Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is a complex condition where a man is unable to sustain or maintain an erection after experiencing sexual arousal. This common condition can be caused by psychological as well as physiological factors. Stress and sometimes depression are the most cited causes of 'psychological ED'. Additional psychological causes of ED can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Exhaustion
  • Sexual boredom
  • Conflict with a partner
  • Unresolved sexual orientation

For a number of decades, academics have studied the psychological impact of pornography, but in recent years, studies have delved further into the effect of porn on sexual performance (i.e. porn induced ED). This has divided opinion in the clinical world.

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Symptoms of porn induced ED

If you are currently dealing with porn induced ED you should look out for the following symptoms:

Porn Induced ED Symptoms
Can't maintain an erection in real-life sexual situations Delays with ejaculation
More graphic porn is required for arousal Maintaining erections becomes more difficult
Ordinary sex isn't as fulfilling ED medication is required to perform sex
Feelings of frustration, embarrassment or anxiety Unable to achieve an erection when watching porn (long-term)

Can porn cause erectile dysfunction

Italian Society of Andrology And Sexual Medicine study

One study that delved into the effects of porn on sexual performance was conducted by the Italian Society of Andrology And Sexual Medicine using a survey of 28,000 Italian men in 2011. The Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine found that many of the men were hooked on porn at an early age. This led to so-called "sexual anorexia", i.e. a lack of interest in genuine sexual relations by the time the men had reached their mid-twenties. Too much porn caused a gradual loss of libido, and the notion that sex is totally divorced from real life relations, the experts said.

Carlo Foresta, head of the Society, stated that "It starts with lower reactions to porn sites, then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection." He followed this up by saying. "With proper assistance recovery is possible within a few months".

This theory suggests that porn can lead to unrealistic expectations that may increase a person's tolerance to sex in reality. It should be considered that the porn currently available online is markedly different to the soft-core Playboy magazines that were popular a decade or so ago. Today's pornography is much more graphic and more deviant material is readily available to view online. Therefore, this type of porn can potentially desensitise a man to sex and gradually he will become less and less excited by ordinary sexual encounters.

Whilst this is an understandable theory, some medical professionals believe that it subverts the whole intention of porn. Dr Ursula Ofman, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist at NYU Langone Medical School, has said that, "Pornography is inspiring and sexually motivating". This statement would contradict the results of the study carried out by the Italian Society of Andrology And Sexual Medicine. This contradiction has been further explored in a recent study, as mentioned below.

The Journal Of Sexual Medicine study

According to a recent research study, which was published in The Journal Of Sexual Medicine in 2015, it was found that more hours spent viewing pornographic stimuli was "unrelated to erectile functioning with a partner, and was related to stronger desire for sex with a partner." 280 straight male volunteers participated in the study, which took into account how often they view sex films, what their relationship status was and whether they had experienced erection problems. They found no link between increased viewing of pornographic material and ED.

Nevertheless, men who are heavily reliant on porn to reach orgasm may feel that their relationship is being affected. This may indirectly cause problems in the bedroom. If you feel that you are experiencing porn related ED and that it is affecting your relationship, it may be a good idea to abstain from masturbation in order to reinvigorate that psychical touch rather than simply clicking on a mouse.

How to treat porn induced ED

Due to the fact that porn in general is extremely easy to access, it can be very difficult to avoid it. This is because the internet can provide and endless stream from multiple sources and in various forms. However, there are a few methods that can be followed to prevent or treat porn induced ED:

  • Stop watching porn – as simple as this is it's imperative when attempting to restore sexual performance.
  • Avoid masturbation – this should be reserved for real-life sexual encounters.
  • Counselling – this can help with getting to the root causes if you are consuming too much porn. Effective forms of counselling can include psychosexual therapy Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
  • Prescription medication – modern medical technologies mean impotence is not inevitable. Erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra can all effectively restore a healthy erection during sex. These drugs are tried and tested, and have been used successfully by millions of men worldwide. More information about the various impotence treatments available can be found here at HealthExpress.