Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction Is A Growing Problem

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Internet porn appears to be "sex-negative" for many users.

couple in bedA growing number of young, healthy Internet pornography users are complaining of delayed ejaculation, inability to be turned on by real partners, and sluggish erections.

Lots of guys, 20s or so, can't get it up anymore with a real girl, and they all relate having a serious porn/masturbation habit. Guys will never openly discuss this with friends or co-workers, for fear of getting laughed out of town. But when someone tells their story on a health forum, and there are 50-100 replies from other guys who struggle with the same thing, this is for real.

Threads relating to this issue are springing up all over the Web on bodybuilding, medical help and pick-up artist forums, in at least twenty countries. Notice from one such forum:

Due to the overwhelming emails and requests we have received concerning pornography addiction and erectile dysfunction, we decided to create an entirely different thread. ED due to porn is becoming rapidly common, especially for young men.

Desperate young men from various cultures, with different levels of education, religiosity, attitudes, values, diets, marijuana use and personalities are seeking help. They have only two things in common:  heavy use of today's Internet porn and increasing need for more extreme material.

Many have previously been to doctors, undergone various tests, and been declared "just fine" physically. Neither they nor their health care providers considered excessive porn use as a potential cause of their continued performance problems. Most were assured that "masturbation cannot cause erectile dysfunction." The final diagnosis was generally "performance anxiety."

Is anxiety really the cause? Here's a simple test: Try to masturbate (alone) using no porn and no fantasy—only sensual touch. Use the same speed and pressure as you would during intercourse. How erect is your penis without porn? If your penis is not fully erect, or it takes effort to become erect, then the chances are that anxiety is not the source of your problems. Persistent performance problems can certainly lead to anxiety, however. As one man said after he recovered following three months without masturbation or porn,

It's hard to tell where addiction ends and anxiety begins. I think a combination of the two is involved in a lot of situations.

Not long ago, Italian urologists confirmed an erectile dysfunction-porn use connection via a large survey. When interviewed about the survey, urologist Carlo Foresta (head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine and professor at the University of Padua) mentioned that 70 percent of the young men his clinic treated for sexual performance problems had been using Internet pornography heavily. (Foresta has now apparently conducted a study.)

The Italians are not alone. Other medical profesionals are beginning treat young healthy men who have developed porn-induced sexual dysfunction:

Recovery appears to take 6-12 weeks, and rests primarily on one factor: avoiding the extreme stimulation of Internet erotica. (Many also avoid masturbation for a time, either because at first they cannot masturbate without porn fantasy, or because climax triggers binging.)

Among those who recover, progression is surprisingly similar. Men typically report that after a few days of intense sexual cravings, their libido plummets and their penis seems "lifeless," "shrunken," or "cold." These "flatline" symptoms typically continue for up to six weeks on average, dependent upon age and intensity of porn use.

Gradually, morning erections return, followed by libido and, perhaps, occasional spontaneous erections. Finally, there is complete recovery of erectile health, sexual desire for real partners, sex becomes extremely pleasurable, and condom use is no longer problematic.

  • I am a 25-year old male, masturbating a lot from 13 and using porn from 14. Gradually, it took more to turn me on: bigger fantasies or harder porn, and I stopped getting hard without touching. During sex I would struggle to get an erection or keep it, especially for intercourse. Over the past 7 years I haven't held down a relationship, and the main reason for me has been this problem. Now the good news: When I realized the cause, I immediately gave up porn. Over the last 6 weeks I held off masturbating as much as I possibly could. (My best record was 9 days!) It all paid off. I just went away with a girl for the weekend and it was the best ever. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet. I still get pretty anxious from all the bad experiences over the years. But I just wanted to tell you all it can work, and it's well worth it!
  • Week 12, age 36 - I'm actually totally impressed how HUGE I get. It has been kinda hard to ignore. I mean, my erections are ROCK HARD and ENORMOUS. I remember asking other guys who went before me about when they noticed the return of their full erections. Well, I think I got mine back.

How can porn cause sexual performance trouble?

The cause appears to be physiological, not psychological, given that such diverse men change only one variable (porn use), yet report a similar recovery pattern. For these men, anxiety is secondary. (Note - a disturbing tend is emerging. Guys who used Internet porn during their adolesence need longer to regain their erectile health, see - Young Porn Users Need Longer To Recover Their Mojo)

Recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain's normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user's response to a neurochemical called dopamine.

Dopamine is behind motivation, "wanting" and all addictions. It drives the search for rewards. We get little spurts of it every time we bump into anything potentially rewarding, novel, surprising, or even anxiety-producing.

