Porn-induced erectile dysfunction

Excessive porn use can cause erectile dysfunction, but it’s reversible

Does porn cause erectile dysfunction?

While for older men erectile dysfunction often is caused by physical health issues, such as high blood pressure and damaged blood vessels, for younger men erectile dysfunction in most cases results from mental issues. Next to performance anxiety, when young are first experiencing sex, another major contributor to mentally-induced erectile dysfunction is excessive porn use. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional porn consumption, but it’s when porn becomes a daily habit, with an hour or longer spent in front of high-speed internet porn, that there’s real risk of finding it ever more difficult to get an erection going.

 

As explained by Gary Wilson’s in-depth work “Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction” and numerous studies over the past decades, frequent use of high-speed porn tube sites overstimulates the brain, making it ever harder to be stimulated and get off. Users tend to escalate their porn watching habits to more and more extreme topics, as it takes ever greater stimuli for the brain to release dopamine and trigger sexual arousal. Excessive porn use can become an addiction just like alcoholism or drug abuse. 

 

Whereas in the past porn use at each time would be limited to a couple of mags or video cassettes, today one can stream countless videos, even simultaneously in multiple windows, and switch to new content in a heartbeat. That’s too much for the brain to handle. It’s particular problematic for young men, who start internet porn as teenagers, sometimes years before they have real sex. When they are finally engaging in sex with real people they find it dull and fail to get an erection.  

 

Several studies in the late 1990s and early 2000s placed the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in men younger than 40 at around 2-5 percent. But by 2011 erectile dysfunction (here defined as soft erections and complete erections failures) had become a problem for 14-28 percent of men aged 18-40 in Europe. A 2014 Canadian study found that 24 percent of 16-21-year olds had erection difficulties. This sharp rise in erectile dysfunction among young men clearly tracks the ascent of high-speed internet porn over the past 20 years.

 

To be clear: the problem is not masturbation. You can regularly masturbate without porn and you won’t see an impact on your sexual appetite or abilities during partnered sex. The dangers only lie in using porn as a masturbation aid.   

 

What is porn-induced erectile dysfunction?

It’s a purely mental condition that results from the constant overstimulation of the brain with porn. Plain old vanilla sex with only one partner becomes so boring for the brain that it’s no longer worth triggering a dopamine release. There’s no sexual arousal and without the latter getting a firm erection is nearly impossible. In extreme cases, as is documented in “Your Brain on Porn”, the sexual appetite of porn users has been altered completely, such as when heterosexual men only get an orgasm when watching gay porn.

 

When first encountering libido and erection problems in real life sex, some men will turn to porn for good and avoid having sex with their partners, which can break relationships. At later stages, men addicted to porn tend to become socially reclusive altogether, taking no interest anymore in women or social interactions in general. This can then lead to depression and other psychological issues. 

 

Is there a cure for porn-induced erectile dysfunction?

Yes, there is and it’s simple and effective: quit porn for a few months. For the vast majority of porn addicted men that’s all it takes for a complete recovery. The internet is full with reports from men who stopped porn and after 3-4 months had fully restored their normal sexual appetite for vanilla sex with real partners. Their overall mood, self-esteem and social life also improved significantly.

 

Go cold turkey on porn. There’s no middle way like limiting porn watching to once or twice a week. It’s much like alcohol, nicotine or most other drugs in this regard. Also try giving masturbation a break for at least three weeks, and when you start masturbating again don’t think of your favorite porn images but rather of real people and real experiences. 

 

If you find it difficult to quit porn, try to find support on in online or real life groups (there’s many of them) of men with similar problems. You can also get help from psychological counseling.

 

If after four months of porn abstinence you still suffer from erectile dysfunction and/or decreased libido, the underlying cause may be different from your past porn use. In particular, if you are 40 years of age or older, the erection difficulties could have physical reasons, such as cardiovascular problems. In this case, seek medical advice from an expert. There are several medications available that can treat erectile dysfunction by increasing the penis’ blood flow. Common options are sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis). Your doctor can tell you more about these drugs, their success rates and side effects. 

  

References

  1. Wilson, Gary. Your Brain on Porn?: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction. Margate, Kent, United Kingdom, Commonwealth Publishing, 2014.
  2. Park, Brian, et al. “Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports.” Behavioral Sciences, vol. 6, no. 3, 5 Aug. 2016, p. 17, https://doi.org/10.3390/bs6030017. Accessed 10 Jan. 2020.
  3. Landripet, Ivan, and Aleksandar Štulhofer. “Is Pornography Use Associated with Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions among Younger Heterosexual Men?” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 12, no. 5, May 2015, pp. 1136–1139, https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12853. Accessed 10 Jan. 2020.
  4. Prins, J, et al. “Prevalence of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review of Population-Based Studies.” International Journal of Impotence Research, vol. 14, no. 6, 2002, pp. 422–32, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12494273. Accessed 10 Jan. 2020.
  5. O’Sullivan, Lucia F, et al. “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Functioning among Sexually Experienced Middle to Late Adolescents.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 11, no. 3, 2014, pp. 630–41, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24418498, https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12419. Accessed 10 Jan. 2020.

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