Recreational Use of Erectile Dysfunction Medications in Undergraduate Men in the United States: Characteristics and Associated Risk Factors

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by Grant 5 RO1 AT00224-02 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to Cindy Meston. The NCCAM had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in preparation and the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The authors thank Alison Marks for help with online data management and data acquisition.

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Correspondence to Cindy M. Meston.

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Harte, C.B., Meston, C.M. Recreational Use of Erectile Dysfunction Medications in Undergraduate Men in the United States: Characteristics and Associated Risk Factors. Arch Sex Behav 40, 597–606 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-010-9619-y

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Keywords

  • Erectile dysfunction medication
  • Sildenafil
  • Drug abuse
  • Sexual risk
  • Sexual behavior