Poppers are drugs that are often used during sex, but also sometimes at parties. The effects of poppers last for a few minutes. They provide a horny and relaxed feeling. Under the influence of poppers it is easier to get fucked. But be careful with poppers, because there are also negative effects and risks.

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Poppers and sex
Risks and negative effects
Reducing risks
Are poppers legal?
Are poppers addictive?

Poppers are drugs in liquid form. You do not drink it, but you inhale the damp that comes off it. This gives a short, strong rush that most of the times feels horny and relaxed. It often feels as a rush of blood to the head. It can also give you a headache and/or palpitations. The effect will last only a few minutes. 

The effect of poppers on seks

Some men use poppers during sex because it makes them experience sex more intensely. Poppers are often used during anal sex because it relaxes the blood vessels and the smooth muscles (these are muscles that you cannot actively contract. Smooth muscles slowly contract on their own. Smooth muscles are located in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract, in the wall of arteries, the uterus, bladder, bronchi and pupil.). Because your sphincter also relaxes, it is easier to get fucked or fisted.

Poppers can cause you to lose your erection or soften your erection. When this happens, it is often difficult to get your erection back. Even after the buzz of the poppers has already passed. It may differ per brand of poppers whether this happens or not.

Tip: are you a top who likes to use poppers during sex? Then use your own bottle of poppers, so you know which effect it will have on you. 

What are the risks of poppers?

The chance of permanent damage from occiasional poppers use is very small. With prolonged and intensive use, poppers can be harmful to your health.

Heart complaints because of poppers

You may get headaches or palpitations while using poppers or feel nauseous. These effects will disappear.

If you are on blood thinning medications, or if you are a heart or kidney patient, it is unwise to use poppers. Discuss the risks with your treating specialist if you still want to use poppers. 

In the long term, after frequent and intensive use, the use of poppers can lead to anemia. This is very rare.

Damage to skin and mucous membranes

Poppers are harmful to your skin and mucous membranes. You can get damage under, on or in your nose by using poppers. This causes skin irritation and sometimes even unsightly burns. Those wounds usually heal after about a week.

If you use poppers often, the damage to your nasal mucosa can make you more likely to suffer from your allergies. This will decrease if you give your nasal mucosa time to recover.

Tip: Are you taking a bottle of poppers with you? Then put the bottle in a sealable plastic bag. Poppers are sold sealed. To open the bottle you have to break that seal. Due to gas formation, great pressure can arise in the bottle, which can cause the bottle to pop open. If the liquid gets on your skin, it will cause burns. Rinse immediately with water if this happens.

Eye damage because of poppers

The risk of eye damage is small. But: if you notice that your vision is getting blurred, stop using poppers.

Isopropyl nitrite based poppers have been associated with damage to the back of the eyeball. The pressure that arises behind the eyeball could damage the vision (blurry, seeing spots) and in very exceptional cases even lead to (temporary) blindness. 

Reduce the risks of poppers

Please note the following:

  • You cannot drink the poppers liquid. This is very poisonous!
  • Keep enough distance between the bottle and your nose. The liquid and the gas of poppers can damage your nose.
  • Be careful not to get the liquid on your fingers and transfer it to your penis or anus. The liquid has an irritating effect on your skin and mucous membrane.
  • Your blood pressure drops temporarily when you use poppers. In combination with other drugs, this can cause heart problems. 
  • Combining poppers with erectile dysfunction drugs can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure. This can cause you to become unconscious and "out". It can also cause heart problems or problems with the blood flow to your kidneys. So do not combine erection agents and poppers if you are a heart or kidney patient.
  • Stop using poppers if you develop eye damage.
  • Are you not familiar with a poppers brand? Then take a gentle sniff first to see how it affects you. Some brands have a much stronger effect than others.

Is using poppers a punishable offence?

You are not punishable if you buy or carry poppers with you in the Netherlands. However, the security staff of bars etc. can decide to confiscate your poppers and possibly refuse access, according to their house rules. At some clubs you can just take your poppers inside and at some you can only bring a bottle that is still sealed. A bottle that has already been opened could contain another liquid, such as GHB. Sex clubs or bars sometimes sell poppers themselves.

In most cases, selling poppers is also not prohibited. They have to fall under the Commodities Act. This depends on the ingredients. As a customer you can assume that the poppers you buy fall under the Commodities Act.  Read more. The substance (iso)butyl nitrite has been banned in the European Union since 2007. This substance has now been replaced by other substances with similar effect, usually isopryl nitrite. you can buy poppers at sex shops and sex bars or over the internet. In many countries poppers cannot be sold as a product for human consumption. That's why poppers are often advertised as "room odorizers" or "Leather cleaners". 

Are poppers addictive?

  • Physically, poppers are not addictive: you can quit without any problems.
  • Habituation does occur: the more often you use poppers, the more poppers you will need for the same intoxication. 
  • You can become psychologically dependent on poppers. You may find that sex is less enjoyable if you don't use poppers.

To keep this information up to date, we regularly revise our texts. Last update: November 2020.

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