goopy plant and separate fact from fiction about whether or not aloe vera can help you in the bedroom.
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Aloe vera has been used for several centuries for its medicinal benefits and is still a popular plant today. Here are some of the well-established aloe vera benefits for men.
If you’ve ever been in the middle of some bedroom action and ran out of lube, then you’ll be relieved to know you can use aloe vera gel in a pinch.
You probably already know how soothing aloe vera gel can be when applied to a fresh sunburn. That soothing, cooling sensation also comes in handy if you find yourself with razor burn after shaving your face — or anywhere else.
The hydrating effects of topical aloe vera gel may also prevent acne, psoriasis or eczema flare-ups.
For most people, aloe vera is gentle enough for use on genital skin. That’s good news, because there’s evidence that aloe vera may help heal genital sores from the herpes simplex virus.
Aloe is also known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s chock full of vitamins A, C and E (also known as antioxidants), which all have some wound-healing properties.
There’s some research suggesting that drinking aloe vera improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as constipation and stomach pain.
So, there are a lot of benefits to using aloe beyond a burn soother post-beach day.
But for all the proven benefits of aloe vera, do the claims that this topical gel or an aloe vera drink have benefits for men’s sexual health have the evidence to support them?
While you might see claims that aloe vera can boost your sex drive or libido, the only research so far has been done on animals. Specifically, a 2017 study found that using aloe on rats potentially enhanced libido — but we can’t say yet whether it has the same effect on humans.
You may have also heard that aloe vera can improve the quality of your sperm. However, these studies were also only done on animals — and there have been conflicting results too.
One study from 2014 found there were potential benefits to sperm health and hormone levels in mice injected with an aloe vera compound.
Meanwhile, a different 2011 study with animals found topical aloe vera actually reduced sperm concentration and quality.
One of the most common forms of sexual dysfunction — about 30 million men in the U.S. alone are affected — erectile dysfunction (ED) is the struggle to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.
With so many men affected, it’s easy to see why there are many treatments claiming to help — including aloe vera.
However, there’s no evidence to back the claims that aloe vera juice or gel improves ED.
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Aloe vera is widely used (see the stocked shelves every summer, right next to the sunscreen). However, there are some potential side effects of aloe vera use, including:
Stomach pain or cramps
Laxative effects, like diarrhea
And while aloe vera is safe for most people, an allergic reaction is possible, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you’re worried about being allergic to aloe, try a patch test on your skin before using it, either topically or orally.
While it’s excellent for relieving a nasty sunburn or as a natural lubricant, the research on aloe vera benefits for male sexual health isn’t quite there.
But there are plenty of alternatives to aloe vera for improved sexual function.
Although many people think erectile dysfunction is something that only happens to older men, age is simply one cause. Issues like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, drinking alcohol and obesity can contribute to the development of ED by affecting blood flow (a key part of the erection process).
You may have heard of the more common ED medications:
Sildenafil. The generic version of Viagra®, sildenafil is a popular PDE5 inhibitor because of how fast-acting it is — it usually works within 30 to 60 minutes of taking it and lasts for around four hours.
Stendra®. Although a newer ED medication, Stendra— the generic version of which is avanafil — is also a PDE5 inhibitor. A couple of major perks of Stendra are that it works after just 15 minutes and is thought to cause fewer side effects.
While these medications are often sold as oral tablets, they're also available as convenient chewable hard mints.
If pills aren’t your thing, there are several devices you can purchase that are marketed as assisting with erectile dysfunction, such as vibrators, external support devices and implants.
The intention of a penile vibrator is to stimulate your penis so that blood flows to the area.
Similarly, pumps create a suction to pull blood into the penis. After that, you put a plastic ring around the base of your penis to keep the blood there.
These methods all treat physical causes of ED, but often the causes of sexual dysfunction can be in your mind, also called psychological ED. These causes can be anything from daily stress and relationship issues to sexual performance anxiety or mental health issues like depression.
The idea of talking about what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the bedroom to a stranger may be intimidating or straight-up embarrassing. But therapy can actually be an incredibly helpful tool in improving your sex life.
Going to therapy either on your own or with a partner can help you work through any challenges you’re facing, face any sort of anxiety you might be dealing with and even work on communication issues.
Several types of therapy are available. They all have different methods but the same end goal of helping you work through issues and hopefully improve your sex life.
Another common type of sexual dysfunction, premature ejaculation (PE) affects around 39 percent of the male population. Premature ejaculation can be defined as reaching orgasm and ejaculating early during sex.
For many men, topical creams and sprays that reduce the sensitivity level of your penis are enough to treat this condition. These creams, sprays or wipes — like Clockstopper Benzocaine Wipes or Delay Spray — contain topical anesthetics such as lidocaine or benzocaine and are designed for use before sex.
There aren’t any medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat premature ejaculation, but healthcare providers may recommend antidepressants off-label (which simply means used for something other than their intended use). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like paroxetine are a common treatment option.
Numerous studies have also found that sertraline, the active ingredient in Zoloft® and one of the most widely used antidepressants, is effective at delaying ejaculation.
Even if you don’t struggle with premature ejaculation or ED but want to shake things up in your sex life or increase sexual arousal, there are plenty of sex toys you can try.
Cock rings like the Standing O Penis Rings enhance sexual pleasure during intercourse by applying pressure to the area near the base of your penis. Some even vibrate, like the OMG Ring Penis Vibrator, providing added stimulation for both partners if the vibes are powerful enough.
Or you can use a vibrator, which is enjoyable for vaginas, the clitoris, anuses, the G-spot and everything in between. May we suggest a Bullet Vibrator?
A powerful little green plant, aloe vera has been used for centuries and is still popular for treating sunburns. Some have even claimed aloe vera gel or drinks can help improve male sexual health. But are these claims true?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that contains medicinal properties, as well as hydrating benefits. Often used as a healing ointment, aloe vera can also be used as an aftershave or to prevent eczema or rash flare-ups.
While there are quite a few benefits of aloe vera extract, there’s little to no research when it comes to its use for male enhancement.
If you’re looking to treat sexual dysfunction, you're better off saving the aloe for your next beach vacation. Instead, look to scientifically proven erectile dysfunction medications or premature ejaculation treatments to manage your sexual health.
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Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.