Recreational use of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors by healthy young men

J Sex Med. 2010 Nov;7(11):3736-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01965.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.


Introduction: In recent years, PDE5 inhibitors (PDE5i) use has become more popular among men without ED to enhance sexual performance. However, reports in the literature are scarce.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the recreational use of PDE5i in healthy young men.

Main outcome measures: We evaluated the recreational use of PDE5i among young and healthy men, their main reasons for use, how they were obtained these drugs, and the combination with alcohol or other drugs.

Methods: Descriptive, transversal study consisting in 400 brief surveys with structured multiple choice and open questions. Nonprobability samples (quota samples) included young men between 18 and 30 years of age in a public area (high schools, universities, and gyms) between August and November 2009. Collecting the questionnaires in a sealed box enforced confidentiality. The survey included demographic and sexual health data and PDE5i use characteristics. For statistical analysis we used Fisher's exact and Mann-Whitney tests.

Results: A total of 321 questionnaires were appropriate for the purposes of evaluation. Mean age and standard deviation were 25.1±3.3 years old. Regarding PDE5i use, 69 men (21.5%) mentioned trying the pill (being sildenafil the most commonly used one) at least one time in their lives and 37 (53.4%) men combined it with alcohol or drugs. Referred sources of acquisition PDE5i were 75.4% (N=52) from a friend, 17.4% (N=15) from a pharmacy/drugstore without a medical prescription, 4.3% (N=3) prescribed by a physician and 2.9% (N=2) through Internet. There were several reasons for taking PDE5i related to sexual confidence, erection quality, and better sexual performance.

Conclusion: According to our results, 21.5% of healthy men between 18 and 30 years old used PDE5i as a recreational drug, mostly associated with alcohol or other drugs without medical control. This could have led to misuse and a public health problem. Further studies are needed to evaluate not only PDE5i recreational use prevalence, but also psychosocial determinants, long term safety, misuse, and abuse related to it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors