A person living with erectile dysfunction (ED) cannot achieve or maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. There are several ways to help treat ED symptoms, including topical creams.

Many scientifically proven treatments are available for ED. Among the newest remedies are topical creams, which are now available in some countries. However, these creams are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States.

Read on to find out more about topical creams for ED, whether they work, and potential risks.

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ED is a condition where a person cannot engage in satisfying sexual intercourse because the penis is unable to achieve or maintain an erection.

A person may experience ED due to psychological or physiological reasons. In some cases, ED could stem from a combination of both.

Psychological reasons for ED include:

Physiological reasons for ED can include:

  • age
  • underlying health conditions
  • side effects of certain medications
  • vasculogenic sources, such as problems with the blood
  • surgeries, such as a prostatectomy

Topical creams are now approved by some countries’ regulatory bodies to treat ED.

A 2016 review examines topical alprostadil cream, which enables the blood vessels to expand. The authors conclude this drug may be a useful, safe alternative for people unable to take oral medication for ED.

Another review of alprostadil draws a similar outcome and concludes it is beneficial for people with ED.

Although topical alprostadil is available in some countries, the FDA do not currently approve this cream.

However, the drug is available in the U.S. in other forms, including a version that people can inject into the penis, while another comes as a penile suppository.

According to the safety instructions of one topical cream for ED, some common side effects from product use include:

  • mild to moderate local aching, burning or pain
  • discoloration of the penis
  • rashes
  • genital itching
  • penile swelling
  • balanitis
  • penile tingling
  • throbbing numbness

Some uncommon but serious side effects may also include:

People should note that these creams may also have side effects for the partner or partners of the person who uses it. These may include burning or itching in the vagina or anus.

People apply topical ED creams on to the penis surface and surrounding areas. In some cases, a person may need to apply the cream into the urethra.

Exact application instructions may vary between products. However, most creams require people to apply it at least 30 minutes before sexual activity.

A person should consider speaking with a healthcare professional to discover the underlying cause of their ED.

Depending on what the trigger is, they may consider the following alternative treatments:

Sex therapy

If a person’s ED is due to guilt, negative sexual experiences, or concerns relating to intimacy, a sex therapist could help them overcome these issues.

Cock ring and penis pump

A penis pump, such as a vacuum erectile device or VED, works by drawing blood into the penis, which helps achieve an erection. A person can use this alongside a cock ring, which can trap the blood in the penis to maintain the erection.

Click here to learn more about ED rings.

Click here to learn more about ED pumps.

Penis sleeve

According to a 2017 article, penis sleeves may be a suitable strategy to manage ED without drugs or surgery.

A penis sleeve, or external penile prosthetic, is a sex toy that a person places over their penis. Research suggests that people can achieve orgasm with the help of these devices.

Click here to learn more about penis sleeves. [LINK PENDING].

Weight loss

Older research suggests that obesity may cause ED. Therefore, a person with obesity may wish to maintain a moderate weight.


Viagra is a drug that helps stimulate blood flow to the penis, which can help a person achieve an erection. This is usually the first line of treatment for people with ED symptoms.

Change of medication

Sometimes, certain medications may trigger a person’s ED. People should discuss this with their doctor to see if there are alternative medications available.

Stop smoking

A 2014 review shows there is a large amount of evidence that links smoking with ED. People who wish to treat their ED could try techniques to limit or stop smoking.

ED is a condition where a person cannot achieve or maintain an erection. However, several types of treatment could help.

Some evidence suggests topical creams may be a useful treatment for ED. Although these creams are available in other parts of the world, such as Europe and Canada, the FDA does not currently approve the use of these products in the U.S.

People with ED can discuss their symptoms with a doctor, who may recommend appropriate treatment strategies.