Versão em Português

Alcohol consumption associated with the use of medication for erectile dysfunction by healthy young men

03 Fevereiro 2023

Studies warn of the harmful effects of recreational use of drugs for erectile dysfunction associated with alcohol consumption.

In recent decades, several drugs have been developed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil, vardenafil and taladafil. Upon sexual stimulation, its action results in greater relaxation of the penile muscles and greater blood accumulation in the corpora cavernosa.

Despite being recommended for individuals with erectile dysfunction (under medical supervision), the recreational use of these drugs has been widespread among young people, to the point of being labeled as “lifestyle drugs” in popular imagination (2). This occurs because a good part of its users does not have erection problems and uses these drugs either for fun, curiosity, insecurity or desire to increase sexual performance (1,2).

In Brazil, a study with young medical students (N=167) pointed to the widespread recreational use of these drugs (4), known to act as phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) enzyme inhibitors; 9% of young people interviewed reported having used such drugs without medical advice. Among these individuals, 46.7% used it more than three times and 71.4% said they had consumed an alcoholic beverage on the same occasion that they used PDE5 inhibitors.

In fact, individuals can often associate alcohol with the use of these drugs, as alcohol increases the feeling of self-confidence and leads to social disinhibition, which would facilitate the search for a partner and its conquest (2). In addition, there is the erroneous belief that alcohol improves sexual performance. In fact, depending on the amount ingested, alcohol tends to decrease libido. After consuming this “mixture”, young people report feeling euphoric, potent and uninhibited, which can lead to a decrease in the perception of risks and difficulty in making decisions, increasing the probability of having unprotected sexual intercourse, and therefore consequently, of contagion by sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

The misuse and unnecessary use of these drugs does not bring benefits to the user; on the contrary, it can promote undesirable adverse effects, such as headache and priapism (involuntary and persistent erection). The prevalence of erectile dysfunction among alcoholics is high, and alcohol can aggravate an existing erectile dysfunction, in addition to bringing several other adverse effects to individuals (5).

It is important to point out that, like alcohol, the use of these drugs has also been linked to greater risky sexual behavior (1,2). Furthermore, the adverse effects of erectile dysfunction drugs in young people have not yet been fully explored. Some studies suggest that, in the long term, they can decrease fertility.

The easy access to these drugs and the lack of knowledge about their harmful effects, associated with the sexual beliefs and expectations of individuals, ends up increasing the dissemination of this kind of use. It is therefore fundamental the spread of information that points out the real effect of this dangerous combination (4). It is also necessary to encourage scientific research on the individual and epidemiological impacts of the topic.

Additional Info

  • Referências:
    1. Atsbeha BW, Kebede BT, Birhanu BS, Yimenu DK, Belay WS, Demeke CA. The weekend drug; recreational use of sildenafil citrate and concomitant factors: a cross-sectional study. Front Med 8, 2021.
    2. Lifestyle medicines | the BMJ. 08, 25, 2022.
    3. Harte CB, Meston CM. Recreational use of erectile dysfunction medications in undergraduate men in the United States: characteristics and associated risk factors. Arch Sex Behav 2010.
    4. Korkes F, Costa-Matos A, Gasperini R, Reginato PV, Perez MDC. Recreational use of PDE5 inhibitors by young healthy men: recognizing this issue among medical students. J Sex Med 5:2414–2418, 2008.
    5. Taymour Mostafa, MD, Moheiddin F. Alghobary, MD. Recreational Use of Oral PDE5 Inhibitors: The Other Side of Midnight. Sexual Medicine Reviews 10(3):392–402, 2022.

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