Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction: The Danger of Internet Porn Addiction in Men

Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction Overview

According to a study, watching too much pornography can cause erectile dysfunction.

It is estimated that eight in ten men between the ages of 18 and 30 watch online porn monthly. And before they reach the age of 18, almost 90% of young boys have already been exposed to pornography.

The American Psychological Association published its study on pornography addiction. Accessibility to online porn via unrestricted mobile devices has made it easier than ever.

The late Dr. Alvin Cooper, a  clinical psychologist and expert on cybersex, called this the “triple-A engine” effect: The accessibility, affordability and anonymity provided by the Internet have put explicit material right at our fingertips.

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets with more ubiquitous access to pornography, therefore, a rising number of young men are seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction  (also known as “Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction” ) because of their addiction to internet porn.

New studies suggest that frequent exposure to pornographic images and x-rated videos may lead to the numbing or desensitizing of brain’s normal response to pleasure. Leaving men in their late teen and early 20’s unable to get aroused easily in the bedroom.

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What is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction?

What is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction?Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep a full erection by command needed for satisfactory sexual intercourse. It can be a long term or even permanent  sexual dysfunction.

ED can affect men for a number reasons, including physical, psychological, or neurological causes.

However, Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED) is another form of erectile problem that affects young  healthy men in their late teens and early 20s due to jerking off to porn too frequently.

Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School says that many young men today are suffering of what he calls ‘porn induced erectile dysfunction’.

These men are young healthy that can’t maintain an erection with a real partner – no matter how she looks,  but they seem to be able to get an instant erection while watching porn.

The problem for these guys is not below the belt, but actually between the ears (brain). You see real sex is about touching, being touched, and really connecting with someone. However, internet porn is about digital voyeurism, endless searching, clicking, and interacting with your hand or even prolong masturbation (edging).

If you train your brain for porn, that’s how you best perform. So when you’re with a real woman, you’re ‘pornified brain’ isn’t sending enough of a signal below your belt to get aroused.

For some men with PIED, typical sexual intercourse no longer satisfies, resulting in a drop in dopamine.

Porn induced erectile dysfunction can also lead to other sexual dysfunctions. According to Behavioural Sciences Journal claims that internet porn mimics drug-like addiction qualities, leading to lowered sexual “pleasure” and decreased libido.

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Symptoms of Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction 

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
  • Difficulty of achieving an erection with an in-the-flesh partner, but easily get an erection and orgasm with porn
  • Struggling to keep a solid erection (erectile dysfunction) without watching porn
  • Needing to fantasize to maintain an erection or interest with sexual partner
  • Losing an erection while attempting penetration
  • Difficulty reaching an orgasm with a partner (delayed ejaculation)
  • Can only reach orgasm with a partner by fantasizing porn imagery in his mind
  • Unable to maintain an erection or ejaculate with oral sex
  • Craving for more extreme porn (sometimes porn that doesn’t fall within your sexual orientation)
  • Earlier genres of porn are no longer exciting
  • Experiencing greater sexual excitement with porn than with a partner
  • Constant craving for masturbation, but little to no satisfaction
  • Sexual performance anxiety develops due to excessive porn use
  • Decreasing penile sensitivity
  • Decreasing sexual arousal with a partner
  • General fatigue
  • Lacking motivation and concentration
  • General and social anxiety develops

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Can Porn Addiction Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health about 30% of young  men have erectile problem. On the other hand,  the Journal of Sexual Medicine published an article that one in four guys are seeking medical help for ED, which are now under 40 years old. Urologists are seeing a major shift compared to a generation ago because more and more young healthy men are being referred without the organic cause of ED.

It is interesting to note that these patients are not responding to ED medications…WHY? Because the root of the problem isn’t in the penis, but it’s the brain.

Can Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction?

Neuro-scientific studies proved that porn does impact the brain, which can lead to sexual health issue.

