Vaseline in Place of Viagra: Is It Safe and Effective?

Can You Use Vaseline in Place of Viagra?

Medically reviewed by Matt Coward, MD, FACS — Written by James Roland on March 17, 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content.

If you experience erectile dysfunction (ED), you may be willing to try just about anything to restore healthy sexual function.

However, there are plenty of potentially dangerous options that people have tried, including the injection of Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products into the penis.

For many years and in many cultures, the practice of injecting or inserting something into the penis to make it larger or to improve sexual stamina has been done, often without the guidance of medical experts.

If you’re tempted to use Vaseline in place of Viagra or any other approved treatment for ED, don’t waste your time or take the risk. There are plenty of safer and more effective options available.

You may also have heard of topical gels or essential oils for ED, but there has yet to be any evidence to suggest that applying Vaseline as a topical treatment to your penis will have any effect on sexual function.

The science

Numerous studies have shown that injecting Vaseline into your penis is a danger, rather than a cure. The practice can lead to:

  • infections
  • serious skin and tissue injury
  • other medical complications

In a small 2008 study of 16 people who were treated for Vaseline injections, researchers found that “urgent surgery” was necessary to prevent further injury.

A 2012 case report concluded that Vaseline injections are usually done without medical supervision and can lead to severe complications if the petroleum jelly or other foreign objects aren’t removed promptly.

Clinical treatments

Instead of trying risky self-help solutions for ED, consider proven medications and other treatments that have a track record of success.

Oral medications

While Viagra, known clinically as sildenafil, may be the best known ED pills, there are other FDA-approved medications. They all vary somewhat in their:

  • potency
  • how quickly they take effect
  • duration of effectiveness
  • side effects

Other ED medications on the market include:

  • Tadalafil (Cialis). It’s available in a generic form and can be taken daily at low doses or as needed in higher doses.
  • Vardenafil (Levitra). It’s available in brand-name and generic versions. it tends to remain effective a little longer than sildenafil.
  • Avanafil (Stendra). It’s not yet available in generic form, Stendra is unique among ED medications in that it can become effective in about 15 minutes, while others take between 30 and 60 minutes to take effect.

Your lifestyle may help determine the best ED medication for you.

Vacuum pumps

This treatment involves the use of a tube that fits over your penis and attaches to a pump that withdraws air from the tube to create a vacuum.

The vacuum created around your penis helps draw blood to fill the blood vessels within and produce an erection. An elastic ring is also placed around the base of your penis to help maintain the erection.

A 2013 research review noted that the use of vacuum devices to treat ED is usually safe and effective, particularly when combined with ED drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors, which include:

  • tadalafil
  • sildenafil
  • other standard medications

Penile injections

Certain medications can be injected into your penis to increase blood flow and create a firmer erection for intercourse. Those include:

  • papaverine
  • phentolamine
  • prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) or alprostadil (Caverject, Edex)

There are also combinations of the above medications available.

Penile implants

Some people choose to treat ED with surgically-implanted, flexible, or inflatable rods that you can activate on demand.

Penile implants are generally reserved for individuals who have not had success with other traditional ED treatments.

Alternative treatments

Many safer and more effective alternatives to Viagra are available, including several prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) supplements, as well as complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, according to a 2016 research review.

Some people have had success using herbal supplements to treat ED. Some OTC products that have been supported by research include:

  • Korean red ginseng. It’s a plant that grows in Asia and may help both ED and alertness with relatively few side effects.
  • L-arginine. It’s an amino acid that serves as a building block for certain proteins. A small 2019 research review of 10 studies found that L-arginine used in doses of 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams significantly improved ED symptoms compared with placebo.
  • Yohimbe. It’s an herbal supplement commonly used in West African cultures, proved to be at least partially effective in treating ED in about one-third of people who participated in an old 1989 study.

