Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a condition in which the penis cannot achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

Erectile dysfunction is a very common condition, affecting approximately 30 million people with penises in the United States. In fact, most people with penises will experience episodes of erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. However, when this happens more than 50% of the time, there is likely an underlying issue.

When it comes to erectile dysfunction, more than one factor is often involved, including both psychological and physical ones. Risk factors for erectile dysfunction include heart disease, diabetes, advanced age, depression, and anxiety.

A new option for the treatment of erectile dysfunction is erectile dysfunction cream, which is applied topically. Read on to learn more about ED cream, including its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings and risks, as well as other potential treatment options.

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erectile dysfunction cream

The traditional treatment for ED is to take oral phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. However, these drugs, such as Viagra, are not safe for all patients with erectile dysfunction due to systemic side effects and drug interactions (two or more drugs reacting with each other). For example, these drugs can lower blood pressure, which is dangerous for people with heart conditions such as angina, severe chest pain.

Erectile dysfunction creams, also known as erection creams, are a newer form of erectile dysfunction treatment. These medicated creams are applied topically to the penis before intercourse. These drugs are potentially linked to fewer systemic side effects, especially for people with diabetes or heart disease.

It is important to note that research is still quite limited regarding the effectiveness and safety of ED cream. No erection cream is currently FDA approved.

That said, some studies have shown that ED creams could be an effective treatment option in the future, especially when they contain the ingredient alprostadil.

Alprostadil Cream

Vitaros is a type of erectile dysfunction cream. It contains the ingredient alprostadil, a natural prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are hormones responsible for many functions, including the opening and closing of blood vessels.

A 2016 research review looked at the efficacy and safety of alprostadil cream and found it to be a well-tolerated and effective alternative treatment for erectile dysfunction.

However, the review also pointed out that more clinical trials are still needed to fully understand the true safety and effectiveness of alprostadil cream, especially in populations with multiple comorbidities (conditions that exist with other conditions) or non-vascular cases of ED (those not associated with blood flow in blood vessels).

FDA Warnings

Vitaros is not yet FDA approved. In fact, according to Reuters, it was rejected by the FDA in 2018 for the second time in 10 years.

The FDA has issued warnings against over-the-counter (OTC) sexual enhancement products, citing hidden active ingredients that may be harmful.

Always talk to your doctor before incorporating any medication into your life, including those that are available over the counter.


Although alprostadil Vitaros cream is generally well tolerated, a 2016 study reported that users experienced mild, short-lived side effects, including genital pain, tenderness, and skin redness.

Additionally, the following populations should not use alprostadil cream:

Other ED Treatments

If ED cream doesn’t seem like the right treatment method for you, there are a number of other options available. Some of them include:

  • Vacuum mounting device (VED): This type of treatment consists of a plastic tube and a lubricant that is fitted around the penis. Air is pumped out of the tube, creating a vacuum effect, which helps draw blood into the shaft of the penis, causing an erection.
  • Intraurethral alprostadil: This medication is a type of synthetic vasodilator (widens blood vessels) suppository that is inserted into the urethra to relieve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
  • Penile injection therapy: These injections contain drugs to induce an erection, such as papaverine, phentolamine or alprostadil. They can usually be self-administered at home, with an erection following an injection lasting five to 15 minutes.


Currently, ED cream is not commonly used in clinical practice, so it has some limitations when it comes to using it as a treatment option. Other treatments, such as oral medications, injections, and penile pumps, are more likely to be used to relieve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

A word from Verywell

Erectile dysfunction can be an upsetting and isolating condition. However, there are treatment options available for people struggling with erectile dysfunction. For most people, oral phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, such as Viagra, are prescribed. However, given the risks for certain populations, these medications are not always the best option.

That said, once it gets FDA approval, erectile dysfunction cream could be a great future option for people struggling with erectile dysfunction and unable to tolerate other forms of treatment.

In the meantime, talk to your healthcare provider if you’re having repeated problems with ED. A doctor can identify any underlying causes that can be treated, which may help with any erectile dysfunction you are experiencing. Remember, there is nothing to be ashamed of. ED is incredibly common.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you use erectile dysfunction cream?

    Erectile dysfunction cream is simply applied to the penis directly before intercourse.

  • Where can I buy topical erectile dysfunction cream?

    Erection creams for erectile dysfunction can be purchased over-the-counter, although this is not recommended (or approved) by the FDA. Speak to your doctor before incorporating any new drug regimen, including topical treatments like alprostadil cream.