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If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
You’d be hard-pressed to think of any condiment that’s received quite as much hype as apple cider vinegar.
Some proponents treat it like a miracle elixir, suggesting apple cider vinegar (or ACV) can treat everything from digestive issues to erectile dysfunction to type 2 diabetes. But if you’ve seen any press that recommends putting ACV on your penis, put the bottle down and walk away.
While ACV does have health benefits for some things, other claims lack evidence. If you’re going au naturel and heard ACV may help with ED, here’s what you need to know first.
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Why you shouldn’t put ACV on your penis
All vinegars are acids. If you think back to high school chemistry class, you may recall some facts about acids–they’re bitter, they can corrode some metals and plastics, and they burn. Apple cider vinegar is no exception to this rule, and it may burn and damage your skin.
Even diluted ACV can irritate the skin. Researchers in one small study used diluted ACV to treat people with eczema and found that it caused skin irritation in most of the study participants (Luu, 2019). If ACV is painful and irritating to the skin even when it’s dilute, it’s probably not something you’d want to apply to the sensitive skin on your penis.
Can apple cider vinegar help treat erectile dysfunction?
This popular household condiment is used in things like salad dressing, pickled vegetables, shampoo, cleaning products, and more. It has also gained popularity online as a natural remedy for just about everything: high blood sugar, weight management, and even erectile dysfunction (ED). And while there are many effective treatments for ED, ACV probably isn’t one of them.
Benefits of apple cider vinegar
ACV isn’t a substitute for medical treatment, but there have been some studies exploring its benefits for a range of conditions that are also associated with ED. Obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes have all been found to be contributing factors to erectile dysfunction (Kouidrat, 2017).
Studies have shown that people with obesity who eat a reduced-calorie diet and take ACV lose more weight than those on a reduced calorie diet alone (Kondo, 2009; Khezri, 2018). Reversing obesity might help alleviate ED.
While the research isn’t very strong, there is some evidence that ACV may also help lower cholesterol, and high cholesterol is associated with erectile dysfunction (Hadi, 2021).
Some studies even suggest ACV could play a role in controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, though it’s not a replacement for regular care under the guidance of a healthcare professional (Beheshti, 2012). Diabetes is a major contributor to erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: are they linked?
Causes of erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is common, affecting up to 20% of men under the age of 30 and half of all men by the age of 50. There are many different causes, some of which are treatable, and treatment of those underlying conditions can improve erectile function. Causes of ED include:
- Atherosclerosis: A common cause of ED is damage from atherosclerosis, the hardening of arteries that results from high cholesterol. The condition makes arteries stiff and narrow, which can limit blood flow throughout the body––including in the penis. This makes it more difficult to get an erection.
- High blood pressure (hypertension): When blood pumps through vessels too forcefully, it damages the walls of the blood vessel. This causes them to get scarred and narrow, reducing the amount of blood that can flow through them. High blood pressure also leads to heart disease, and together, these two conditions can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
- Diabetes: High levels of sugar in the bloodstream can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves that play an important role in getting an erection.
- Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer is often treated with chemotherapy, prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland), radiation, or cryotherapy––all which contribute to ED.
- Mental health: Depression, anxiety, relationship problems, premature ejaculation, and performance anxiety can all factor into ED.
ACV for penis enlargement
If you’ve heard that putting apple cider vinegar on your penis can make it bigger, it’s what it sounds like: too good to be true. ACV will not make your penis bigger. In fact, the only results you’re likely to see (if any) from putting ACV on your penis are burning and mild irritation.
Since ACV is acidic, putting it directly on your skin or consuming it before watering it down in some way can cause real damage. When ACV is properly diluted, it’s generally safe to consume or use on hair and skin. Still, avoid putting it on your genitals, which are especially sensitive.
How to take ACV
If you decide to try ACV, you can add it to your diet in a few different ways:
- Use it as a condiment by adding it to things like salad dressings
- Dilute one or two tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water
- Eat pickled vegetables made with ACV like onions, beets, or cucumbers
While an occasional sip of apple cider vinegar probably won’t hurt you, avoid drinking straight shots of it on the daily. It can damage the delicate lining of your digestive system, especially when taken consistently.
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Does ACV have side effects?
