Is it OK to use erectile dysfunction drugs recreationally?

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

Taking prescription oral erectile dysfunction (ED) medications recreationally — without a medical need — carries possible health risks. For example, you could:

  • Get counterfeit drugs. Currently, oral ED medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), require a prescription. Obtaining these medications without a prescription, such as from an unlicensed online pharmacy, puts you at risk of taking a medication that might contain no active ingredient or the wrong medicine.
  • Have an adverse effect or drug interaction. Prescription erectile dysfunction medications might not work or might be dangerous for you if you take nitrate drugs, alpha blockers for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or high blood pressure medications, or if you have heart disease or heart failure. Rarely, side effects can be serious. It's important to talk to a doctor before taking any prescription ED medication.
  • Become psychologically dependent on the medication. A 2012 study suggests that men who use ED medications recreationally might begin to lose confidence in their ability to achieve and maintain an erection without them. Recreational use of ED medications could also cause men to develop unreasonable expectations for their erectile performance.

Prescription oral erectile dysfunction medications aren't intended for recreational use by men who don't have ED. If you're concerned about your ability to achieve or maintain an erection, talk to your doctor. He or she can help determine if you have an underlying condition that needs treatment or if you might benefit from medication or other treatments.

Jun. 27, 2014