A guy's looking at pornography on his cell phone.

Published On March 18, 2020

Can watching porn cause erectile dysfunction?

Too much porn can cause ED – Truth or Myth?

Porn and masturbation go together like hand and glove. When a man watches porn, more often than not he is also masturbating. When a man is masturbating, porn serves as visual stimulation, helping him reach an orgasm. 

Masturbation is a natural and common activity that does not have any effect on the quality or duration of erections. Medical studies show that approximately 74 percent of men have said they masturbate. Indeed, masturbation carries health benefits, such as helping release tension, improving sleep and reducing stress. 

Masturbation does not cause ED and there is no scientific evidence that states otherwise. When it comes to pornography consumption, on the other hand, the answer is not that simple, and requires a longer and more detailed explanation. 

Porn and erectile dysfunction

Porn-induced ED is a highly-debated theory for explaining sexual problems.  

Male sexual arousal starts at the brain – for you to get an erection, your brain needs to send the right messages to the rest of your body, without hindrance or disruption. Porn consumption, however, affects the brain in ways that are unprecedented in human history. 

Research indicates that online porn might be creating unrealistic expectations for young, sexually inexperienced men. What’s more, addicts to porn sometimes come to prefer pornography over real-life encounters, making it difficult to perform sexually with another person. Perpetuated over time, this behavior can cause a condition known as psychological erectile dysfunction.  

Not surprisingly, as online porn continues to grow in popularity, a growing trend has emerged of healthy young men who use prescription ED medication such as Bluechew, Viagra or Cialis to treat symptoms that usually affect older men. Most of these men, sometimes without knowing, use these meds to treat psychological ED.

Sexual Anorexia

Though ED mostly affects older men, internet pornography consumption among younger users can cause what some experts refer to as “sexual anorexia.” Basically, a pathological loss of interest in real-life sexual encounters. Porn becomes so good that nothing else, not even real sex, can come close. 

But certain research suggests the contrary. 

A study by Nicole Prause, PHD, and James Pfaus, PHD, published in Sexual Medicine, and the first peer-reviewed study on the topic, found no relationship between the amount of sex films viewed by men and erectile functioning with their partner. One case found stronger sexual arousal in men who reported viewing more sex films at their homes. Only men who were in relationships and described themselves as conservatives had any issues with porn viewing and erectile dysfunction.

Porn’s impact on sexual appetite and behavior

Regardless, some experts believe that watching too much pornography, especially of a deviant and violent nature, can influence a man’s sexual appetite and eventually lead to psychological ED, making it difficult not only to achieve an erection, but also to reach an orgasm with a real-life sexual partner. 

A study conducted in 2016 showed that more young men are seeking help for ED symptoms, suggesting this could be due to the desensitizing effects of the countless hardcore porn videos available on the internet. The article goes on to argue that pornography can decrease a man’s satisfaction with their own body image, triggering performance anxiety during sex.

Adult movies present an altered version of what sex is truly like. In porn, men are always shown fully erect and women appear to be ready for sex all the time. Furthermore, men who watch porn by themselves grow accustomed to being in total control of the sexual experience. The thought of dealing with a real human being, someone with complicated problems, needs and insecurities, can be scary.   

Is porn bad for your health?

This, like many other complex arguments, lacks a clear and concise conclusion. It is difficult to determine whether porn is good or bad for your health. Yes, too much porn can definitely have a negative impact on your health and may even lead to chronic ED. But, if kept under control, porn will not necessarily lead you down the path of erectile dysfunction. 

If you are struggling with ED due to porn consumption, don’t abandon hope. While it may seem challenging, it’s not impossible to overcome. Talk to someone – a doctor, therapist, or even a close friend or family member. Try not watching porn for a week, two weeks, a month. With time, you will begin to see improvement.