Vicks VapoRub for Male Enhancement: Does It Work?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 03/21/2021

Updated 11/18/2023

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.

What Is Vicks Vaporub?

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.

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Can Vicks VapoRub Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

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. 

One study, for example, found that topical menthol could be a vasodilator — essentially something that helps your blood vessels relax, like medications that are prescribed to treat ED. 

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.

Side Effects of Using Vicks VapoRub

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?

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Alternatives to Vicks VapoRub for Male Enhancement

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. 

There are a variety of actually effective ED medications on the market, including Viagra® (sildenafil), Cialis® (tadalafil), Stendra® (avanafil) and others. 

These drugs are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors and actually do work. Specifically, they increase blood flow to your penis and make your chances of getting hard higher. 

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.

Convenient approaches like online therapy can help you address anxiety, depression and whatever else might be standing in your erection’s way or causing psychological ED.

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The Bottom Line on Using Vicks VapoRub in the Bedroom

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.

7 Sources

  1. Sooriyamoorthy T, Leslie SW. Erectile Dysfunction. [Updated 2023 May 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Bodenmann, G., Atkins, D. C., Schär, M., & Poffet, V. (2010). The association between daily stress and sexual activity. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 24(3), 271–279.
  3. Dhaliwal A, Gupta M. PDE5 Inhibitors. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
  4. Menthol topical side effects: Common, severe, long term. (n.d.).
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.-a). Camphor overdose: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus.
  6. Menthol for the treatment of erectile dysfunction: Generation and ... (n.d.-c).
  7. Craighead, D. H., & Alexander, L. M. (2016). Topical menthol increases cutaneous blood flow. Microvascular research, 107, 39–45.
Editorial Standards

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]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

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.

She received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master's degree from Thomas Jefferson University. You can find Katelyn on Doximity for more information.

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