Recreational use of erectile dysfunction medications in undergraduate men in the United States: characteristics and associated risk factors

Arch Sex Behav. 2011 Jun;40(3):597-606. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9619-y. Epub 2010 Apr 1.


Mounting evidence indicates that erectile dysfunction medications (EDMs) have become increasingly used as a sexual enhancement aid among men without a medical indication. Recreational EDM use has been associated with increased sexual risk behaviors, an increased risk for STIs, including incident HIV infection, and high rates of concomitant illicit drug use. The aim of the present study was to investigate the characteristics and associated risk factors for recreational EDM use among young, healthy, undergraduate men. A cross-sectional sample of 1,944 men were recruited from 497 undergraduate institutions within the Unites States between January 2006 and May 2007. The survey assessed patterns of EDM use, as well as demographic, substance use, and sexual behavior characteristics. Four percent of participants had recreationally used an EDM at some point in their lives, with 1.4% reporting current use. The majority of recreational EDM users reported mixing EDMs with illicit drugs and particularly during risky sexual behaviors. Recreational EDM use was independently associated with increased age, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation, drug abuse, lifetime number of sex partners, and lifetime number of "one-night stands." Recreational EDM users also reported a 2.5-fold rate of erectile difficulties compared to nonusers. Overall, recreational use of EDMs was associated with sexual risk behaviors and substance abuse; however, a relatively small proportion of undergraduates reported using EDMs. Results also suggest that a sizable portion of recreational EDM users are heterosexual men, and that use does not solely occur within the environments of venues that cater to men having sex with men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carbolines*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles*
  • Male
  • Piperazines*
  • Purines
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Students
  • Sulfones*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tadalafil
  • Triazines
  • Vardenafil Dihydrochloride


  • Carbolines
  • Imidazoles
  • Piperazines
  • Purines
  • Sulfones
  • Triazines
  • Vardenafil Dihydrochloride
  • Tadalafil
  • Sildenafil Citrate