Animal models have established that both sexual desire and erections arise from dopamine signals. Normally, dopamine-producing nerve cells in the reward circuitry activate the sexual (libido) centers of the hypothalamus, which in turn activate the erection centers in the spinal cord, which send nerve impulses to the genitalia. A steady stream of nerve impulses, which release nitric oxide into the penis and its blood vessels, maintain an erection.

Nitric oxide in turn stimulates the blood vessel dilator cGMP, the on/off switch for engorgement and erection. The more cGMP is available the more durable the erection. So, the pathway from the brain to an erection is:

Reward circuitry (dopamine) > hypothalamus > spinal cord > nerves > penis

Erections start with dopamine and end with cGMP. Sexual enhancement drugs work by inhibiting the breakdown of cGMP, thus allowing it to accumulate in the penis. Yet if the patient's brain isn't producing enough signals in the first place, ED drugs will not increase libido or pleasure even if they (sometimes) produce an erection.

My ED is definitely porn-related because even erection pills do little but sometimes help enough to penetrate or get an erection. But, NEVER is the feeling good...because I still don't feel anything. I've lost most, if not all my sensitivity.

In the case of age-related erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular conditions or diabetes, the primary weak link tends to be the nerves, blood vessels and penis. However, for men with porn-induced erectile dysfunction, the weak link is not the penis, but rather the desensitized dopamine system in the brain.

The relevance of recent addiction brain science

In the last decade or so, addiction researchers have discovered that too much dopamine stimulation has a paradoxical effect. The brain decreases its ability to respond to dopamine signals (desensitization). This occurs with all addictions, both chemical and natural. In some porn users, the response to dopamine is dropping so low that they can't achieve an erection without constant hits of dopamine via the Internet.

Erotic words, pictures and videos have been around a long while, but the Internet makes possible a never-ending stream of dopamine spikes. Today's users can force its release by watching porn in multiple windows, searching endlessly, fast-forwarding to the bits they find hottest, switching to live sex chat, viewing constant novelty, firing up their mirror neurons with video action and cam-2-cam, or escalating to extreme genres and anxiety-producing material. It's all free, easy to access, available within seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Overstimulation of the reward circuitry in the brain is a very real possibility today.

Many men don't realize their brain's sensitivity is declining toward normal sex because Internet erotica delivers endless dopamine hits—making erection and climax possible where normal encounters would not. When they try to have actual intercourse and cannot, they understandably panic.

The brain changes causing porn-induced erectile dysfunction arise from actual physical addiction processes (among them, numbing of the pleasure response of the brain). Quitting can therefore be quite challenging. In addition to an alarming temporary drop in libido, some men experience withdrawal symptoms: insomnia, irritability, panic, despair, concentration problems, and even flu-like symptoms. Finding a good counselor who understands addiction, and why today's porn has different effects from viewing a Playboy magazine, can be very helpful.

The brain needs a chance to "reboot," that is, return to normal dopamine sensitivity. This can take a couple of months. For a science teacher's explanation of the science behind porn-related erectile dysfunction, see this video presentation: Erectile Dysfunction and Porn.

Most men are astonished to learn that pornography use can be a source of sexual performance problems. Instead, many are becoming convinced that ED at twenty-something is normal. They are amazed that heavy porn use can affect them adversely, that no one told them it could affect them, and  that humans have actually masturbated without porn. There is almost total ignorance about the significance for porn users of the recent discoveries of addiction science.

If you are suffering from youthful ED, and wish to restore your potency, be optimistic. As one man said after his successful two-month experiment:

A few facts:

1. This is 100% fixable.

2. It will likely be one of the most difficult things you've ever done.

3. If you ever want a normal sex life again, you kinda don't have another choice

4. If you started Internet porn at a young age the process can take longer (see - Started on Internet porn and my reboot (ED) is taking too long)

 For information and recovery accounts, see: Is my erectile dysfunction related to my porn use?


Also see -

Comments

I have to laugh at these pseudo-intellectual comments from those that seem determined to prove that the concept of porn-induced ED is bunk. It is smart to be skeptical and challenge any theory, but repeatedly making the same tired arguments without actually digesting the responses that address your questions is tiring. The phenomenon is real, I can assure you.

I am a married, 38 year old man in good shape, I regularly work out/jog, eat healthfully, don't smoke cigs, hardly drink alcohol, etc. For 37 years I had a normal, healthy sex life and had never, ever had any symptoms of ED. I had been using porn and Internet porn for years without trouble, but about a year ago, I guess due to boredom and habit I started looking at porn and reading erotic stories more regularly and throughout the day on my phone (and not necessarily even masturbating, just looking at a lot of stuff). I just enjoy sex and the feeling of being aroused and figured, there isn't anything wrong or unhealthy about being horny, right!

