Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Erectile Dysfunction Health Center

Font Size

Can Recreational ED Drug Use Lead to ED?

Recreational Erectile Dysfunction Drug Use in Young Men May Lead to ED, Study Says
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 20, 2012 -- Men who use erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs recreationally may be more likely to develop psychogenic ED, the type that originates in the mind, according to new research.

"Recreational use of ED medications increased the chance of psychological dependence on ED medicines,'' says researcher Christopher Harte, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

"Among young, healthy men who used ED medicines recreationally, the more frequent ED medicine use was associated with lower confidence in achieving and maintaining erections, which in turn was associated with lower erectile function," Harte says.

The study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The researchers found a link but not cause and effect, Harte tells WebMD.

However, another expert wonders if some of the men who reported ''recreational'' use actually had ED.

ED Drugs and ED: Study Details

ED affects about 34 million men in the U.S., according to Harte.

The condition is more common with age. About 9% of men 18 to 39 are affected. Up to 70% of men 60 and older are.

However, men aged 18 to 45 are responsible for the largest increase in the use of Viagra among U.S. adults, Harte reports. From 1998 to 2002, the use by this age category grew 312%, he says.

For his study, Harte evaluated 1,207 men. Their average age was about 22.

  • 72 were recreational users, reporting no diagnosis of ED from a doctor
  • 1,111 were non-users of ED drugs
  • 24 were prescribed the drugs and used them

The men completed an online survey. It asked about their sexual functioning in the past four weeks. They told whether they used ED drugs and how often.

They answered questions about their erectile function, orgasm, sexual desire, and their satisfaction with intercourse and overall sex.

They reported their levels of confidence in their ability to get and maintain an erection.

ED Drugs and ED: Study Results

Compared to non-users, recreational users reported lower erectile confidence and overall satisfaction.

The decreased confidence, in turn, was linked negatively with erectile functioning, he says.

Harte can't explain the link for sure. "It very well could be that recreational ED medication users may start having unreasonable standards or expectations about their erectile performance," he says.

That, in turn, could lead to men becoming overly sensitive about their performance and more dissatisfied, he says.

Today on WebMD

handsome midadult man
11 tips to protect your erection.
man and woman on beach
How much do you know about ED?
stress in bed
Things that can deflate erections.
senior couple hugging
How medications work.
concerned man
stress in bed
Life Cycle of a Penis
Mens Body Problem
bored man
Lamm Erections Over Life
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
senior couple hugging

WebMD Special Sections