Does Porn Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

does-porn-cause-erectile-dysfunction

Sex is arguably the best thing in the world. It is one of those activities we can’t get enough of and can’t live without. In fact, we rank it right up there with food, water and air. Sadly, our partner is not always in the mood or we are not dating anyone right now, so we turn on the web browser and voilà problem solved- or is it?

In recent years erectile dysfunction has been rising as a medical condition in young and older men. Scientists have been working to uncover this medical mystery and the thought of watching excessive pornography has been introduced as a culprit.

With the internet becoming more available with vast amounts of new websites and content, access to porn is much easier than purchasing magazines down the street. New types and genres of porn are now available daily on the internet for free-in both photo and video format.

Clearly, this was not an option twenty years ago.

The real concern lately is why are healthy, younger men suffering from not being able to rise to the occasion of having partnered sex. To further confuse matters, the ability to achieve orgasms through masturbation functions as normal. This has all of us puzzled.

So, why is maintaining an erection for partnered sex difficult?

Some of us know this frustration as erectile dysfunction (also known as ED) or the inability to achieve or maintain an erection stable enough for sex. We often assume it is affiliated with a medical condition or aging, but it does not explain one of the main sex organs in association with sex, the brain.

So, we must investigate….is porn induced erectile dysfunction (ED) fact or myth?

Is porn induced ED really a thing?

The short answer here is the research is still being collected but leaning toward yes. While several clinical studies have been conducted about porn and erectile dysfunction it is important to know pornography sexual difficulties are not currently an official diagnosis. This means porn induced erectile dysfunction is not available as a screening option for healthcare providers.(1) Oh, and yes, this can be a problem.

But just because it is not an official diagnosis does not mean it is not being tested as a possibility. In fact, several studies have uncovered porn induced erectile dysfunction and its effects on the male brain’s interpretation about what sex should look and feel like.

This means troubles like erectile dysfunction could be linked to what is going on in our head more than anything down there.(4, 2)

Not everyone agrees there is a link between erectile dysfunction and porn induced sex. An article published in early 2019 from Medical News Today completely refutes it and any connection between porn induced masturbation and ED. They say the factors leading to erectile dysfunction are only age and medical conditions.

This seems hard to believe though. After all, there are several connections between the mind and sex. Even as simply as being mentally exhausted from a long day at work could influence the body’s readiness and sexual activity.

How does porn and erectile dysfunction affect my body?

Thankfully, scientists have been working toward finding answers to the possible connection between porn and erectile dysfunction.

In 2015, researcher Prause from the Department of Psychology at the University of Los Angeles concluded internet pornography was changing the male mindset in relation to sexual satisfaction. After studying 280 men watching high amounts of pornography, he concluded partnered sex no longer was meeting the participant’s sexual expectations enough to release the amount of dopamine needed to produce and maintain an erection with their partners.(2)

This made us believe high amounts of pornography could be desensitizing partnered sex leading to erectile dysfunction.

It reminded us of a previous discovery from Park’s earlier study. When Park concluded, “The younger the age at which men first began regular use of Internet pornography, and the greater their preference for it over partnered sex, the less enjoyment they report from partnered sex, and the higher their current Internet pornography use.”

This link between the younger male mind and the introduction to porn induced sexual gratification could follow into his older years and affect partnered sex encounters.

But wait, just because a man watches porn does not mean he suffers from erectile dysfunction. Are there small signs in relation to the amount of exposure to pornography which prevent erectile dysfunction and sexual satisfaction?

When we read a report released from the University of Amsterdam, we thought this could be the case. In two experiments participants were exposed to a sexual or neutral film. After the viewing they showed sexual images to both groups. The men who saw the neutral film showed a greater responsiveness to still pictures than the men who just saw the sexual film. While they measured verbal responses from these men they also measured spinal tendinous reflexes.(3)

This could mean erectile dysfunction could be linked to the mental state of habituation in correlation to sex.

Two studies from Dr. Andrzejewski and Dr. Hoffman answered our last question about erectile dysfunction from porn induced sex and how it affects the body.

If porn induced sex and erectile dysfunction can be habituated does this mean, we can also condition our minds and bodies about how we react to sex?

Dr. Andrzejewski’s 2013 study focused on the motivational reward system and the
neurotransmitters connected with porn induced sex. Him and Dr. Hoffman concluded in separate studies that sexual arousal is conditional from both photos and videos.(4, 5)

If this was not enough, another study by Seigfried-Spellar in 2013 further confirmed this idea by stating, “…consumption of pornography may also be associated with conditioning tastes to more extreme stimulation.”

This sealed the deal for us. If our brains can be trained by porn induced sex to make partnered sex less rewarding and even lead to less physical reaction, then porn and erectile dysfunction could very well be correlated.

Can I reverse the effects of porn induced erectile dysfunction?

Can porn cause erectile dysfunction? Quite possibly, but we also have one more detail to explore. If it is true, then what can we do about it? Of course, we need to visit our physician if erectile dysfunction has become a regular occurrence, but it is important to mention the amount of pornography usage be watched. Remember porn-induced sex and erectile dysfunction does not have an official diagnosis yet. So, if you do not mention this to your physician they may not even know to ask about it during the health screening.

If you are not quite ready to visit the physician yet, the great thing is Park’s study does bring hope to the reversal of porn induced erectile dysfunction. His results said, “Sexual dysfunction (ED, difficulty orgasming, low sexual desire) are to the extent they are reversible by quitting Internet pornography, not arising from “performance anxiety” (that is, psychosexual dysfunction, ICD-9 code 302.7)”(1). Of course, this is great news! Physicians recommend behavioral types of treatment much like treatment seen in step programs.

These types of programs can be completed on your own or with help with a trusted behavioral professional or partner.

What is the verdict does porn cause erectile dysfunction?

As of right now, there is no definite way to conclude porn can cause ED. While there is new evidence linking the porn induced ED, we still need to know more about how visual-sexual stimulation affects the mind and body. We can expect there will be more research for the association of pornography influencing the male sex life. Of course, if overcoming this battle consulting with your doctor can be beneficial.

This article was created for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as medical advice or in medical decisions. We recommend reaching out to a physician for decisions in erectile dysfunction cause and treatment.

References:

  1.  Park BY, Wilson G, Berger J, Berger J, Christman M, Reina B, Bishop F, Klam WP, Doan AP. Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Lane SD, ed. Behavioral Sciences. 2016;6(3):17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017.
  2.  Prause N, Pfaus J. Sex Med. 2015 Jun; 3(2):90-8.
  3.  Both S, Spiering M, Everaerd W, Laan E J Sex Res. 2004 Aug; 41(3):242-58.
  4.  Andrzejewski ME, McKee BL, Baldwin AE, Burns L, Hernandez P.Neurosci
    Biobehav Rev. 2013 Nov; 37(9 Pt A):2071-80.
  5. Hoffmann H, Janssen E, Turner SL.Arch Sex Behav. 2004 Feb; 33(1):43-53.
  6. Seigfried-Spellar K.C., Rogers M.K. Does deviant pornography use follow a Guttman-like progression? Comput. Hum. Behav. 2013;29:1997–2003. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.04.018.

Alvaro Ocampo M.D.

Dr. Ocampo is an expert physician specializing in anti-aging, hormone therapy, pathology and environmental medicine. He received his medical degree from Columbia State Medical School in Montreal, Canada. Dr. Ocampo’s comprehensive medical experience includes working as medical officer for the U.S. Public Health Service and C.D.C, National Institute for Occupational Health, medical director for the U.S. Public Health Service, and as a Principal Investigator for American Pharmaceutical Companies.