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27 October 2018

Can watching too much porn give you erectile dysfunction?

We spoke to two experts about the scary possibility of whether too much porn could wreak havoc on your sex life.

A while back, Buzzfeed News published a story called This Is How Therapists Treat Young Men With Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction. The article shared the stories of two men who claim that their addiction to pornography rendered them unable to achieve an erection.

Read more: 8 ways to protect your erection

These anecdotes were paired with the quotes of the sexologists and therapists who supported their claim by citing porn-inducted erectile dysfunction as the culprit, or “the inability to get or maintain an erection during sexual activity because of a high exposure to pornography”.

Sounds pretty scary, right?

Most men watch porn, so the thought of missing out on a lifetime of potential sex because you watched too many X-rated movies would, understandably, be a pretty terrifying prospect.

Not so clear-cut

But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of the “porn causes erectile dysfunction” claim. In fact, preliminary research presented at the American Urological Association‘s most recent annual meeting presented that very idea – and as it turns out, that wasn’t as clear-cut as some news outlets made it out to be, either.

Read more: How to last longer in bed

We were a bit hesitant to pin the experiences of just two men on the entirety of guys who watch porn, so we talked to two sex researchers with PhDs to get more details on whether your X-rated habit can cause serious problems with your sex life.

The verdict? There’s no scientific evidence that supports the idea of “porn-induced erectile dysfunction”.

“There are three laboratory studies that have shown sex film viewing is unrelated to erectile functioning,” said Dr Nicole Prause, founder of Liberos, a sex research and biotechnology company in Los Angeles.

“No study has ever linked the two. The therapists are literally manufacturing the idea that these are connected in their patients,” she says.

Read more: 15 embarrassing penis questions answered

In fact, the problem may come down to the act of masturbation, rather than watching porn.

“In my clinical experience I do not find porn to be a direct cause of [erectile disorder, premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation]” explains Dr Ian Kerner, a licensed psychotherapist and sexuality counsellor.

Specific type of stimulus

A more likely direct cause might be an idiosyncratic masturbatory style, meaning you masturbate with a type of pressure and friction that is not easy to replicate during sex, so you might have trouble getting hard or reaching orgasm with your partner. “This would be a masturbation issue, not a porn issue, and is somewhat easily resolved,” Dr Kerner says.

So when you watch porn – and consistently reach orgasm through a specific type of masturbation – you might actually get conditioned to a specific type of stimulus, Dr Tobias Kohler recently told Men’s Health. That means when you go to get it on with your partner, you may not be recreating that specific type of stimulus, which can cause issues in bed.

Read more: The truth about your masturbation habit

Granted, porn can give you unrealistic expectations about sex, which in turn leads to anxiety, says Dr Kerner. Echoing Dr Prause, he explains that “anxiety and boredom are the root issues, but porn often gets blamed.”

“I have not seen any good studies to show that porn somehow rewires the male brain to lead to sexual dysfunction,” he emphasises.

More concrete research needed

If you do feel like watching porn is interfering with your ability to perform in bed, and you’re truly bothered by that, check in with your urologist to make sure an underlying medical condition – like diabetes, heart problems or even a specific type of medication – isn’t to blame. Talking to a sex therapist can also help. For some guys, especially those who feel porn interferes with their morals, porn can have negative effects.

Read more: What your penis is telling you

Bottom line: Watching porn affects every guy differently – but more concrete research needs to be done before it can be linked to erectile dysfunction. Until then, take the time to read up on how porn actually affects your sex life.

Additional reporting by Alisa Hrustic.

This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za

Image credit: iStock

 
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