Erectile dysfunction

Almost all men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction (ED) during their lifetimes. It becomes more common with age. Acute, or occasional, ED is often a minor problem. Many men will experience this at some point in their lives, and it often resolves itself on its own.

However, chronic ED is a complex problem. It can have many different causes. Some causes are psychological. Most causes are physical and can involve your nervous system, blood vessels, and hormones. Luckily, most of the physical causes of ED can be treated, though not necessarily with ED creams.

Learn more: What are the causes of ED? »

While many drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ED, the FDA has not yet approved a medicated cream for the treatment of this condition. On the contrary, the FDA has even issued a warning about possible risks of using certain products that claim to treat ED. You may have heard about Vitaros or creams that can contain L-arginine used to treat ED.


For the last decade, pharmaceutical companies have been testing and developing topical creams that contain the drug alprostadil. The brand-name drug Vitaros is a cream formulation of alprostadil. It’s approved in Canada and Europe, but it has not yet been approved by the FDA. However, other forms of alprostadil are currently available in the United States to treat ED, including an injectable solution and a penile suppository.


Some over-the-counter creams that promise to treat ED contain L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in your body. One of its functions is vasodilation, meaning it helps increase blood flow. However, no study results confirm that L-arginine creams are effective.

Get the facts: L-arginine and erectile dysfunction treatment »

The FDA warns men against purchasing certain supplements and creams that promise to treat ED. Most of these products do not list the ingredients. These undisclosed ingredients might cause severe side effects or interact with other medications you take. If you are considering buying any of these over-the-counter or online ED treatments, talk to your doctor first to make sure they’re safe for you.

ED medications can cause some serious side effects, including prolonged erections and low blood pressure (hypotension). They are not common, but they can require medical attention. For that reason, you should talk with your doctor before using more than one treatment. You should only combine ED treatments after you have the approval of your doctor.

If you have trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, you’re better off making an appointment to see your doctor instead of searching for a solution on your own. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause for your ED and suggest treatment that targets the underlying problem. Treatments for ED are very successful for most men. The sooner you get the right treatment, the sooner you can relieve your erectile issues. For more information, read about prescription medications used to treat ED.