Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/23/2021
Chances are, you’ve used aloe vera at some point in your life. Derived from the aloe vera plant, this topical gel is most commonly known as a cooling treatment for sunburns.
But aloe vera has also been a bit of a buzzy ingredient lately with ties to other health benefits. It’s popping up in skincare lines as a hydrating ingredient and there’s even aloe vera juice you can drink, which some think supports collagen in the skin.
As for aloe vera’s benefits specifically for men? Well, aloe vera gel is being used for male enhancement purposes.
Yup, you read that right. The gel that comes from this cactus-like plant is thought to improve erections. But does it actually work?
Before we answer that, let’s learn a little bit more about male enhancement.
Male enhancement—it’s a pretty vague term, right? Generally, it references anything that can help improve the appearance, size or function of the penis.
In fact, it’s reported that over 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 experience ED at some point in their life.
But it’s not just something that affects older men. One study showed a quarter of men newly diagnosed with ED are under forty.
Erectile dysfunction is defined as not being able to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex and it occurs when something goes awry with the natural penile function that leads to an erection.
So, what has to happen biologically to get a natural erection? Let us explain! When you get aroused, your brain sends chemicals to blood vessels in the penis.
Blood flow increases and it gets trapped in the corpora cavernosa (two long chambers in the penis).
In addition to age, issues like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, drinking alcohol and obesity can contribute to the development of ED.
There are many treatments available to treat ED (more on that later) and many think aloe vera is a good natural option.
To put it bluntly, no one knows — at least not yet. There’s simply not enough evidence to definitively determine if an aloe vera topical gel can improve sexual function in men.
There is limited research that has looked into the effectiveness of aloe products — and most studies have been conducted on animals.
For example, a 2017 study found that using aloe on rats potentially enhanced libido. And a 2014 study found there were potential benefits to sperm health and hormone levels in mice that were injected with an aloe vera compound.
But not all the research is positive. In a 2011 study with animals, topical aloe vera reduced sperm concentration and quality. Similarly, a 2015 study found that aloe vera negatively affected the fertility of male rats.
Limited positive findings along with research showing potential risk, not to mention the fact that the majority of research involves animals means you might want to skip aloe vera as a male enhancement treatment.
If you do want to try it, it’s best to talk to a healthcare professional first.
Now that you know the jury is still out on whether or not aloe vera has benefits for men, here are some other options proven to work.
This is the generic name for Viagra® — the most common ED medication out there.
This prescription medication treats ED by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation.
Tadalafil is the generic version of Cialis®. Another commonly prescribed ED medication, it’s a PDE5 inhibitor just like sildenafil. This means that it also works by encouraging blood flow to the penis.
Here’s how it differs from sildenafil: Tadalafil is referred to as the “weekend” ED medication because it can improve performance for up to 36 hours.
Another prescription ED medication is the active ingredient in Levitra®. Like sildenafil, it works within 30 to 60 minutes of taking it and lasts for about five hours.
In a clinical trial, 75 percent of men said they achieved an erection that was good enough for sex after using the 10mg dose, while 80 percent of men said the same after taking a 20mg dose.
This is a newer ED medication — the brand name is Stendra®. Like sildenafil and tadalafil, it is also a PDE5 inhibitor.
The major perk of avanafil is that it works after just 15 minutes. It’s also thought to cause fewer side effects.
There are a number of devices you can purchase that are marketed as assisting with erectile dysfunction. These types of devices include vibrators, external support devices, and implants.
The intention of a penile vibrator is to stimulate your penis so that blood flows to the area.
Similarly, pumps create a suction to pull blood into the penis. After that, you put a plastic ring around the base of your penis to keep the blood there.
There are also inflatable penile implants, which work in a similar way.
New-ish to the market is an external support device called the Erektor®. It has two rings attached to either side of a rod.
The penis goes into the rings and the rod provides rigidity for intercourse.
If your healthcare professional can’t find any physiological reason for your male enhancement needs, your ED could be caused by something psychological.
A mental health provider can assist you in figuring out what could be going on.
While there is a little bit of research that shows the benefits of aloe vera when it comes to male enhancement, there are also studies that show it can have a negative impact.
So you may want to keep your aloe gel for your next sunburn or to soothe irritated skin.
Thankfully, there are many other ways you can treat erection issues. From penis pumps to ED medication, you just need to determine what’s best for you.