Lifestyle changes

In addition, improving your health may improve ED symptoms and provide other benefits, including:

  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • greater cardiovascular fitness

The following lifestyle changes may pay dividends in terms of sexual health:

  • regular aerobic exercise, at least 150 minutes per week
  • maintaining a manageable weight
  • no smoking
  • consuming little or no alcohol
  • maintaining a healthy blood pressure
  • getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night
  • managing stress through meditation, yoga, or other strategies

When to talk with a doctor

The first step in finding the solution that’s right for you is to talk with your primary care physician or a urologist.

And while ED can be an embarrassing and frustrating topic to discuss with anyone, understand that ED is a common condition, affecting an estimated 1 in 3 adults with penises.

In other words, you won’t be the first person to ask your doctor for advice or treatment in this department.

Occasional concern

If ED occurs occasionally, then you may not need any treatment at all. In this case, it may usually be chalked up to:

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • relationship concerns
  • a side effect of misusing alcohol

Keep in mind that ED can be a symptom of many physical and emotional health conditions, including:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • obesity
  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • anxiety

Sometimes treating an underlying condition can lead to improved sexual function.

Persistent concern

If ED is a persistent concern, then a conversation with your doctor is recommended. Your concerns may be an inability to:

  • achieve an erection at all
  • achieve an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory intercourse for you and your partner
  • maintain an erection for the duration necessary for satisfactory intercourse
  • become erect at certain times or with certain partners

Regardless of the nature of your ED, there is a range of treatments that may be helpful. Psychotherapy and relationship counseling may be very helpful too, so you may want to talk with your doctor about referrals for therapy.

But because medications are generally tolerated, the first approach may be a prescription for Viagra or any of the other approved ED medications.

The bottom line

ED can affect several aspects of your life, including self-esteem and relationships, so it’s not something to ignore — especially when viable treatments are available.

And rather than rely on unproven and potentially very harmful treatments on your own — such as injecting Vaseline or any foreign substance into your penis — address this common medical condition with your healthcare professional.

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

Nitroglycerin Gel for ED: Pros, Cons, & Practical Information

About Nitroglycerin Gel for Erectile Dysfunction

Medically reviewed by Matt Coward, MD, FACS — Written by Sara Lindberg on December 16, 2020

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content

Erectile dysfunction (ED) may affect as many as 30 million men in the United States. People with ED experience an inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sex.

You may be familiar with some of the more common treatments for ED, including lifestyle modifications, oral medications that include phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PED5 inhibitors), and penis pumps.

But a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine also looked at the use of nitroglycerin gel or cream as a topical treatment for ED. Although results look promising, it’s important to note that nitroglycerin gel or cream isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ED.

Here’s what you need to know about nitroglycerin as a topical treatment for erectile dysfunction.

What is nitroglycerin?

Nitroglycerin is part of a class called vasodilators, which widen the blood vessels and improve blood flow to allow oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart.

It comes in a variety of forms, including sublingual (under-the-tongue), topical cream or gel, and as a transdermal patch. Nitroglycerin is most often used to prevent angina or attacks of chest pains.

Nitroglycerin for ED

“The idea of treating ED with topical nitroglycerin is not new and was first described in the 1980s,” says Dr. Joseph Brito, a urologist at Yale New Haven Health, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. Brito is also a member of Healthline’s clinical review network.

In general, Brito says nitroglycerin works by dilating the blood vessels, which is why it’s traditionally used for patients with angina or chest pain due to poor cardiac vessel blood flow.

The concept is the same for ED, although Brito says it may have a dual mechanism of action:

  • It widens blood vessels helps blood flow.
  • It relaxes penile smooth muscle, which in turn compresses penile veins and impedes blood flow out of the penis, which causes rigidity.

How does nitroglycerin gel work?

According to Brito, nitroglycerin gel or cream differs from other ED treatments such as oral medications:

“[Topical nitroglycerin] acts as a nitrogen donor to increase local levels of nitric oxide, which works through molecular signaling (cGMP pathway) to cause this response,” he says.

On the other hand, Brito says PDE5 inhibitors (like tadalafil and sildenafil) work at a later step in the chain by inhibiting the breakdown of cGMP.

Nitroglycerin for ED doesn’t have enough research

That said, Brito points out that nitroglycerin gel or cream is currently not approved by the FDA to treat ED.

