Does Pornography cause ED?
Does pornography have a negative effect on sexual wellness? In this post we will look at the specific question: does watching pornography cause men to lose their erections? You may find studies that purport to demonstrate that this is in fact true. These studies claim that young men that do not have other medical issues that can lead to problems with erection may develop ED when they look at pornography. The idea is that if men in their 20’s cannot get an erection, something insidious must be going on.
If you look more carefully, there are flaws in this argument. One important factor is that commonly when men watch pornography it is accompanied by masturbation, and talking about use of pornography is basically a conversation about masturbation. A few things happen during masturbation. First, after orgasm and ejaculation most men have a "refractory" period – a period of time in which it is very difficult or impossible to have another erection. So, if someone has recently had many orgasms recently, they may not get an erection when they want it. The refractory period is different in each individual and changes over the lifespan.
We also have to account for the fact that being aroused and having an erection with a partner is different from having an erection alone. The video does not say “don’t do that” and it does not comment on the men’s performance. Typically when a person is alone and masturbating they may be more relaxed and more able to focus on the specific sensations and ideas that give them pleasure. Sometimes sex alone with pornography may be preferred because there is no demand to please another person. Men who are ashamed of their porn usage and whose partner disapproves of this use are more prone to erectile dysfunction -- not because of the porn, but because of the anxiety and shame about uring porn. There is a clear physiological basis for anxiety and shame getting in the way of arousal and erection. The increase in the activation of our bodies' sympathetic nervous system (the "fight or flight" system) shuts down the physical process that allows blood flow to our genitals. Additionally, as soon as the concept of “porn induced ED” is introduced, some men become more anxious about their erections because they don’t want to be accused of using pornography. Anxiety accelerates the problem. Sometimes untangling this knot is complicated.
But lets look at some research: Dr. Nicole Prause and Dr. James Pfaus, neuroscientists working in a wide variety of issues of sexual function across genders, concluded in a 2015 article in the journal Sexual Medicine that men who watch pornography showed that they have better erectile functioning. Another 2015 article by Landripet and Stulhofer with a larger multinational sample found "little evidence of the association between pornography use and male sexual health disturbances.
There is a sexual myth involved here: healthy men can and should have an erection in every sexual situation. This is just not true. Men are human. Their penises are too.
If you are concerned about your erectile function or your relationship either to partners or porn, we can help.