Online research can be an okay way to narrow down causes of sudden symptoms and double-check your ailments, but we also know — and hope you know, too — that message boards aren’t the best place to get the best male health support, especially if you have erectile dysfunction (ED).
Case in point: the myth that Vicks VapoRub® can help with the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Despite literally no scientific studies on this topic, internet users are nevertheless constantly spreading the same rumors that over-the-counter VapoRub and its active ingredients can have some benefits for natural male enhancement, penis enlargement, ejaculation or other kinds of sexual enhancement. The evidence: “trust me bro.”
Below, we’ve explained why the best male sexual enhancement (of any kind) is not, in fact, a cream people use for chest colds, but rather a list of other things that research actually supports. We’ve also covered how VapoRub works, the risks of misuse and the alternatives to look into instead.
Vicks VapoRub is an over-the-counter topical containing camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol. Officially, Vicks is an analgesic — a pain reliever — and cough suppressant.
People use Vicks vapor rub products for a variety of applications — some think it opens up your sinuses when you’re congested, others think it can treat colds, or at least their symptoms.
Strictly speaking, it doesn’t do any of that.
We’re going to be really blunt here: while your mom or grandmother may have slathered the stuff on your chest to combat childhood illnesses, there’s zero evidence it does anything other than trick your brain.
Unfortunately for all the guys out there searching their medicine cabinets for quick erectile dysfunction relief, Vicks is also not much of an alternative to male enhancement pills, ED medications and the like.
We’ve read the same rumors online, and from our research, the only semi-legitimate explanation has to do with research into the topical benefits of some compounds found in Vicks.
The problem is that this study — which, again, is one of the only ones out there — looked exclusively at cutaneous vasodilation, which is dilation of the blood vessels on top of the skin, not the ones deep underneath it.
As you might guess, the blood vessels on top of the skin aren’t the ones that help you get an erection.
Even the most optimistic research — a study of topical menthol for ED — only determined that it was a vastly underexplored research area, and that more studies are needed.
So, there is no scientific evidence (let alone medical guidance) that suggests Vicks is safe or beneficial for use on your penis.
Because Vicks isn’t a treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for anything at all, there’s also no official accounting of the risks of using it or the side effects you may experience.
Camphor, for instance, can be deadly if ingested, so do not think about swallowing it.
Menthol, meanwhile, can irritate your skin if applied in higher concentrations or if you have sensitive skin. While Vicks VapoRub may not be that concentrated, constant application could increase your risk of some skin issues.
As for that beneficial cooling effect, we’re not sure any of the fellas out there (or their partners) want to experience that on their genital surfaces, ya know?
The more affordable FDA-approved medication that treats Erectile Dysfunction at a quarter of the cost. 🙌
Affordable and helps get the job done. Generic Cialis helps you get and maintain your erections through a simple, daily dosage.
Cialis helps you get and keep stronger erections with a daily or as-needed pill.
If you’ve been having erectile function problems for a while, you may have eyeballed supplements and other OTC products for a quick fix. While ED pills are certainly an effective treatment, that weird stuff at gas stations isn’t going to help.
Understanding the factors at work in ED is essential for treatment — and it’s a long list of potential causes. Stress, obesity, anxiety, blood flow issues, illicit and prescribed medications and their side effects can all make it hard to get hard, as can smoking, poor diet, hormone imbalances and more.
Luckily, real treatment options abound.
Pills (as well as our hard mints chewable ED meds) are convenient and fairly simple — ask a healthcare provider today if you’re interested, but make sure to mention problems like high blood pressure or heart health issues when you do.
Other ED treatment options may include lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, dropping weight, exercising, getting more sleep and trying to cut some stress. Therapy can also help. Men with performance anxiety and unaddressed intimacy issues can really see their game turn around in the second half with a little vulnerability to a therapy professional.
If you’re reading this in the first place, we’re guessing you were searching for Vicks as an ED treatment because the internet is less judgmental than a doctor might be.
Nobody’s judging you. An estimated 30 million to 50 million men nationwide experience erectile dysfunction, making it a fairly common condition for adult men — you’re not alone.
Guys tend to avoid talking to doctors (or anyone) about problems with their sex life, and so “home” remedies and non-prescription options are at the top of a lot of lists.
Here’s the thing:
Vicks VapoRub is not the solution.
No studies have demonstrated any benefits of Vicks for ED, and there might even be some serious side effects.
If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, don’t keep using Google as your healthcare provider. Talk to an actual healthcare professional.
Here's a bit of necessary tough love: stop Googling other treatment options and taking advice from less-than-safe sources.
Ready to do something? Our ED resources are a great place to start. Reach out today — and stop putting stuff from the medicine cabinet on your penis.
Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.