The Unrecognized Problem Of Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction

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    While it’s not talked about much, most people are aware that men can have problems getting and keeping an erection. What isn’t well known and almost never talked about is that the problem can arise from viewing porn. Yes, porn induced erectile dysfunction is a real thing, and it’s become a very common problem.

    Have you noticed how many commercials there are now for erectile dysfunction? It used to be that those funny Viagra commercials were just for older men – not anymore. Now the ads are aimed at young men. How come? What’s changed?

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    One thing that’s changed is the availability, use, and acceptance of porn. Younger men have grown up with the internet, seeing sexual imagery on it every day, whether directly on porn sites or through platforms like social media and online gaming.

    Unbeknownst to most men, and even many physicians, erectile dysfunction can be induced by porn. And in younger men it’s one of the primary causes.

    The Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Porn

    Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. Having some difficulty with arousal happens to almost every man at some point. It becomes a problem when this turns into a regular thing.

    When Viagra, the first erectile dysfunction pill, became available in 1998 the focus of treating ED was older men who due to aging had blood flow issues that resulted in ED. For instance, men with heart disease or high blood pressure would often also have ED. At the time, erectile dysfunction was viewed as a side effect of a medical problem like heart issues or taking certain medications.

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    The most famous television commercial for Viagra was an endorsement from ex-presidential candidate and Senator Bob Dole, who was then in his mid-70s. He perfectly represented the population of men who struggled with erectile function. It wasn’t a young guy problem – then.

    However, another thing was also growing in popularity in the late 90s and that was the internet and development of internet porn. Over the next 20 plus years the increased use of the internet and technology in our lives has led to porn addiction becoming a common problem today.

    While it might seem contradictory how a man looking at naked women online (the purpose of which is obviously for sexual arousal) could be connected to becoming impotent (the inability to get an erection), there is a connection – a big one. It’s true, porn causes ED.

    Husband 67, me 58, married 32 years (I have a really good body). Last year says he lost all sexual desire. He uses Cialis (ED medication) but not even that enabled him to get an erection. He told me that after years of struggling with constant lust as most men do, it felt good to not have desire. I could truly understand how he could feel that way and I began my own journey to deal and be okay with a sexless marriage. I just discovered that he has been looking at porn and masturbating. This is not the first time and I thought that we had worked through it the last time it happened probably 6 years ago. After discovering two days ago that he is looking at porn again, we had a talk about it. He said that he was hoping to have this talk but was embarrassed. I think he is at peace after the talk because he blames the whole thing on the embarrassment of ED and said he wants us to work on new ways to be intimate. I have been very understanding of how embarrassing this is for him and had told him that I was willing to work with him and had no expectations. He admits that I have tried to be understanding. However despite that rather than communicate with me, he turned to porn. I'm not okay but don't know if I just need to believe him and give him a chance or pursue this further. He hates counseling like most men and will be upset with me for not being able to lay this aside. He is a good man but I feel in my heart that he is not being totally truthful about why he was looking at explicit porn when I was dealing with accepting that our sex life was over. He says he was looking at it to help create desire. I believe that some of that is true but not all of it.” -Maryann

    Maryann’s story is an example of how erectile dysfunction and porn often go together, and no one connects the dots as to the possible deeper reason why. Her husband says he’s trying to deal with his ED by looking at porn, likely true, but it’s also likely true that he was viewing porn before he developed ED and that his ED could at the very least partially come from his viewing.

    What Is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction?

    As the name porn induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) implies, viewing porn can lead to erection problems. But that doesn’t make sense, does it?

    How can getting aroused lead to problems getting aroused?

    Well, you’ve probably heard the saying that – ‘Too much of a good thing can be bad.’

    The truth is that too much porn can be bad for your sexual interest, arousal, getting erect and ability to orgasm.

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    Our brains release the pleasure chemical dopamine as we become sexually aroused – this is why it’s so enjoyable. For most people the process of sexual arousal has a finite time limit. You may get aroused and nothing else happens. You may get aroused and it leads to some form of sexual activity, perhaps even orgasm. But this typically doesn’t go on for hours and hours, or several times in a day, or day after day.

    Watching porn on the other hand often does last for hours and hours – I know men who will start watching when their wife goes to sleep at 10 pm and keep watching until they have to go to work the next morning at 6 am. Some guys watch several times a day. Others will watch every day or go on a binge and watch for days on end.

    Sounds a little like a drug, doesn’t it? That’s because porn has the same effect on us as a drug.