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can trigger digestive problems like stomach pain or acid reflux (aka heartburn).
Because ACV is highly acidic, it can also erode tooth enamel. To decrease that risk, rinse your mouth with plain water after consuming ACV. Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after taking it so you don’t scrub the acid into your enamel. This is generally a good rule after consuming other acidic drinks like coffee, tea, or soda.
Other treatments for ED
ACV might not be the solution, but there are many treatment options available for ED. Oral prescription medications are very effective. Some popular examples include sildenafil (brand name Viagra; see Important Safety Information), tadalafil (brand name Cialis; see Important Safety Information), and vardenafil (brand names Levitra and Staxyn).
Some people have found natural remedies for ED to be helpful. Research reports supplements like DHEA, ginseng, L-arginine, L-carnitine, and yohimbe (to name a few) may be effective at improving ED symptoms.
Believe it or not, simple lifestyle changes can help with erectile dysfunction. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting quality sleep, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly all make you healthier––and can help contribute to your erectile health.
- Beheshti, Z., Chan, Y. H., Nia, H. S., Hajihosseini, F., Nazari, R., Shaabani, M., et al. (2012). Influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids. Life Science Journal-Acta Zhengzhou University Overseas Edition, 9(4), 2431-2440. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hamid-Sharif-Nia/publication/260311324_Influence_of_apple_cider_vinegar_on_blood_lipids/links/00b7d530bb6f074e4b000000/Influence-of-apple-cider-vinegar-on-blood-lipids.pdf
- Bratu, O., Oprea, I., Marcu, D., Spinu, D., Niculae, A., Geavlete, B., et al. (2017). Erectile dysfunction post-radical prostatectomy – a challenge for both patient and physician. Journal of Medicine and Life, 10(1), 13–18. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5304365/
- Hadi, A., Pourmasoumi, M., Najafgholizadeh, A., Clark, C., & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2021). The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 21(1), 179. doi:10.1186/s12906-021-03351-w. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8243436/
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- Khezri, S. S., Saidpour, A., Hosseinzadeh, N., & Amiri, Z. (2018). Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Functional Foods, 43, 95-102. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2018.02.003. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464618300483
- Koehn, J., Crodel, C., Deutsch, M., Kolominsky-Rabas, P. L., Hösl, K. M., Köhrmann, M., et al. (2015). Erectile dysfunction (ED) after ischemic stroke: association between prevalence and site of lesion. Clinical Autonomic Research, 25(6), 357–365. doi:10.1007/s10286-015-0313-y. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26374302/
- Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., & Kaga, T. (2009). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 73(8), 1837–1843. doi:10.1271/bbb.90231. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19661687/
- Kouidrat, Y., Pizzol, D., Cosco, T., Thompson, T., Carnaghi, M., Bertoldo, A., et al. (2017). High prevalence of erectile dysfunction in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 145 studies. Diabetic Medicine, 34(9), 1185–1192. doi:10.1111/dme.13403. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28722225/
- Liatis, S., Grammatikou, S., Poulia, K. A., Perrea, D., Makrilakis, K., Diakoumopoulou, E., et al. (2010). Vinegar reduces postprandial hyperglycaemia in patients with type II diabetes when added to a high, but not to a low, glycaemic index meal. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(7), 727–732. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.89. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20502468/
- Luu, L. A., Flowers, R. H., Kellams, A. L., Zeichner, S., Preston, D. C., Zlotoff, B. J., & Wisniewski, J. A. (2019). Apple cider vinegar soaks [0.5%] as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity. Pediatric Dermatology, 36(5), 634–639. doi:10.1111/pde.13888. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31328306/
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- Nunes, K. P., Labazi, H., & Webb, R. C. (2012). New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 21(2), 163–170. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004343/
- Rajkumar, R. P., & Kumaran, A. K. (2015). Depression and anxiety in men with sexual dysfunction: a retrospective study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 60, 114–118. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2015.03.001. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25818906/
- Shabataev, V., Saadat, S. H., & Elterman, D. S. (2020). Management of erectile dysfunction and LUTS/incontinence: the two most common, long-term side effects of prostate cancer treatment. The Canadian Journal of Urology, 27(1), 17–24. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32101696/