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The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about the use of poppers during sex, advising that they can have “serious adverse health effects.”
Also known as nitrite and nitrates, poppers are an inhalant that can “make you feel horny, lower your inhibitions and make orgasms feel stronger,” per Trade Sexual Health. “Because they relax the sphincter…[they] can make it easier to be fucked or fisted.”
However, while poppers are something of a fixture at gay bars, sex parties, and in porn — with brands including Jungle Juice, RUSH, and Extreme Formula — the FDA is warning users about the potential dangers.
“The FDA advises consumers not to purchase or use nitrite ‘poppers’ because these products can result in serious adverse health effects, including death, when ingested or inhaled,” the federal agency said in a release last month.
“‘Poppers,’ which are sold online or at adult novelty stores, may be marketed as nail polish removers but are being ingested or inhaled for recreational use or to enhance sexual experiences,” the FDA continued.
“These products contain nitrites, which are chemical substances that should not be ingested or inhaled unless specified/prescribed by a healthcare provider.”
The FDA said it has observed “an increase in reports of deaths and hospitalizations with issues such as severe headaches, dizziness, increase in body temperature, difficulty breathing, extreme drops in blood pressure, blood oxygen issues (methemoglobinemia) and brain death after ingestion or inhalation of nitrite ‘poppers.'”
The agency said that it will continue to track the usage of poppers and any “adverse events,” and will “take appropriate actions to protect the public health.”
The FDA recommends avoiding them entirely both for recreational use and during sex.
However, for those determined to keep using poppers, the agency suggests reading up on the potentially harmful side effects, discarding any unused product, and contacting healthcare providers immediately if you experience any illness after using poppers.
The British government briefly considered a ban on poppers in 2016, before reversing course and abandoning the plan.
Gay lawmaker Crispin Blunt, a member of the ruling Conservative Party which was considering the ban, outed himself in parliament as a user of poppers, calling the attempt to ban them “foolish.”
“[I] would be directly affected by this legislation,” Blunt said at the time. “And I was astonished to find that it’s proposed they be banned and, frankly, so were very many gay men.”
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