The inability to achieve and maintain a stable erection for a sufficient period of time to allow for sexual intercourse is not only frustrating for men but a common problem that many face.
While the treatments for erectile dysfunction are ever-evolving, traditional oral medications remain the primary solution, as alternatives like topical gels are still being developed and tested.
As a result of this, men who are uncomfortable with taking oral medications have asked, “Does Vicks vapor rub help with erectile dysfunction” as a possible replacement or substitute for oral meds?
Why Do Men Turn Away From Conventional Treatments for ED?
With about 30 million men in the United States who have erectile dysfunction (1), many will look into the available treatments, but some will end up not utilizing them.
According to a study done that analyzed 6.2 million health insurance claims for men who had been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, only 25% of them filled a prescription for treatment across the 12-month long study (2).
So, while the medical benefits of treatment are well recognized among men who have erectile dysfunction, there are still existing barriers that cause them to turn away from conventional treatments.
Barriers can include:
- Having to consult with a physician and talk about erectile dysfunction on an on-going basis. This can bring about shame and embarrassment due to it becoming a self-esteem issue.
- Not wanting to subject oneself to the adverse side effects that erectile dysfunction treatments have, including vision problems, heartburn, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, upset stomach, and flushing (3).
- The medications not being effective as sexual attraction to one’s partner is required for the drugs to work. Otherwise, men may not use the medicines as intended due to poor planning ahead or losing track of time.
- Price and ordering. While the price point for erectile dysfunction pills is not extraordinarily expensive, your geographic location can impact this, and the ordering process requires that you have a prescription.
With regards to other treatment options, such as injections, the above barriers remain the same and are the main catalysts in why men are looking for alternatives that are non-prescription based.
The most common home-based option that men come across is Vicks vapor rub, hence why they ask, “Does Vicks vapor rub help with erectile dysfunction”? The answer to this is a bit complicated, as men have seen positive results with it, but it isn’t an approved or a long-term solution.
Why Does Vicks Vapor Rub Help With Erectile Dysfunction Even if Unapproved?
The active ingredient in Vicks vapor rub, which is a topical analgesic agent, is menthol. Menthol works by acting on the transient receptors in potential melastatin channels (TRPM8), which is what elicits the cold sensation we are all familiar with (4).
It works by transferring into the blood vessels that are intertwined with your dermal cells, triggering the TRPM8 channels, causing a burning sensation. As a result of this, the brain dilates these blood vessels, causing that cold sensation.
In addition to this, there is evidence to confirm that menthol has vasodilation effects, inducing through nitric oxide (NO)(5). This means that it can dilate the blood vessels found in the skin, including around the penis in men who have erectile dysfunction.
Men likely see positive effects using Vicks vapor rub because the skin on the penis is so permeable, allowing menthol’s active mechanism to act quickly and, therefore, forcing the brain to dilate the blood vessels within and causing an erection to occur as a result.
Should You Use Vicks Vapor Rub for Erectile Dysfunction?
While Vicks vapor rub can help provide men with an immediate solution to their erectile dysfunction, there is no explicit research to show that it can be used as a long-term solution. So, while the answer to “does Vicks vapor rub help with erectile dysfunction” is yes, it is one that is fraught with issues.
Unlike erectile dysfunction medications, menthol’s vasoactive effects are only apparent after 15-minutes of application and are likely to disappear after 45-minutes (6), not giving you much time to engage in sexual intercourse (6).