A recent study from the Department of Psychiatry at the Cambridge University looked at brain activities  among young men who are porn addicted, concluded that:

 As a result of excessive use of sexual explicit materials, subjects experience diminished libido, or Erectile Dysfunction.

Even among men who aren’t addicted to porn can have a negative impacts on their brain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Association of Psychiatry, researchers actually measured how the amount of porn use correlated to changes in the brain structure and how different regions of the brain responded to sexual images. Researchers found the number of years who watch porn and the more course per week have lower brain activation. (See picture below)

Researchers said the more intense your porn exposure, the more your brain has a down-regulation response. In a nutshell, the more porn you watch, the less sexual arousal you experience.

Porn induced erectile dysfunction: Your brain on porn consumption

Your Structure on Porn Addiction Image: JAMA Psychiatry

The good news is that a lot of guys are getting over their ED by quitting porn and masturbation.

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How Porn Can Damage Your Brain Leading To Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction?

Compulsive use of pornography reconditions the way your brain responds to certain stimuli. In this case it is the release of dopamine, a chemical that is a key player in your brain’s reward circuitry, which changes the way it behaves.

Your brain’s reward system tries to control and regulate behavior by prompting pleasurable feelings via its complex brain structures. These rewards tend to reinforce the behavior that induced the reward to begin with, and as is the case in addiction, this can lead to a downward spiral as the addict struggles to flood his system with more dopamine, and his brain’s sensitivity slowly decreases, leading to a diminished pleasure response.

And while this desensitization is happening (which leads the addict to seek more and more ways to become aroused), certain pathways have become sensitized and are now established addiction pathways, responsible for the sufferer conditioning their sexual behavior.

Any man who is suffering from porn-induced sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether he is addicted to porn, should step away from porn for at least a few months. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this helps the brain and body to “reboot,” and eliminates the sexual dysfunction[iii] in ways that erection-enhancing medications cannot.

Regrettably, porn addicts are often reluctant to seek help for their addiction and/or its symptomatic sexual dysfunction. Sometimes they just don’t understand that their solo sexual activity is an underlying cause of their inability to perform sexually with real-world partners. Other times they are simply too ashamed of their behavior and its consequences to talk about it, even with a medical or psychotherapeutic professional. And even when they do seek help, perhaps visiting a medical doctor to seek help with erectile dysfunction, they are rarely asked about porn use. Instead, doctors simply check for obvious physical causes and if/when they don’t find any, they write out a prescription for Viagra or a similar drug. This unfortunately leaves the patient’s core problem undiscovered and untreated.

The Neurochemicals Behind Sex

Habitual experience is only part of the learning equation. After all, people experience a variety of activities that never stick. In fact, you probably do some things over and over in an attempt to learn something new and get incredibly frustrated at your lack of progress.

So why does porn have such an impact? Why do many therapists, psychologists, and neuroscientists insist it is addictive? In a nutshell, it has a lot to do with the therapy term “attachment.” Therapists and neurologists use this term to describe how the brain neurochemically bonds and remembers how to react to a stimulus.

“It’s not so much the stimulation [the image, video, experience, etc.], it’s what is done with the stimulation,” Weiss said. “The initial arousal of novelty will be there, but that is not much of a threat until it’s attached to the sexual experience [through masturbation].”1

Pornography attachment can be very strong because masturbation and orgasm produce a fireworks display of neurochemicals and repetition builds neural pathways to enable patterns of behavior. The episodes are even more enhanced with other feelings, including fear of getting caught, secrecy, and novelty. This chemical and hormonal explosion takes learning to a whole new level. People often remember their first orgasm, including where they were and how it happened, even if that experience happened decades ago. Yet, they probably don’t remember much else about that day, unless it was their wedding day or the events were traumatic.

This brain chemistry plays a major role in creating neural pathways that establish patterns of behavior and triggers that spark a person to engage in specific behavior. To better understand how these chemicals enable sexual learning, here is the basic list and the roles they play.

