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Poppers how dangerous?

Aug 3, 2017

How dangerous are poppers in your opinion?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. Poppers have been around a long time and are so common (at least among gay men), that many people assume they are totally benign.

There are a few things to consider when using poppers (alkyl nitrites, sometimes sold as video head cleaner). Does anyone have a video deck any more?). Poppers are vasodilators, meaning they dilate blood vessels giving a "rush" that is pleasurable. This also causes a drop in blood pressure.

There can be risk of interaction if someone who is already on a medication for blood pressure control uses poppers as their blood pressure could fall very low. The same interaction danger exists for erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, which also lower blood pressure.

As for HIV risk, there is no evidence that use of poppers make unprotected anal intercourse (the highest risk) more likely, but use of poppers does more than double the risk of HIV infection for the receptive partner during anal intercourse. This may be due to increased blood flow to rectal tissues, heightening their risk of infection.

Take nothing for granted about any drug and, if you use poppers, be certain you are well-informed.

David



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