Moreover, Brito points out that the American Urological Association guideline on erectile dysfunction published in 2018 didn’t include topical nitroglycerin as a suggested treatment for men with ED.

“Though this therapy was not specifically mentioned, the authors did state ‘the use of these treatments may preclude the use of other treatments known to be effective,’ and felt more research was needed,” he explains.

And there’s another factor to consider: Nitroglycerin cream on the outside of the penis might be transferred to your partner.

Why are people interested nitroglycerin gel for ED?

“Nitroglycerin may have some benefits over standard oral ED medications,” Brito says.

The onset of topical nitroglycerin is between 10 and 20 minutes, which Brito says is better than the quickest acting oral agents, with sildenafil taking at least 30 minutes.

In fact, the 2018 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 44 percent of patients saw erection beginning within 5 minutes of application. Seventy percent of the men noticed an erection within 10 minutes.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 232 men with ED who participated in two 4-week trials. One trial used a 0.2 percent glyceryl trinitrate topical gel before sex, and the other used a placebo gel.

“This may help with spontaneity, which can be an issue for couples using oral agents,” Brito explains.

Another benefit, Brito says, is that unlike other ED treatments like oral agents, nitroglycerin doesn’t need to pass through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

“Since absorption of oral agents like sildenafil is strongly affected by food intake, the medications are much more effective when taken on an empty stomach,” he says. This requires more planning and doesn’t always allow for spontaneity.

Where to buy nitroglycerin for ED

Nitroglycerin gel or cream is currently not approved by the FDA to treat ED.

If you have questions about this topical treatment, you need to talk with a doctor who knows your medical history. A prescription is needed for nitroglycerin.

How to take nitroglycerin gel for ED

Nitroglycerin use is managed by your doctor. Don’t use or apply this topical treatment without guidance.

According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the concentration studied was 0.2 percent, which Brito says likely explains why the effect was best for men with mild ED.

He also points out that other studies used concentrations of 0.2 to 0.8 percent for patients with more severe ED, who likely needing higher concentrations.

In general, Brito says people prescribed nitroglycerin by their doctor should apply a small amount (pea-sized) to the head of the penis.

Side effects and contraindications

Nitroglycerin is certainly not for everyone. According to a 2018 review, taking nitroglycerin-based medications with certain PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra is contraindicated. Using them together can result in a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure and potentially death.

According to Brito, some drawbacks of topical nitroglycerin include possible transmission to the partner, which can lead to the partner sharing in side effects, especially low blood pressure. This can lead to headache and nasal congestion.

Other treatments for ED

There are several treatments available for ED, including:

  • oral medications that include PDE5 inhibitors such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis). Other oral medications include vardenafil HCL (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra)
  • erectile dysfunction pump (penis or vacuum pump)
  • penile injections
  • inflatable penile prosthesis
  • psychotherapy (talk therapy) for emotional or psychological issues related to ED
  • suppositories (Alprostadil)
  • counseling
  • diet modifications
  • exercise
  • stress reduction

The takeaway

Although some research points to the effectiveness of nitroglycerin gel or cream for improving the symptoms of ED, it’s currently not approved by the FDA as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

If you have ED or think you may have ED, it’s important that you talk with a doctor about any treatment options. They can talk with you about the range of options, including lifestyle modifications, counseling, oral agents, penis pumps, surgery, and implants.

Zapping the penis with sound waves could tackle erectile dysfunction ‘by stimulating the growth of nerve fibres and blood vessels’

Zapping the penis with sound waves could tackle erectile dysfunction ‘by stimulating the growth of nerve fibres and blood vessels’

  • Scientists tested low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy 
  • It delivers up to 2,400 pulses of sound to the shaft of the penis over 20 minutes
  • It worked significantly better than a standard erectile dysfunction pill alone 
  • Italian researchers said the pulses boost growth hormones to heal damage 

By Vanessa Chalmers Health Reporter For Mailonline

This article is a repost which originally appeared on DailyMail

Zapping the penis with sound waves could tackle erectile dysfunction, a study suggests.

