Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/23/2021
The magical, simple erectile dysfunction cure has probably been the true topic of many a bold mission to uncharted territories over the years. If the internet is any indication (and it is), guys will waste any amount of time, money and common sense in the pursuit of something to make their penis perform like it’s in a Vegas show.
We have a feeling you’re here hoping for exactly that kind of solution to the problem. You’re not alone in the search.
What’s behind the simple ED trick quest? Well, there are a few things, most likely: convenience, avoidance and shame. Wouldn’t it solve all the problems if you never had to consult a healthcare provider, fill a prescription or talk to your partner about these kinds of problems?
If you think you might have ED, there is sadly no magic bullet — no simple trick to cure ED. Unfortunately, ED is a more complicated problem than one “life hack” will ever solve. The good news is there are plenty of effective treatments that can provide ED solutions.
But let’s talk about why there’s no magic fix.
Understanding the problem of dysfunction with erections requires a look at how they’re supposed to work. Erections occur when blood flow increases to the penis’s blood vessels, until it is trapped in the corpora cavernosa: two long chambers built for storage.
Your brain sends chemical communications to those blood vessels when you get turned on. They tell the chambers to dilate and fill, and when that happens, you get an erection.
Erectile dysfunction, then, is when something goes awry and prevents this from happening.
Poor diet, stress, anxiety and obesity: these are a few of the many factors that can cause erectile dysfunction. It can also be caused by antidepressants, lifestyle choices, drug usage, hormone imbalances, and emotions.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines erectile dysfunction as “a condition in which you are unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse.” ED is common; it affects an estimated 52 percent of men in the U.S. between the ages of 40 and 70, or a total between 30 million and 50 million men, nationwide.
In order to combat ED, you need to do something to restart or regulate the process of getting hard. So as you can expect, there have been a lot of gimmicks over the years. People are always looking for or marketing new simple solutions.
Some of them have even been investigated through limited research, which is insufficient to provide much proof.
For instance, a study once looked at menthol (think Vicks VapoRub®) as a possible medicine cabinet tool for ED quick fixes.
Menthol has been seen in limited studies to be a “vasodilator” — something that promotes vascular dilation.
The study, published in 2016, focused on a small group of men saw positive results, but the study was flawed: menthol works on skin-level (cutaneous) blood vessels, but it wouldn’t affect the ones inside your penis.
The trial was performed on an arm, too — and while we can all wish otherwise, arms and penises have very little in common.
There’s also herbal Viagra® — the stuff you buy in gas stations. an unregulated supplement pedaling the same stuff prescription ED medications like Viagra, but though “natural” compounds.
We’ve written about these products before, but to keep it short, these “medications” are unsafe.
In 2013 the Pharmacognosy Review concluded, “The available drugs and treatments have limited efficacy, unpleasant side effects, and contraindications in certain disease conditions. Due to unavailability of the safety data, unclear mechanisms, and lack of knowledge to support the extensive use of these substances, uses of these products may be risky to the human being.”
There are some gadgets that might seem like the solution, but while they may offer more science than horny goat weed, it’s no more simple.
Penis sleeves, for one, work great when they work, but there are numerous complications associated with finding the right one, as problems can be caused with effectiveness by incorrect fit, shape and thickness.
Regardless, a 2019 scientific said they have “been slow to gain acceptance in the scientific community.”
Cock rings also present some promise, as they’re effectively designed devices for keeping the blood in. The only problem? They don’t do anything about getting the blood in there in the first place.
Male vibrators have particular uses as well. They can help men with spinal cord injuries ejaculate, and can be enjoyable additions to partner sex. But as for making you get hard? Nothing conclusive.
As you might suspect, the most effective ED treatment techniques are actually the most scientifically sound ones: prescription medications taken orally on a regular basis, lifestyle changes to improve vascular and other health issues, and therapy.
The fact is that your ED is more than likely caused either by something a pill can treat, by unhealthy lifestyle, or by psychological issues (performance anxiety, low self-esteem) that require more involved treatment than you can pick up alongside lottery tickets or off of Amazon.
The next step is talking to a healthcare professional, who can better help you in the diagnosis of your particular course of ED, and make recommendations for treatments that will be effective.
If lifestyle is an issue for you, your healthcare provider may recommend changes like more exercise, better diet, weight loss, stress reduction, or even just drinking more water and less booze.
For the psychological causes of ED, a healthcare professional may refer you for therapy, which will help you address whatever issues are preventing you from enjoying yourself and your partner in the bedroom, kitchen, hallway, etc.
Both tadalafil and sildenafil (generic Viagra) are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They work to prolong dilation of blood vessels in your penis by blocking the breakdown of certain substances in your body.
Depending on your needs, you may prefer a different prescription because of the length of their effects (sildenafil is best taken before activity, while tadalafil can be taken once daily or as needed).
Because these medications can be used to treat hypertension, it’s important to tell your healthcare provider if you are taking anything for blood pressure or hypertension, or if you’re taking nitrates — the side effects from taking both can be problematic.
We’re sorry for the disappointment. Men are always looking for simple, easy fixes to make this problem go away. We get it: it’s hard to talk about this stuff, and it’s hard to accept it may be a lifelong problem in some cases.
But the important thing to take away from this is that there is no simple cure, and unfortunately it is very necessary to get yourself in front of a healthcare professional for help, guidance, and advice.
Treating this problem alone isn’t treating it. It’s not going away, and it’s potentially getting worse.
If you’re just learning about ED, we can help. Hims has resources to help you determine if either tadalafil (Cialis) or sildenafil (Viagra) are right for you.