Cbd oil spilled out onto bed sheets

CBD for Erectile Dysfunction: Does It Really Work?

A urologist weighs in.

From CBD-infused lube and condoms to CBD gummies that tout libido-boosting benefits, the cannabis trend has hit the sexual enhancement industry hard. Subreddits like r/CBD are flooded with guys sharing tips on how to use topical CBD oil to improve sexual performance and help treat erectile dysfunction. But is this anecdotal advice legit?

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD, is a cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD isn’t intoxicating and doesn’t impair function. But it does have the potential to interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS involves a network of receptors that help regulate processes such as mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune response (1, 2, 3). CBD can activate these cannabinoid receptors.

CBD is available in a variety of forms, including tinctures, edibles like gummies, creams, and, the one widely discussed for helping erections: CBD oil.

Experts are learning more about the potential health benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids all the time. Currently, CBD is only FDA-approved to help treat seizure disorders, but there’s ongoing research into other potential benefits for other health conditions. “Most studies on CBD have focused on areas such as chronic pain management, anxiety, and seizure disorders,” says Jamin V. Brahmbhatt, M.D., an Orlando-based board-certified urologist.

What is Erectile Dysfunction, Exactly?

ED is when you regularly can’t get or keep an erection long enough to have satisfying sex. 

The causes of ED are wide-ranging and include hormonal imbalances (such as low testosterone), medications, stress, and health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, obesity, and high cholesterol.

Potential Benefits of CBD Oil for Erectile Dysfunction

There’s a lack of clinical studies specifically on the benefits of CBD for erectile dysfunction or improving sexual function in men. “Any conclusions about CBD’s effectiveness in treating erectile dysfunction should be considered speculative,” says Brahmbatt.

That said, some studies have found that the effects of CBD may have some potential in reducing anxiety and helping to lower blood pressure, both of which can contribute to erectile dysfunction. So guys who experience ED from an anxiety disorder or high blood pressure may get some indirect benefits from CBD.

How to Use CBD Oil for Erectile Dysfunction

Products offered to help you to reap potential benefits like improved blood flow or reduced anxiety can be applied directly to your penis, or you can take them orally, depending on the product instructions. After discussing CBD use with your healthcare provider and getting the green light, selecting the right product is important.

“Purchase a high-quality product from a reputable source. Look for products that have undergone third-party lab testing and contain accurate labeling,” Brahmbhatt says.

There are three main forms of CBD on the market: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate.

  • Isolate CBD: This is pure CBD; it doesn’t contain any other compounds.
  • Broad spectrum CBD: Does not contain THC, but it can constrain other cannabinoids
  • Full-spectrum CBD: Contains CBD and other cannabinoids, including trace amounts (up to .03%) of THC.

Your doctor will likely suggest that you “begin with a low dose of CBD and gradually increase it as needed, while closely monitoring your symptoms and any potential side effects,” Brahmbhatt says.

Avoid applying CBD oil or cream topically to your penis if you’re using condoms because oil-based products can deteriorate the latex. Check out the best CBD products we found online.

Is low testosterone sabotaging your performance? Get answers with Hone’s comprehensive at-home hormone test. If you qualify, treatments for low T and ED are delivered right to your door. 

How Might CBD Help With ED?

CBD oil is unlikely to directly treat erectile dysfunction, but it may indirectly help with ED in a few indirect ways.

Improved blood flow

CBD has shown promise in improving blood flow by stimulating the production of nitric oxide in your blood (4, 5). Nitric oxide is a molecule that signals to your blood vessels to widen, which increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure (6). That includes the blood vessels in your penis that help you get hard.

Less performance anxiety

Mental health issues including anxiety are one of the most common psychological causes for erectile dysfunction. Research suggests that CBD may have a calming effect on the central nervous system, which may help reduce erection-killing performance anxiety.

CBD, taken orally, reduced the anxiety of nearly 80% of study participants within the first month of one human study published in 2019 (8). Even better: participants reported that their anxiety levels remained low throughout the study period.

But Is It Safe?

Generally, yes. Provided, of course, that a healthcare professional has OK’d it.

Talking to your doctor about CBD may feel like overkill, but you may need to steer clear of it if you have certain health issues or medical conditions, or you’re taking a medication that doesn’t play nicely with cannabinoids.

For example, CBD may interact with other ED treatments like sildenafil (Viagra): Cannabis is an inhibitor of CYP450 enzymes, which help metabolize sildenafil. This means that taking both together may have the potential to amplify the side effects, of the sildenafil, such as dangerously low blood pressure.

Are there any side effects to CBD?

“Always let your doctor know you are thinking of starting CBD or any supplement to ensure there are no cross-reactions or unwanted side effects,” Brahmbhatt warns.

When using CBD, monitor for side effects like fatigue, drowsiness, reduced appetite, dry mouth, or diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic. If these symptoms arise, stop using the CBD product and contact your doctor for medical advice.

Alternative Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Until there’s more rigorous clinical evidence that CBD oil can be used for erectile dysfunction, you may want to consider other treatment options to improve your sexual health

If you’re struggling to get—and stay—hard, talk to your doctor. You might be a good candidate for drug treatments like PDE5 inhibitors (like Viagra or Cialis). If your erectile dysfunction is caused by low testosterone levels (one hint this may be the case: in addition to ED you have a low sex drive), your doctor may suggest testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Is low testosterone sabotaging your performance? Get answers with Hone’s comprehensive at-home hormone test. If you qualify, treatments for low T and ED are delivered right to your door.