    I found out accidentally my husband has been watching hard core porn for at least 2 years. I don't know if it's been longer as he didn't have a tablet before then and he wasn't working and living out of town. While living out of state he was watching porn just about every day and then 3-4 times a day. When his job ended and he came home, I was using his tablet one night and stumbled onto the fact he had been watching porn. Since he never deleted his history, it was easy to check. Sure enough, he was telling me he was going to bed around 9 pm, but as soon as we hung up from Skyping around 9 pm, he was on the porn sites and this was almost every night. He doesn't sleep well, never has, so he gets up around 3 am and watches porn again for approximately an hour. Goes back to bed at 4 am and gets up at 5:30 am and starts watching porn around 6 am for about 30 minutes. Has to be at work by 8 am, gets back on the porn site at 7:30 am for 15 mins and then off to work. Comes home for lunch, gets on the porn sites for 30-45 minutes and goes back to work. Gets off work at 5 pm, home by 5:15 pm and on the porn sites by 6 pm at the latest. Watches porn for an hour and then calls me on Skype at 8 pm and we Skype until 9pm. This went on from one week before he left to go out of state for his job and lasted a full year while he was working out of state. When he came home, he was on the porn sites every 2-3 days whenever I was sleeping and I slept until about 3 pm. I confronted him about it and he just gave me a blank stare. I asked him why and he said 'it's a guy thing.’ I told him it was NOT a guy thing and I wanted the truth. He said ‘We haven't had sex in 5 years. What did you expect me to do?’ I told him that wasn't true. Yes, our sex life was a problem, however, it wasn't 5 years. He said ‘Yes it has been because I've been keeping track.’ I told him, well you lost count somewhere along the way. No matter how long it's been that's no excuse for you watching porn. You could have come to me and said something. We could have talked about it. Then he says he has ED and has had it for a while along with Low T, but he hasn't been to a doctor to have any tests so he doesn't know for sure he has Low T. He's just going off of what he's read on the Internet. He self diagnoses himself quite often without going to a doctor. I'm concerned it's not just ED or Low T.” -Jasmine

    Porn addictive behavior like I’ve described above, or of Jasmine’s husband, leads to the release of too much dopamine, which causes the chemical to lose its effect on the brain. This is a primary cause of lack of sexual arousal and erectile dysfunction that is too often ignored.

    Additionally, porn is often accompanied by masturbation. This repetitive stimulation by touch, combined with simultaneously watching porn, increases the dopamine problem while also reducing tactile arousal over time. As a result, many porn users also have sensation arousal problems due to the excessive stimulation through masturbation.

    Treatment For Pornography Induced Erectile Dysfunction

    Most ED assessments focus on identifying the obvious symptoms so a diagnosis of the problem can be made (can’t get/stay erect), then medication is prescribed to stimulate blood flow (what causes penile erection). But these screenings typically ignore finding the possible causes for why arousal is no longer occurring, especially in younger, healthy men in which blood flow should not yet be an issue.

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    Today, a thorough and proper ED evaluation must include the influence of porn viewing along with a physical examination.

    Sadly, porn induced erectile dysfunction is not typically diagnosed or treated. And ED medication, while capable of causing erections, does not address the true cause.

    What a relief to find your blog! I am desperate for help and unsure what to do. My partner, who watched soft internet porn videos, has now stopped (approx 6 months ago). We have been together for just over a year, living together for the past 6 months. Since I have known him, he has been impotent. I believed it was the diabetes he has...his sugar levels are now normal, his prostate has been checked, bp meds are fine, etc. We obtained injectable meds, which worked for a few months. Now, since he has stopped using the porn, even the injectable meds do not give him an erection. We understand it is because his brain is looking for the same 'high' it experienced with the porn, and it is impossible to achieve it with me. He feels unable to go for counselling... meanwhile I am engaged in a struggle to help him face the ‘lie’ that the addiction has told him - he believes he will never find sex exciting again unless he tries to replicate a porn style of having sex. I am trying to explain to him that the porn addiction has given him ED, damaged his brain, and so he needs to accept the reality that the kind of sexual high he was achieving with the porn, is something he should despise and recognize as having destroyed his ability to have normal sex with a woman. He first developed the ED about 4 years ago but did not understand that it was caused by the porn use. I am so desperate - I know that I don't need to tell you how devastating this is to a woman. I feel that if he could manage to recognize that the porn highs have destroyed him, he would be able to let go of the concept of having 'prescriptive sex' i.e. exact sound effects, exact visuals, etc. that replicate the porn. I do not want to lose this relationship as we both love each other dearly, but I cannot work with his denial on this.” -Beth

    Treatment for PIED is really treatment for porn addiction. When the porn addiction is resolved for a long enough time to reverse its effects the erectile dysfunction typically goes away. This is what Beth’s partner needs.

    At Guy Stuff, treatment of a porn addiction entails developing a recovery plan. Some of the elements include learning tools to control viewing, discovering the true whys for watching (there’s a lot more to it that liking breasts), understanding of how porn is used like a drug, rewiring the brain and reversing the porn effects, and accountability.

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    In addition to the ignorance regarding porn induced erectile dysfunction, even among health providers, the common refusal of men to acknowledge they have a problem and get help is also a big obstacle. Porn causes a lot of problems – ED just happens to be an obvious problem with an unrecognized connection to porn.

    What’s been your experience with erectile dysfunction? Were you aware that erectile dysfunction can be connected to porn? Please share what that’s been like with other readers and they’ll likely respond to you too.

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