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Also known as:

  • amyl
  • butyl
  • isobutyl nitrite
  • aromas
  • liquid incense
  • room deodoriser

What are poppers?

Poppers are liquids made from chemicals from the alkyl nitrite family. They’re often wrongly called ‘nitrates’ – which are similar, but different, chemicals.

Due to a change in the law which outlawed isobutyl nitrite in 2007, poppers on sale in the UK are now made with isopropyl nitrite.

When having sex the fumes are breathed in, either through the nose or mouth or from a poppers-soaked cloth.

They should never be swallowed as this can stop the heart and kill.

What’s the attraction?

Seconds after breathing in the fumes, they cause a rush of blood to your head, your heart starts beating faster and your muscles relax (including the sphincter muscle in your arsehole).

For a few minutes you’ll feel excited and light-headed.

They can be used on the dancefloor too, to boost the effects of music and lights.

Sex on poppers

They can make you feel horny, lower your inhibitions and make orgasms feel stronger.

Because they relax the sphincter, poppers can make it easier to be fucked or fisted. They can cause you to lose your hard-on too.

Research shows they might play an important role in HIV being passed on. The reasons could be:

  • There’s a bigger risk of the arse bleeding as they expand blood vessels inside the arse.
  • They could make it easier to have rougher anal sex, with more chance of bleeding.
  • They might make the immune system weaker for a short time, so that people are more open to infection, although there’s no definite scientific evidence poppers have a lasting effect on the immune system.

It’s thought the risk of HIV being passed on is doubled when an HIV negative man uses poppers when being fucked without a condom by a man with HIV.

Last review: 24/08/2018
Next review: 24/08/2021