Scientists tested the relatively new treatment alongside a standard pill on a group of men struggling with impotence.

They found six sessions of up to 2,400 pulses of acoustic energy to the penis gave significantly better results than the pill alone.

It is believed to work by stimulating the growth of new nerve fibres and blood vessels, restoring penis function.

The intense vibrations to the shaft during the 20-minute sessions are not painful, according to the researchers.
Shockwaves fired through the penis could be used to treat erectile dysfunction

Shockwaves fired through the penis could be used to treat erectile dysfunction

Paolo Verze, of University of Naples Federico II, Italy, said low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (LiESWT) is a ‘promising’ therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED).

The 156 study participants all had type 2 diabetes, as ED is a common problem often with more severity among those with diabetes.

It can stem from damage to nerves and blood vessels caused by poor long-term blood sugar control.

In the study, patients took a daily pill of tadalafil, branded Cialis, a standard treatment for ED, for 12 weeks.

However, half of them also had LiESWT twice a week for three weeks at the beginning of the study.

The severity of participants’ erectile dysfunction was measured using the 5-Item International Index of Erectile Function test.


Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is when a man is unable to get or maintain an erection.

It is more common in the over-40s but affects men of all ages.

Erectile dysfunction affects half of men aged between 40 and 70 years old, according to the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

A psychological component, often called ‘performance anxiety’ is common in men with impotence. However, a purely psychological problem is seen in only 10 per cent.

It can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, side effects of medication, or hormonal issues.

Of the 90 per cent of men who have an underlying physical cause, the main abnormalities found are cardiovascular disease (40 per cent), diabetes (33 per cent) and hormone problems and drugs (11 per cent).

Failure to stay erect is usually due to tiredness, stress, anxiety or alcohol, and is not a cause for concern.

Treatment usually involves lifestyle modification first, as obesity, smoking, cycling too much, drinking too much, and stress can trigger ED.

Medication with a phosphodiesterase inhibitor such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) or avanafil (Spedra) is the second choices.

Scores of 25–22 indicate no erectile dysfunction while five to seven indicate severe erectile dysfunction.

At the beginning, the men aged 57 on average, had an erectile dysfunction score of 15.5. Their score was measured four weeks, 12 weeks and 24 weeks after the study.

The scores improved significantly in both groups at four weeks, by 2.9 in the tadalafil only group, and 3.9 in the LiESWT group.

At 12 weeks, scores had improved by 3.3 in the tadalafil only group, and 4.3 in the LiESWT group.

By 24 weeks, the differences were more evident. Those who had the LiESWT had seen their erectile dysfunction improved by 3.8 compared to the 1.8 who did not have it.

A second study investigated what number of shockwaves were most effective – 1,500, 1,800 or 2,400 pulses per session.

Those who had the most intense shockwave therapy of 2,400 saw their erectile dysfunction improve the most, by 4.7 points.

Overall, the combined approach of tadalafil and LiESWT at 2,400 pulses gave ‘significant advantage’ compared to those who only had tadalafil, the researchers said.

Writing in the Asian Journal of Andrology, the authors shockwave therapy is believed to stimulate pathways that encourage growth factors.

A growth factor is a natural substance in the body which helps with healing and cell growth.

This, Dr Verze and colleagues said, may regenerate nerve fibres and blood vessels in the penis, improving blood flow.

‘Consequently, LiESWT has the potential to restore natural erections and cure the disease,’ they claim.

The study was welcomed by sexual health expert Dr Diana Gall, from online ­service Doctor 4 U.

She told The Sun: ‘Drugs such as tadalafil have long been used to treat erectile problems.

‘But shockwave therapy is an emerging weapon in the sexual health armoury and this new study offers some encouraging results.

‘When combined with erection medication, it could now offer real hope for those who suffer erectile dysfunction, particularly among the one in ten men over 40 in the UK who also have diabetes.’

Erectile dysfunction affects half of men aged between 40 and 70 years old, according to the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

Of the 90 per cent of men who have an underlying physical cause, rather than a mental struggle, a third have diabetes.