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It used to be that only men with erectile dysfunction would use erectile dysfunction drugs—any of the PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. But that hasn’t been the case in recent years.
An increasing number of men in their 20s and 30s, not diagnosed with ED, are using these drugs for, as one guy described it, “supercharged” sexual experiences, with stronger erections, longer endurance, and less downtime in between orgasms.
Christian, 27, who uses Viagra for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, says he doesn’t have a hard time becoming aroused, but the drug “took my erection on a scale of 1-10 up to 11, and it was one of the most intense orgasms I ever had.“
How are they getting these drugs? Some are buying them from illegal dealers or online. Some are lying to their doctors about erectile problems to get a prescription.
“It’s easy to get a ‘script these days from doctors, and it’s easy to find them on the Internet,” admits Matt, 30.
Nick Hawk, 34, a celebrity male escort and star of the Showtime reality series Gigolos, sees a lot of men using ED drugs at bars and nightclubs.
“Viagra is the new party drug,” he says. “It’s part of the scene now. When people go out now their party checklist goes like this: Alcohol? Check! Condoms? Check! Viagra? Check. Guys ask other guys for a Viagra more than a condom now.”
Though all the men we spoke with had tales of never-ending erections and “rock star” sexual performance, they also shared stories of the other, scary physical effects.
“My heart was racing like a time bomb and I thought it was early onset ofheart attack city,” says Matt.
“The veins were bulging out like my penis was going to explode,” says Joel, 36. “It did take away some performance anxiety I had, but it gave me a new anxiety over whether I was going to have a heart-attack or something.”
Others report headaches (immediate and/or prolonged), flushing, nasal congestion, and on rare occasions—with Viagra, in particular—it can cause a change in vision that makes you see a blue haze.
“With Viagra, all the blood rushes to your face first and you get all red and patchy,” says Zane, 32. “It’s not a good look and it doesn’t feel great. I also had a bad headache and felt very overheated. It wasn’t worth it.”
Headaches and Smurf-like vision are the least of the concerns here. If a man doesn’t get regular check-ups, he might not know if he has heart, blood pressure, liver, or kidney issues, which are the risk factors for these meds.
“(ED drugs) can drop your blood pressure so low that you can pass out,” says Dr. Brian Steixner, MD, the director of the Institute for Men’s Health at Jersey Urology Group. “Or if you’re older or on nitrates, you can have a stroke.”
Nitrates dilate the blood vessels for men with heart issues, but so does Viagra. “If you are taking two medicines that both cause your blood vessel to dilate, you can have a heart attack,” says Steixner.
Dr. Jesse Mills, MD, an urologist at UCLA, doesn’t recommend taking any drugs for erectile dysfunction without first getting a full cardiovascular risk profile and a hormonal panel. “Vitals are important to take before using these drugs, especially knowing a man’s blood pressure prior to starting,” he says. “And I check in with my patients every six months to monitor their health while using this drug.”
If that’s not enough to make you think twice, consider this: If you take ED drugs when you don’t need then, you can develop a tolerance.
And what happens when the body builds up a tolerance to any drug? It can potentially stop working for you.
“This could lead to real erectile dysfunction in young men,” says Dr. Steixner. “And the risk of not being able to have sex or a natural erection ever again is real.”
While ED drugs may not be physically addictive, Dr. Mills warns that men “can certainly become psychologically dependent on them, where they fear lack of performance without the drug.” Which is ironic, because performance anxiety is one of the reasons that many young and healthy men have been turning to ED drugs in the first place.
It’s hard to imagine that men in their 20s are feeling insecure about their libidos, or pining for a past when their erections were somehow more mythical and epic. But many of the men we interviewed for this story seemed to feel that way.
“Viagra gave me erections like when I was 13-years-old,” says Richie, 34. “I could go again in minutes.” Eighteen of the 20 women in relationships we polled said they don’t want the boners of 13-year-olds. That’s kind of gross. They’d rather be having sex with men whose boners are appropriate to their age group.
Also, they don’t want or need their partners to be rock hard for 4 to 6 hours. Last and perhaps most importantly, you should never, ever, ever put your health in jeopardy for an erection.
Think of the 50 or 60-year-old you in the future, who just might legitimately need ED drugs someday. Do you really want to deny him any erections just because you wanted to be a human battering ram?
Of course, if you end up having a heart attack or stroke because you’ve been popping Viagra like breath mints, your future self won’t have to worry about his sex life at all. Because he’ll never exist.
Is a “supercharged” boner worth that?