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Healthline Sexual Health

How Can Porn Induce Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man cannot achieve an erection or sustain one long enough during sexual activity.
It is one of the most common sexual challenges men face and can be very distressing. Some people, particularly those who have religious or moral qualms about pornography, argue that porn use can cause erectile dysfunction.
The research on porn-induced erectile dysfunction is mixed, with some studies supporting this connection and others arguing that pornography might actually help with EDTrusted Source.
ED is a complex health issue that has physical and mental health components. This article aims to break down the topic and present the evidence.

How does it happen?

Relationships, body image, and similar factors can also play a role in causing erectile dysfunction. For many men, ED does not have a single, identifiable cause.
Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is a controversial theory for explaining sexual problems.
Some proponents of the notion, such as this highly subjective blog from anti-pornography advocacy group Fight the New Drug, believe that pornography is immoral. This potentially makes their research more biased than a laboratory study from a neutral party.
Research in support of the link between pornography and erectile dysfunction argues that porn can desensitize sexual response. A 2016 article argues that more young men are seeking help for ED, and that this could be due to the desensitizing effects of so-called “hardcore” pornography.
Drawing upon case studies and a review of previous research, the article argues that pornography may decrease men’s satisfaction with their own bodies, triggering anxiety during sex.
Men who view pornography may need to progressively increase sexual stimulation to feel and remain aroused.
The use of pornography might change the way the brain reacts to arousal, making a man less likely to feel aroused by a real-life partner.
The use of sex toys might desensitize nerves in the penis, making it more difficult to get an erection because the nerves require more physical stimulation.
The lead author of this study, Gary Wilson, is the founder of an organization called Your Brain on Porn. Wilson’s campaign against pornography raises questions of bias. Other studies that find a link between pornography and erectile dysfunction uncover only a weak connection.
This suggests that, even when pornography is one possible factor behind a case of erectile dysfunction, it is unlikely to be the only factorTrusted Source.
A 2015 analysisTrusted Source of two large, cross-sectional studies also points to a link between pornography use and ED. The link in that study, however, was very modest. Just one of the two studies found a link, and that link was weak.
Additionally, only men who engaged in “moderate” use of Internet pornography reported more ED than those engaged in “high” or “low” use.
This undermines the notion that excessive use of pornography is desensitizing. The authors of the study argue that their data does not support public health concerns about pornography, and does not suggest that pornography plays a role in erectile dysfunction.

Porn and Erectile Dysfunction

Some other studies suggest that pornography might actually help with erectile dysfunction, especially when ED is due to psychological or relationship concerns.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source found that men who reported more time spent viewing pornography had greater sexual responsiveness to a partner in a laboratory setting. This suggests that pornography might help prime the brain or body for sex, potentially improving intercourse with a partner.
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