Why Use Viagra Recreationally

Taking Viagra for fun: is it safe?

Viagra has been FDA-approved since the ‘90s as a prescription treatment for ED. Viagra and other ED medications are safe and effective, but you should talk with a healthcare provider before using them. Whether Viagra is safe for “recreational” use—meaning, if you don’t have ED—is a bit of a complicated question to answer. Keep reading to find out more.

Written by Michael Martin

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Disclaimer

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.

Viagra (generic name sildenafil; see Important Safety Information) is the go-to prescription medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), and with good reason. It works well, and it’s generally safe to use if you don’t have certain underlying health conditions and if you’re not taking certain other medications.

But is Viagra so safe that you can use it if you don’t have ED? You might be tempted to “borrow” a pill from a friend’s prescription just to try it. After all, if it helps men with ED get an erection, doesn’t it stand to reason it may help you get a stronger erection even if you don’t have ED? It’s not that simple. We talked to Seth Cohen, MD, a urologist at NYU Langone, to get his take.

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Is it safe to use recreational Viagra?

“This is a little bit of a loaded question,” says Cohen.

First—and this is very important—you should talk with a healthcare provider before you start taking any medication. And when you talk with them, really talk honestly about your medical history and any other medications or supplements you’re currently taking. That will help your provider determine if Viagra is right (and safe) for you—it’s not safe for everyone.

But when we talk about the recreational use of Viagra, what does that mean?

“If the average guy comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, if I just take a small dose of Viagra, is that going to do anything really negative to me?’ Nine times out of ten, the answer would be no,” says Cohen. “But if someone has a heart defect or he’s on other medications for high blood pressure, that could do some damage.”
Viagra and other ED medications known as PDE5 inhibitors can be unsafe to take with certain medical conditions or medications, and taking it can cause complications (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019).

What if you don’t have medical issues?

Okay, so taking Viagra for fun is a pretty bad idea if you have health issues or are taking other medications, but what if you know for sure you’re healthy and aren’t taking any medications? In general, erectile dysfunction drugs are safe to take if your heart is healthy and you aren’t on any other medications that would interact with them.

Cohen says, “If we’re talking about someone relatively young, with no cardiac risk factors or other serious health conditions, who aren’t on other medications that interact with PDE5 inhibitors, then I would say at a low dose, Viagra is a reasonably innocuous medication that will just improve their erectile function.”

But if you’re interested in the recreational use of Viagra, Cohen says he’d be curious what you mean by “recreational.”

Do you need a prescription for Viagra?

“If your sex life is good, why do you need to take Viagra?” he says. “People who ask for these medications are asking for a reason. Maybe they’re dealing with performance anxiety. When they masturbate, their penis is hard and everything’s easy to achieve and maintain, but when they’re in front of a partner, they prematurely ejaculate or lose their erection too quickly. That is a form of erectile dysfunction. There’s nothing wrong in their penis, but psychologically, there’s an issue.”

In most cases, according to Cohen, “guys who get Viagra from a friend or take it from their parents’ cabinet may call that ‘recreational use,’ but they may actually have erectile problems.” And since erectile dysfunction can be a sign of another health condition, it’s essential to get that checked out by a healthcare provider.

Viagra as a party drug

Another level of recreational use involves taking Viagra along with other drugs for “chemsex,” or chemical sex, which describes using drugs in your sex life. This can be very unsafe, especially since these party drugs can interact with each other and Viagra in a dangerous way.

A good example of this is “poppers.” Commonly used on the club scene, “poppers” are small glass vials filled with a substance called amyl nitrite. When combined with Viagra, these drugs can cause a severe drop in blood pressure that, in the best-case scenario, will cause dizziness and, in the worst-case scenario, will cause death (Le, 2020).

Similar drugs are used by healthcare professionals to treat heart conditions, so if you’re currently receiving treatment with nitrates, or you’ve ever been diagnosed with a heart-related condition in the past, it’s particularly crucial that you check with a healthcare provider before trying erectile dysfunction medications.

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Viagra side effects

Viagra and other ED medications can have side effects including headache, facial flushing, nasal congestion, stomach upset, backache, and, rarely, temporary impaired color vision (men with the eye condition retinitis pigmentosa should check with their healthcare providers before using those prescriptions) (MedlinePlus, 2018).

If you’re interested in trying Viagra, or you suspect you might have ED, it really is a good idea to talk with a healthcare provider. That can be daunting because of the embarrassment factor, but there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Sexual function is just as important an aspect of men’s health as any other. And keep in mind that you’re not alone. Researchers estimate that around 30 million men in the U.S. have experienced erectile dysfunction (Nunes, 2012).

“Treat your body as best you can and take your health as a priority,” says Cohen. “Just like you would seek medical help for anything major, why not go to a professional and have ED treated professionally instead of taking these matters into your own hands?”

Speak to a healthcare provider about your concerns so you can get treatment.

References

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Are erectile dysfunction pills safe for men with heart disease? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/are-erectile-dysfunction-pills-safe-for-men-with-heart-disease
  2. Le, A., Yockey, A., & Palamar, J. J. (2020). Use of “Poppers” among Adults in the United States, 2015-2017. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 52(5), 433–439. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2020.1791373. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32669067/
  3. MedlinePlus. (2018). Sildenafil. NIH: National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on Jan. 17, 2022 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
  4. 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. doi: 10.1097/mnh.0b013e32835021bd. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004343/

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Important Safety Information for Sildenafil (Viagra)

What are the most important things I need to know about VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets and generic VIAGRA®?

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 emergency medical attention.

  • VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA® can cause serious side effects. Serious, but rare, side effects include:
    • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, seek emergency medical attention 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 VIAGRA 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 VIAGRA and contact a doctor right away

    Who should not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA®?

    Do not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® 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 VIAGRA® and REVATIO®, or any of the ingredients in VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® tablets.
    • Are a women or a child

    When should I call my primary provider?

    Call your primary provider right away if you:

    • Have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours
    • Experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
    • Experience a sudden decrease in or loss of hearing
    • Experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex
    • Take too much Viagra or sildenafil citrate

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

    What are the most common side effects of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    The most common side effects are:

    • 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

    What should I tell my Roman-affiliated provider before taking VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    Before you take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® , 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 or intestinal 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.

    VIAGRA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way VIAGRA 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 VIAGRA® 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®)
    • Oral antifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral®) and itraconazole (Sporanox®)
    • Antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin®), telithromycin (Ketek®), or erythromycin
    • Other medicines that treat high blood pressure
    • Other medicines or treatments for ED
    • VIAGRA® 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). VIAGRA® should not be used with REVATIO® or with other PAH treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors (such as Adcirca [tadalafil])

    Withholding or providing inaccurate information about your health and medical history in order to obtain treatment may result in harm, including, in some cases, death.

    What is the FDA-approved use of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

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

    Roman-affiliated doctors may prescribe VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® for the treatment of premature ejaculation (PE), if they believe in their medical judgment that it is an appropriate course of treatment. While this is not an FDA-approved use of the drug, the American Urological Association has included the use of sildenafil citrate in the treatment of PE in its Guideline on the Pharmacologic Management of Premature Ejaculation.

    You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription products to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    Please see the full Prescribing Information for complete safety information.

    Product names referenced herein are trademarks of their respective owners.