Erectile dysfunction (ED) happens when you can’t get an erection or keep an erection long enough to have penetrative sexual intercourse.

ED is relatively common, affecting as many as 30 million men in the United States alone. ED can have a variety of causes, from stress and depression to heart disease and obesity.

And ED has almost as many purported home remedies as causes — including apple cider vinegar, a fermented liquid made from apples that’s easy to find in many stores. But is there any evidence that it can treat or cure ED?

Read on to learn whether apple cider vinegar can help with erectile dysfunction, some possible risks and side effects of using it, and when to see a doctor for ED if home remedies aren’t working.

Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar that’s made from apples fermented in yeast and sugar. It’s popularly used in pickles, salad dressings, marinades, kombucha mixtures, and as a beverage on its own.

Apple cider vinegar is made using the following process:

  1. Apples are crushed up and mixed with yeast.
  2. Over time, yeast ferments the natural sugars in the apples and turns them into alcohol.
  3. Bacteria are added to the mixture to continue fermentation and produce acetic acid.

Apple cider vinegar contains many beneficial compounds that result from the fermentation process. Acetic acid is one of these ingredients that’s purported to give apple cider vinegar its health benefits. This is why apple cider vinegar has been used as a home remedy for many common health conditions for many years.

No studies currently exist that link apple cider vinegar directly to improvement in ED symptoms. ED also has many causes that can make it difficult to know exactly how apple cider vinegar can help, including:

But some possible health benefits of apple cider vinegar have been explored in both human and animal studies include:

And the idea that apple cider vinegar can treat erectile dysfunction may come from the fact that it helps treat some of the causes and risk factors for ED, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes: Men who have type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop ED. A 2020 review of six studies involved 317 participants suggests that vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, could lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Overweight: Having overweight can also be a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. A 2018 clinical trial found that people who took 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day daily for 12 weeks lost noticeably more weight and body fat than those who didn’t take any.
  • Heart disease: Heart disease is also a risk factor for ED. No human studies have linked apple cider vinegar to reducing heart disease risk. But a 2018 study conducted on rats suggests that it can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels linked to heart disease.
  • Cholesterol: A 2014 review of studies found that chlorogenic acid in apple cider vinegar could help stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and help prevent heart disease linked to high cholesterol.

But apple cider vinegar has not yet been linked to treatment of any disease, and it’s not meant to be a substitute for proven weight loss treatments like exercise and dietary changes. More research is needed to understand its relationship with ED and other related sexual health conditions.

Apple cider vinegar can be used in many recipes and also be taken as a daily supplement.

Here are some ways you can try apple cider vinegar at home:

  • Plain supplement: Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar by mouth per day. This is the same dose used in some human medical studies. But be careful not to take much more, as it may cause harm.
  • Mix in marinades: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a meat marinade. Vinegar is a common ingredient in marinades. Though some will cook out when exposed to heat, it will retain some properties.
  • Use in salad dressings: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons raw in a homemade salad dressing.
  • Use in ferments: Add a dash to homemade pickles, or make fermented foods with the condiment.

Apple cider vinegar is not a medical treatment for erectile dysfunction, and it shouldn’t replace treatment for diabetes or weight problems. Talk with a doctor about any health concerns you have about ED and follow their plan of care.

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acids. And while acetic acid may be one of the beneficial ingredients in apple cider vinegar, consuming it raw can cause stomach pain or discomfort.

Acetic acid can also cause damage to the throat, mouth, and esophagus if taken in high amounts — although this isn’t known to be very likely when it’s diluted in apple cider vinegar and other vinegars that are safe to use at home.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may also erode tooth enamel. A 2021 study suggests that taking even the recommended dose of 2 tablespoons per day for eight weeks or more is linked to noticeable tooth erosion.

People who take certain diuretic or insulin medications should not use apple cider vinegar regularly. It can make these medications less effective. It can also lower levels of potassium and cause hypokalemia, which happens when levels of potassium in your blood drop to dangerously low levels.

Stop taking apple cider vinegar immediately and see a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Taking apple cider vinegar daily may have some positive effects on your health that can address some of the underlying causes of ED.

But no research definitively proves that apple cider vinegar can treat erectile dysfunction or other health problems that can result in ED.

There’s nothing wrong with adding a little apple cider vinegar to your daily diet. A tablespoon or two a day has some demonstrated effects that can benefit your overall health at very little cost or risk.