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Porn addiction and ED in young men

Does this suggest that pornography is not good for your sex life?

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To determine whether porn addiction can induce erectile dysfunction we need to be clear on what erectile dysfunction is and what are the other causal factors when considering the greater picture of erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough and of sufficient quality to have satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Factors involved in erectile dysfunction

Generally speaking, as a person gets older, erections may take longer to achieve and might not be as firm and the process of having sexual intercourse may not be as instant as it was as a young man.  There may be a need for more touch and a slower and more sensual approach.

Risk factors that may contribute to erectile dysfunction include:

  • The use of tobacco, in the long term, can promote health problems such as restricted blood flow and other chronic conditions which may lead to erectile dysfunction
  • Obesity or just being overweight increases a man's chances of suffering from ED
  • An inactive lifestyle.  Taking regular exercise is vital when it comes to having healthy erections
  • Diabetes which is poorly managed can lead to a myriad of other health issues which are directly connected with ED
  • Alcohol abuse can affect a man’s ability to achieve an erection.  It restricts blood flow to the penis and can affect the production of testosterone which is required in order to have healthy erections as well as a healthy sex drive
  • Illegal drug use such as marijuana and cocaine can cause damage to the blood supply and so affect the ability to achieve an erection
  • High cholesterol levels can damage the lining of the blood vessels which supply the genitals
  • Stress and anxiety are leading causes of ED.  Being distracted can affect a man’s ability to become aroused

Causes of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a far from simple issue and it can have many causal factors which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries
  • Vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological damage as a result of injury, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease and Parkinson’s disease among others
  • Prostate problems
  • Reduced testosterone levels
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Some prescription medication such as hypertensive drugs, antidepressants and antipsychotics
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Surgery to the genital area
  • Injury to the genital area

Psychological or emotional causes can include:

  • Relationship problems:
  • Stress
  • Anxiety including performance anxiety
  • Poor body image

Porn and erectile dysfunction

It would appear that there are some disagreements between different sectors of society as to whether pornography is related in any way to erectile dysfunction and very much depends on which study you are reading.  Some studies support the argument that too much porn can cause sexual dysfunction whilst others support the view that porn can be effective in the treatment of ED.  

If a person or group of people take the view the view that pornography is immoral then it is difficult to see that any study they produce or are related to can be unbiased.  Research into the link between erectile dysfunction and pornography suggests that porn can de-sensitise a person’s sexual response; an article published in 2016 claims that young men who seek help for erectile dysfunction have the problem as a result of the effects of ‘hard core’ pornography. In addition, it is argued that watching pornography can highlight a man’s physical imperfections and this can lead to anxiety surrounding their sexual appeal.  This in turn can lead to erectile dysfunction.  It may be that the more pornography a man watches, the more stimulation they will need to become sexually aroused and sadly this may also alter the sensitivity to sexual arousal in the brain which can result in a man not being aroused by his partner

However, other studies that uncover a link between pornography and erectile dysfunction suggest that the connection is very weak.  Basically, this suggests that if pornography is one of the factors behind a case of erectile dysfunction, it is unlikely that it is the only one.  An analysis published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine published in 2015 says,

“We found little evidence of the association between pornography use and male sexual health disturbances. Contrary to raising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men's desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties.”

Some studies suggest that pornography may help in treating erectile dysfunction, particularly when the ED is related to psychological or relationship problems. A study published in 2015 found that men who spent more time watching pornography were more responsive to their partner which may suggest that pornography can help to prepare the brain and body for sexual intercourse and so lead the way to a more pleasurable sexual relationship.

Conclusion

It is fair to say that there does not appear to be any definitive evidence that pornography ‘addiction’ causes erectile dysfunction and a great deal more in depth unbiased study will be required to prove the point either way.

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