Is it OK to use erectile dysfunction drugs recreationally?
Answer From Tobias Kohler, 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. 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 a bad reaction or drug interaction. Prescription erectile dysfunction medications might not work or might be dangerous for you if you take nitrate drugs, if you have very low blood pressure (hypotension), or if you have heart disease or heart failure. It's important to talk to a doctor before taking any prescription ED medication. A prescription erectile dysfunction medication could also cause a severe reaction if used with other recreational drugs, such as cocaine.
- Become psychologically dependent on the medication. Some research 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.
- Get duped by a scam. Be wary of online ads or emails in your junk folder promoting treatments for ED. Many of these unproven products either don't work or have unsafe chemicals in them.
Prescription oral erectile dysfunction medications aren't intended for 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.
July 17, 2020
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- Cunningham GR, et al. Treatment of male sexual dysfunction. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed June 17, 2020.
- Erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction. Accessed June 17, 2020.
- Harte CB, et al. Recreational use of erectile dysfunction medications and its adverse effects on erectile function in young healthy men: The mediating role of confidence in erectile ability. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2012; doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02755.x.
- Melnik T. Sexual medicine: The psychological effects of PDE5 inhibitor use. Nature Reviews. Urology. 2012; doi:10.1038/nrurol.2012.149.
- Chan WL, et al. Significant misuse of sildenafil in London nightclubs. Substance Use & Misuse. 2015; doi:10.3109/10826084.2015.1013135.
- Health fraud scams. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/health-fraud-scams. Accessed June 18, 2020.