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DR. AYSHA BUTT

MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.

GMC NUMBER: 6164178

All SexHairSkinLifestyle
Sex

Why is taking recreational Viagra harmful?

Viagra’s popular for a reason. It works. If you have erectile dysfunction, chances are it can help.

But what if you don’t have any issues getting erections and you want to take Viagra to be better in bed? And what if you don’t want to talk to a doctor, and you buy it without a prescription? Is there any harm? Can you take Viagra just for fun?

Well if you do, you’ll be putting yourself at risk. Here’s why.

What is Viagra and what is it for?

Viagra is the brand name of a drug called sildenafil. It’s a prescription medication that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED); when a man can’t get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

It’s taken as a pill which is swallowed, and it works by improving the flow of blood to the penis, helping it get and stay hard. Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) are alternative medications that work in a similar way. They’re proven treatments for ED, but sometimes they’re taken by men with no history of erection problems, often recreationally.

What does taking Viagra recreationally mean?

A recreational drug is a legal or illegal drug that’s taken without any medical guidance. Viagra, and its alternatives, are prescription medications, which mean they should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor or other medical professional who can legally write prescriptions, in the way directed by them.

When Viagra, or other similar ED medication, is bought without a prescription, it becomes a recreational drug.

Why do people take Viagra recreationally?

There are a lot of exaggerated claims and myths around Viagra. Some men who don’t have ED, say that it improves their sexual prowess, that it makes their erections harder, bigger, longer lasting, and that it helps them to get hard again faster after orgasm.

You’ve probably heard about the friend of a friend who went for hours after taking Viagra, or about the guy who could go again and again all night long. The drug is also taken recreationally, by both men and women, in the belief that it’s an aphrodisiac; something that turns you on and boosts your sex drive.

Some men take Viagra to counter the effects of other drugs. Alcohol, and illegal drugs like ecstasy/MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine, can cause temporary ED. Some legal drugs, like antidepressants can also cause ED, or reduce desire for sex. Often Viagra is taken recreationally alongside these other drugs in a bid to help out.

And some guys take Viagra for peace of mind. Maybe they’re with a new partner and they’re nervous, and they want to make sure they’ll be able to perform on cue.

But is any of this true?

The truth about Viagra

The truth about Viagra is that it’s an effective treatment for ED, and a few other specific medical conditions like pulmonary arterial hypertension. It won’t turn you into a sexual god. If you don’t have ED, it won’t make your erections bigger or firmer, and it won’t make your penis bigger.

There is some evidence that it can help with premature ejaculation, and that it can help you get harder again faster after coming, but this effect wasn’t found in a later study, so the claims that Viagra can boost sexual prowess are probably more urban legend than reality.

Viagra, and other similar ED drugs, can make your erections last a long time, but that’s a rare side effect of Viagra, and despite what you might think, it’s not a good one. It’s called priapism. It can last for many hours, is usually painful, and it can cause lasting damage to your penis that can actually result in ED.

Viagra isn’t an aphrodisiac either. It doesn’t increase your sex drive. The desire has to be there already, Viagra just helps turn that desire into an erection for men who have ED.

There is evidence that Viagra can help with ED caused by other drugs, like antidepressants. But drugs can interact with each other when taken together, so they should be done so under the guidance of a medical professional. Obviously, we don’t endorse taking illegal drugs, but if you do intend to, and you plan to take Viagra with them, talk to our doctors first. What you say to them is confidential, you won’t get in trouble, and they can give you the benefit of their wisdom.

And if it’s peace of mind you want, then Viagra can help, but it should be your last resort. If you’re worried about sex, then you should speak to your doctor. There’s a recognised psychological condition called performance anxiety, and your doctor can advise you on who you can speak to about it. Viagra can help manage the erectile dysfunction symptoms that come with performance anxiety, but it should only to be tried after other options have been exhausted.

The dangers of taking Viagra recreationally

Viagra, and its alternatives, are established treatments for ED, but like all medications, they have side effects. The most common side effects of Viagra and other ED drugs are relatively mild and short lasting, like headaches, feeling sick, or dizziness. But there can be more dangerous side effects.

We’ve already mentioned priapism, and they can also cause heart problems, seizures, and strokes. These side effects are rare, but they’re a risk. These medications can also interact with other drugs you might be taking, making severe side effects more likely.

When you talk to a healthcare professional about trying an ED treatment like Viagra, you get the benefit of their years of training and experience. They can assess your situation, your health, what other medication you’re taking, and they can decide whether the treatment is right for you, as well as recommend the correct dosage and advise you on how to take it properly.

When you take Viagra recreationally, you do it without that guidance, and you put yourself at risk.

The takeaway

Viagra, and alternatives like Cialis and Levitra, are proven treatments for erectile dysfunction. However, they’re medications that can have side effects and there’s a risk to taking them, particularly without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Many of the reasons people take Viagra recreationally aren’t even real. Don’t put yourself at risk over a myth. If you’re thinking about taking Viagra, talk to us first.