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Recreational Viagra and ED Drug Use: Is It Dangerous?

Recreational Viagra and ED Drug Use: Is It Dangerous?

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If you struggle with erectile dysfunction, ed medications like Viagra (sildenafil) might be something of a miracle for you. As is true for any prescription drug, however, ED medications come with risks for interactions and side effects. They are not something you want to use irresponsibly.

You might consider this a matter of common sense, but research suggests that there is a measurable number of users who take ED drugs recreationally. Some men take them to impress a new partner with their sexual prowess while others do it to enhance their own experience.

Regardless the reasoning, recreational use of erectile dysfunction drugs can be dangerous, so think twice before you do it! Keep reading to learn more about this topic.

How Do Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Work?

To understand why someone might use ED drugs recreationally, you need to have a basic understanding of how these drugs work.

Though there are both psychological and physiological factors that come into play, erectile dysfunction is largely a vascular issue. Erectile dysfunction is defined by the Mayo Clinic as the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. The underlying cause may vary from one case to another, but the primary problem is a lack of blood flowing to the penis – you cannot achieve or maintain an erection unless the penis fills properly with blood.

Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and Cialis (tadalafil) are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors which increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide works alongside other substances to relax and dilate the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely into the penis.

According to the manufacturer, Viagra typically begins working within 30 to 60 minutes, though you can take it up to 4 hours before anticipated sexual activity. Factors such as age, diet, alcohol use, dosage, and concurrent medications can impact how long the effects of the drug will last.

Why Use ED Drugs Without a Prescription?

Sildenafil, more commonly known by the brand name Viagra, was approved by the FDA for treatment of erectile dysfunction in 1998. Since then, more than 35 million men around the world have used it to improve the strength or duration of their erections.

Within 6 months of its release, more than 5 million prescriptions were written for Viagra. Between 1998 and 2002, use of Viagra rose among men aged 18 to 45 by more than 300%. During that same time period, Viagra use more than doubled in men aged 45 to 55. Today, more than 1.7 million prescriptions are written each year. With nearly two million new prescriptions being written each year, Viagra use continues to skyrocket.

But what about the men who don’t have a prescription for Viagra or another ED medication?

Research suggests that as much as 10% to 20% of erectile dysfunction drug use is recreational. Furthermore, as many as 50% of those men who use ED drugs recreationally combine it with alcohol and illegal drugs.

There are several reasons why men take ED medications recreationally. For some men, it’s a matter of boosting their sexual performance to impress a new partner or it may simply be a matter of improving their own experience.

Though a majority of men who take Viagra recreationally do so to improve their sexual performance, there is a subset of men who use it to boost their athletic performance. Referred to as “Vitamin V” by some athletes, taking Viagra with anabolic steroids prior to a workout helps to dilate the blood vessels, speeding the delivery of those steroids to the major muscle groups.

Steroid use comes with some pretty serious risks including reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy, male-pattern baldness, and breast development – it can also lead to infertility. For some athletes, Viagra is a necessity to restore sexual function that has been destroyed by years of steroid abuse.

The trouble with recreational use of erectile dysfunction drugs is that the reality often doesn’t align with the expectation. Men who take ED drugs recreationally believe that it will give them better, longer lasting erections or that it might reduce their “refractory period” - the time it takes to achieve another erection following orgasm.

The reality is, however, that taking Viagra without a medical need can actually inhibit sexual performance and reduce overall satisfaction. It may also lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviors.

What Are the Risks for Recreational Use of ED Drugs?

Men who take Viagra and other ED drugs recreationally assume that it will improve their sexual performance when, in reality, it may have the opposite effect. According to the results of a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, recreational users of ED medications reported lower erectile confidence and lower overall satisfaction compared to non-users. In fact, the more frequently these test subjects used ED drugs, the lower their erectile confidence became which, in turn, reduced normal erectile function.  

Not only can recreational use of ED drugs impact your sexual performance, but it may lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviors.

A review published in the American Journal of Medicine analyzed 14 recent studies of Viagra use among gay men. According to the review, more than 10% of men who have sex with men use Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and those men are 2 to 6 times more likely to have unprotected anal sex with a male partner whose HIV status is unknown. These statistics highlight a correlation between Viagra use in gay men and an increased risk for STDs and HIV.

In general, men who take ED drugs like Viagra recreationally are likely to fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Men who have multiple sexual partners
  • Men who use illegal drugs
  • Men who frequently have one-night stands
  • Men who have unprotected sex
  • Men who have sex with other men

Many of the men who use ED drugs like Viagra recreationally purchase them online or from offshore pharmacies. Not only are these drugs not approved by the FDA, but they are illegal and are more likely to be counterfeit versions of the drug. This only adds to the risks associated with recreational use of Viagra and other ED drugs.

Erectile dysfunction drugs have been prescribed to more than 35 million men over the years, often with positive results. The most important thing you need to remember, however, is that these drugs are only safe when taken as directed by a doctor.

Taking ED drugs recreationally could destroy what’s left of your erectile function and might even make you dependent on the drugs themselves. Overall, the risk doesn't seem worth the reward.

This article was reviewed by Ho Anh, MD.

Important Safety Information

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) if you:

  • take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
  • are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in Sildenafil and REVATIO, or any of the ingredients in Sildenafil

    Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or
nausea during sex, seek immediate medical help

    Sildenafil can cause serious side effects. Rarely reported side effects include:

  • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away.
If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis
  • sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called
non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking Sildenafil and call your healthcare provider right away if you
have any sudden vision loss
  • sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have
these symptoms, stop taking Sildenafil and contact a doctor right away

    Before you take Sildenafil, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack,
irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
  • have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
  • have pulmonary hypertension
  • have had a stroke
  • have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that
is not controlled
  • have a deformed penis shape
  • have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
  • have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell
anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
  • have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families)
eye disease
  • have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem
called NAION
  • have bleeding problems
  • have or have had stomach ulcers
  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis have any other medical conditions

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins,
and herbal supplements.

    Sildenafil may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way Sildenafil works, causing side effects.
Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

  • medicines called nitrates
  • medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociguat)
  • medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin (terazosin
HCl), Flomax (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura (doxazosin
mesylate), Minipress (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral (alfuzosin HCl),
 Jalyn (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo (silodosin).
Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate
problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use
of Sildenafil with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
  • medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan), saquinavir (Fortovase or Invirase), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz)
  • some types of oral antifungal medicines, such as
 ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • some types of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin),
telithromycin (Ketek), or erythromycin
  • other medicines that treat high blood pressure
  • other medicines or treatments for ED
  • Sildenafil contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found
in another drug called REVATIO. REVATIO is used to treat a
rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
 Sildenafil should not be used with REVATIO or with other PAH
treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors
(such as Adcirca tadalafil)

    Sildenafil does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

    The most common side effects of Sildenafil: headache; flushing; upset stomach; abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision
(such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision; stuffy or runny nose; back pain; muscle pain; nausea; dizziness; rash.

    H2 INDICATION

    Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Sildenafil is not for women or children.