Dopamine

Dopamine is one of the superheroes of the brain because it has so many powers.

If someone could siphon away your dopamine, it would be worse than sitting in a vault of Kryptonite. Even Superman wouldn’t do much of anything. He might not even eat or drink. Dopamine focuses your attention on whatever task is at hand and motivates you forward.

It activates or enhances rewards circuitry that make you feel good, and it also plays a major role in memory. It helps us to recall what is important in our environment, and to remember the appropriate response to a stimulus, according to bioneurologist Dr. Williams Struthers.

Dopamine “fuels the tension and craving for meeting a need,” he writes in Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain2. That’s why dopamine is released in response to all drugs of addiction, and plays a role in many disorders affecting motivation and attention such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and behavioral addictions.

Essentially, dopamine helps the brain remember what is interesting and how to respond to it. It focuses the mind on a specific task while other concerns are ignored, saying, “Hey, do this now!” It provides a neurological reward that feels good, and assists in cravings for more of the activity.

Without doubt, dopamine is either a superhero or a super foe, depending on whether an activity affects a person positively or negatively.

Testosterone

Often cited as the male hormone (although women have it in lesser amounts), testosterone dramatically increases sexual arousal and desire, Mark Kastleman writes in The Drug of the New Millennium: The Brain Science Behind Internet Porn Use.3 It is a hormone that is released in men throughout the day, but when sexual cues are picked up by the brain the testes increase production.

That’s why castration is used to remove sexual drive in eunuchs and sex offenders, explains Struthers.

Pornography (and the mental fantasizing that it enables) crafts a brain that constantly generates testosterone and heightens sexual desire. With this ever-present sexual desire, the brain is ready to interpret any signal (external or internal) and ramp up the perceived need for sexual activity. Interestingly, men with strong feelings of commitment to their spouse tend to have lower testosterone levels. This may be a reason why these men may be less likely to commit adultery.4

Because testosterone is slow to dissipate, men who habitually view pornography cause their own chemical imbalance. This high testosterone level increases their sexual awareness far above normal. Sexual fantasies are sparked by everyday objects and even modestly dressed women are seen as provocative.

Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter often associated with stress and the fight-or-flight response, helping us to be more alert. It also acts as a hormone for sexual arousal and sexual memory, and it helps us burn emotional experiences in our minds. Whether it’s a wonderful sexual experience with our spouse or a provocative sexual image, the information is stored for easy recall with the help of norepinephrine.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is often referred to as the bonding hormone, and big releases arrive when mothers and fathers hold their newborn babies. It is often called the cuddle hormone because oxytocin levels rise when a couple snuggles, hold hands, or express other forms of intimacy. Oxytocin is one reason a kiss is so powerful.

It also plays a big role in sexual bonding to one’s mate and triggers the contractions during male orgasm. In his seminars, for example, Dr. Todd Bowman of Lifeline Counseling Center encourages married couples to enjoy face-to-face sex that provides as much skin contact as possible for the greatest release of the bonding chemical.5

Because oxytocin is also released in climax, it can have a negative impact for the porn user. Instead of bonding to a real mate, the porn viewer’s brain bonds to the image, video, or situation, especially when the activity is reinforced through repetition.

Vasopressin

Working in concert with oxytocin, vasopressin also encourages the feelings of bonding and is slowly released during sexual activity and at climax. As with oxytocin, the release of vasopressin during porn viewing and masturbation works to cement a person’s attachment to this behavior.

Endogenous Opiates

People were designed to have an amazing sexual experience. The body produces natural or endogenous opiates, which during climax provide pain relief and a sense of transcendence and euphoria. Think opium, naturally produced by the body.

Serotonin

Serotonin is released after climax and brings feelings of calm, wellbeing, and satisfaction. High serotonin levels also decrease sexual motivation. These factors help explain why men are often accused of being ready for a nap after sex.

PE Gain