The science behind "pilly willy."

Recreational drugs can harm your sexual life.

What’s covered?

The science behind "pilly willy."

Understand how taking drugs can impact your sexual experiences.

Say no to drugs for a better life.

The use of recreational drugs is widespread. The most commonly used recreational drugs belong to these four categories: stimulants, depressants, analgesics, and hallucinogens. How can these drugs influence your sexual experience? Let's understand.

What are some commonly used recreational drugs?

Men often use alcohol, cocaine, MDMA, anabolic steroids, ketamine, poppers, etc. People use them, particularly during romance and sex. But why are these drugs used? These drugs are known to make people happier, in a more touchy-feely mode or make people more outgoing after taking them, so they can be favoured by some, especially before certain events.

But there is a dark side to these drugs. They can take away your ability to have sex (temporarily). What is the science behind it? Let's understand.

What is "pilly willy"?

The term 'pilly willy' is derived from the Latin words, 'Pillius Willius'. It means that you have taken too many ecstatic pills that your penis becomes floppy and can no longer become erect. Ecstatic drugs are drugs that influence your mood the most. Most of the recreational drugs fall in this category.

Another term, "Whiskey dick", is used for an unresponsive and flaccid penis experienced after drinking heavy alcohol. Let's understand how these recreational drugs interact with the erection.

Recreational drugs and erectile function

The topic is not researched properly because of the legal restrictions on the testing of drugs on humans. Such studies are not to be carried out on even volunteers.

However, understanding the erection physiology and some known effects of the drugs can enable us to establish a link.


While alcohol is a common part of everyday culture, specifically in the western world, it may not have have the best effect on your penis function. Mild usage is not problematic; however, using too much (e.g., 8 units or more in a single night) can lower your blood pressure, leading to an ineffective erection.

Excessive drinking can spoil your nights.

Similarly, long-term use of alcohol can also damage the nerves, leading to permanent termination of erection. So, play safely and don't go beyond 2 units of alcohol per day.

Scientific studies are almost unanimous that alcohol disturbs sexual functions. Recent research published in Industrial Psychiatry Journal found that 58.6% of alcohol users in the study group had sexual dysfunction, while the rate was just 18.5% for non-users.


Its use can make you touchy and more desirous of intimacy, however, it can deprive you of the requirement for the next phase, known as the 'viz' phase, or your erection.

How does it work? It activates the sympathetic nervous system. This system prepares you for an emergency by increasing the blood flow towards the limbs and constricting the blood vessels. The blood flow towards the genitals, including the penis, will be reduced leading to a flaccid and irresponsive penis.

Some male users mix MDMA with Viagra or other ED medication for improved erection, but Viagra is not recommended with other drugs. More dangerously, taking MDMA can cause complex sexual behaviour, e.g., the desire to have unprotected sex with multiple partners, exposing you to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Cocaine has been known to uplift your mood, sexual desire, blood pressure and heartbeat. However, it doesn't raise your erectile function and fails you when you have developed the mood. It causes vasoconstriction, i.e., the constriction of the blood vessels, reducing the blood supply to the penis, thus eroding the erection.

Cocaine can 'darken' your nights.

Its use increases the chances of chronic vasoconstriction and permanent erectile dysfunction.

Anabolic steroids

These drugs are used to enhance muscle mass and improve performance. However, some athletes use it illegally to improve performance in sports. It can ruin your sexual performance by causing erectile dysfunction.

How do anabolic steroids work?

The research is limited on how anabolic steroids affect erections. However, chronic use of anabolic steroids results in a condition known as hypogonadism which involves the shrinking of the testes. Consequences of taking anabolic steroids have been known to reduce libido and give poor erections. You might be surprised to know that most of the powerful bodybuilders and wrestlers often have a troubled sex life.

A 2018 research published in the Translational Andrology and Urology has confirmed that its use suppresses sexual functions.


The research is limited, with contradictory results. However, it is not a good bed partner. While some studies have found that it improves sexual performance, others have found that its long-term use negatively impacts male sexual health.


It is a well-known depressant of the nervous system and is used in surgery as an anaesthetic. Whenever it is taken through any route, it can hurt the erection. The mechanism is still not fully understood, but it is suggested that it damages the spongy erectile tissues and reduces NO production.

A 2016 research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that the long-term use of ketamine as a recreational drug is linked to erectile dysfunction in young men.


Poppers are volatile compounds that are inhaled to enhance the sexual experience.

The poppers also reduce blood pressure due to vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels). It is never going to help as the lower blood pressure will result in issues like dizziness, fainting, headache etc. and you will also find difficulty in gaining erections.

A 2018 study published in the BMC Public Health has found that the use of poppers induces risky sexual behaviours.


Drugs are never a good partner in the bed except for some specific drugs used for ED.

An addicted, depressed man.

A good and high-quality erection involves several processes. Recreational drugs are never going to help any of these processes. If you become habitual to these drugs, you can also develop a chronic form of erectile dysfunction.

If you are addicted to drugs, we can help you through it. Click here to consult our health experts, who will guide you to recover from it. Our sexual health consultation tool can also guide you if you can use ED drugs with the recreational drugs or not.

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