Dr. Dick on Poppers: Are they harmful? - Dr. Dick

Dr. Dick on Poppers: Are they harmful?

Dear Devoted Readers,
Many gay and bisexual men continue to ask me if using poppers is harmful. My answer is yes. Inhaling poppers can damage your health. And, recent studies show that guys who use poppers are more likely to take sexual risks, especially anal sex without condoms. Studies also show popper users are more likely to get an STD.

So, if you are going to use poppers, use them in small quantities. Here are some harm-reduction tips from San Francisco. Kudos to DanceSafe, Electric Dreams, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for putting these together.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Dick

P.S. For more great info on poppers get your hands on NEON's Hot Health Tip Poppers, Viagra™, & Crystal.

Poppers is the popular name for various alkyl nitrites, including isobutyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and amyl nitrite. Doctors used to prescribe amyl nitrite for heart patients. The drug was packaged in capsules that were broken or "popped" to release vapors. Today, amyl nitrite is made and sold illegally. Most poppers are now isobutyl nitrite or butyl nitrite. They are sold in small brown bottles as video head cleaner, room deodorizer, or leather cleaner. Exact contents of these products are not known and they are not tested for safety.

Poppers are used by sniffing the vapors from an open bottle. The effects are felt within a few seconds and last for 1-2 minutes. Poppers cause muscles around blood vessels to relax, making your heart speed up to pump more blood. Because poppers cause muscles in the anus and vagina to relax, they are often used during sex.


  • If swallowed, call 911 or Poison Control.
  • Contact with the skin causes irritation and rashes.
  • Extensive use can damage the nose and lungs.
  • Some people experience headaches, sensations of spinning or falling, and loss of erection.
  • Poppers are highly flammable. Keep away from cigarettes, candles, and lighters.
  • Avoid forcing air into your nose if it is stuffed. This can cause ear and sinus infections.
  • Studies show that poppers reduce the functioning of the immune system for several days after use.
  • Studies show that guys who use poppers are more likely to get infected with HIV and other STDs.
  • Poppers pose extra risks for people who have suppressed immune systems, heart problems, low or high blood pressure, a history of cerebral hemorrhaging, or anemia. They also pose higher risks for women who are pregnant.
  • Avoid using poppers with other drugs, especially stimulants like speed and cocaine. Combining poppers and Viagra is dangerous and can be lethal, because both cause blood pressure to drop.
  • Poppers can affect your judgment when you are having sex. Put on a condom before you use them.
  • Poppers will burn skin. To prevent spilling, pour a small amount in a separate bottle filled with cotton.

For more info on poppers and drug-related health risks, check out these web sites:
DanceSafe www.dancesafe.org
Electric Dreams www.partysafe.org

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