After about 1-1 1/2 years of this more constant exposure, a terrifying thing happened to me. While having sex with my wife, I started to occasionally lose my erection before orgasm. In several weeks, this soon progressed to penetration ED. I was devastated and wondered if I was very ill with a heart condition or some other ailment. For the next several weeks, things seemed to be getting worse and I was trying to figure out what the problem was. The strange thing was, if I used porn I could easily get an erection and masturbate (even 2-3 times in a day) so I actually upped my porn use to 'test' that everything was working! I now realize, this was just making things worse!

Things only seemed to be going downhill with partner sex, until I had a week where I was far to busy with work to look at much porn. That weekend, I made love to my wife and had no ED problems at all! Feeling invigorated, I assumed that the ED was just a temporary problem that had resolved itself. Great...problem solved, right? I rewarded myself the next day with some masturbation to porn, and was as hard as ever, so everything seemed to be fine. That same afternoon, my wife wanted to make love again...and I couldn't perform!! What the hell was going on? It had just worked yesterday AND this morning!?! Did the porn use exhaust my energy? I instantly put the porn-ED connection together and started searching the Internet. When I found this information, everything I was experiencing made sense.

I made a decision that day to immediately quit using all porn and masturbating (but continued having sex with my wife). Things were hit and miss for the first 6 weeks and then, amazingly, everything went back to normal and there is now absolutely no ED to speak of. I have not had any issues for months now...and my wife and I are enjoying some of the best, most intense lovemaking we have experienced in years. I now realize that porn had slowly been desensitizing me for a long time and I simply wasn't enjoying sex as much as I could have been. My wife says my penis feels larger inside of her (I am sure this is because it has not been fully erect for awhile). I actually had no trouble instantly giving up porn when I realized there was a problem. I simply overused it due to lack of understanding of the deleterious effects. I had always just assumed that porn was merely an empty, harmless, little thrill.

In any case, I can say from personal experience that porn-induced ED is real and can be cured through porn abstinence/masturbation reduction alone. I think that partner contact helped me immensely, as well. I get annoyed by posters here suggesting the authors are trying to push a moral point of view or want to somehow outlaw porn. It is clear they are trying to get the message out that ED can be caused by porn and it can be easily cured. Thank you!

Anonymous has commented on: "Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction Is a Growing   Problem"

Subject: yes

I am a woman and I can tell you from personal experience that women can be affected by it too. There was a period of time when I watched a lot of porn and found that my desire to have sex with my partner and to feel satisfied after having sex were greatly affected. I stopped all porn veiwing and sex as gotten so much better! Now the only problem is that I want more of it!

MedHelp - Edrummond

Fellas fellas fellas!!!! Stick with this plan!!!...i personally felt like no one wanted to be cured more than me. I followed the plan and got my first opportunity to see if it worked. I honestly believe I had the worst case of p e n the world...10 to 40 secs. My erections have improved to about 85%. I am living proof that this stuff works but u have to be strong and restrain from all PMO activities. I had one relapse in 90 days but I got my chance see if it worked with a new girl. stamina was back like never before. I couldn't believe it!!! Had to give my feed back, hope it inspires someone...be strong and you will be rewarded.      

Lost Virginity, Thank You No Fap

I finally lost my virginity and it is all thanks to YBOP and NoFap. Even though I was a star athlete and did well in school I had very low confidence when talking with girls. Occasionally I would try a one night stand type of thing and would always fail to get fully aroused.

Well, I met a nice girl and we started dating. When it came time to have sex I couldn't get fully erect. She thought it was performance anxiety and continued to give me chances. I finally put two and two together and realized my POM was the problem. I found YBOP and it completely changed my life.

I have been completely PM free for 37 days but I really didn't want to wait so, with a little "help" I was able to achieve a full erection. I am still slightly numb (imo a guy during his first time should not outlast the girl). Although, I see beautiful women everywhere, my confidence is soaring and I have a renewed sex drive. I just want to thank everyone that shares on this site and that has given me support! No P ever again, it almost ruined my life.

I know the PMO was causing the majority of my problems with girls. NoFap was definitely something I needed and still need. Keep working at it. I found getting some new hobbies helped, especially exercise.

 

You're wrong about that. People who use porn in relative moderation - 1 to 3 times a week - also develop erectile dysfunction and telltale signs of 'addiction', as long as porn is involved in a significantly large percentage of the times they masturbate. This is because of the brain's plasticity. I was absolutely shocked when I encountered ED because my porn use was nowhere near what one would classify as an addiction.

A man does not need to watch porn excessively in order to feel its negative effect, especially when it comes to ED. A man can masturbate only twice a week, but if both times he uses porn, and this goes on for years, the likelihood that he will develop porn-induced ED is huge.

Rewiring the brain does not take a lot, but it takes time.