Is Too Much Pornography Causing Erectile Dysfunction?

sarah-nurseWhile it seems like it would have the opposite effect, there is increasing evidence that watching too much pornography is causing problems with men’s normal sexual performance. Men can easily become fascinated with pornography, it’s now easily available to everyone that has an Internet connection, and there seems to be a link between watching a great deal of pornography and erectile dysfunction.

Since the prevalence of access to an unlimited supply of porn of all kinds is a fairly recent phenomenon, scientific inquiry into the possibility of it causing men to suffer from erectile dysfunction has been limited. One recent survey of men that viewed what was termed an excessive amount of porn from the age of 14, and continued with daily consumption of sexual images into their mid-20s, reported that they had become desensitized after a while to even the most lurid forms of pornography, and even violent images that involved sex. This desensitivity appears to carry over into men’s real lives, lowering their libido and making it difficult for them to achieve an erection when engaging in real life sex.

This phenomenon is becoming more visible as more and more very young men are seeking out the help of drugs like sildenafil, the chemical name for both brand name and generic Viagra. Doctors that prescribe sildenafil will often closely question their patients about their overall health and state of mind in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions that erectile dysfunction can be a marker for. As the availability of copious amounts of porn on the Internet has become common knowledge, doctors are including questions about porn use to their patients in order to know if it’s having a deleterious effect on their sexual performance.

Because most doctors treat men that suffer from erectile dysfunction later in life, they have very little experience in counseling the very young patients they see who report that they’re unable to achieve or maintain an erection during normal lovemaking and suspect it’s because of watching too much pornography.

Doctors aren’t sure exactly what the trigger for this problem might be, but anxiety over body image and the unrealistic portrayal of the sexual abilities of people depicted in pornography might be causing young men to feel too embarrassed to participate in normal sexual intercourse with a real partner because they fear, rightly so, that they could never perform at the level of men in even the most mundane kinds of porn. Conversely, young men who have grown accustomed to much more extreme and even violent depictions of sex in order to become aroused know that such behavior would never be tolerated by their sexual partners in real life, and so can’t become aroused while thinking about normal sex.

Doctors and therapists compare the unreasonable expectations that develop by watching continually more explicit and kinky porn to the effect of alcohol abuse, where the abuser has to take more and more in order to achieve the same effect. Doctors often prescribe sildenafil along with counseling patients to work out the psychological implications of watching pornography and tapering off their viewing while becoming more in tune with the needs of their real-life sexual partners, so that they can overcome their need for constant stimulation.