Does Porn Addiction Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Dr R. Y. Langham

Oct 13, 2021

Struggling with erectile dysfunction has become “a sign of the times” for both young and older men. With porn being so easily accessible, boredom from COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, fear of contracting coronavirus, and stress from being unable to work, it’s no wonder more and more people, especially men, are developing a porn addiction, and as a result, sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction (ED).

The good news is treatments for porn addiction and erectile dysfunction, also known as “porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” are readily available. The first step? Receiving porn addiction help with your “porn habit.” Once you get your porn addiction under control, your erectile dysfunction will improve and you’ll be on your way to reclaiming a healthy personal and sex life.

What is Porn Addiction?

Approximately 40 million Americans regularly view porn and at least 200,000 Americans struggle with a “porn addiction.”

So, what is porn addiction? Well, this type of addiction occurs when a person becomes dependent on or obsessed with porn – to the point that it disrupts his or her life – i.e., self-esteem, friendships, relationships, job opportunities, and ability to perform household, personal, and/or childrearing functions.

Porn addiction is common but often hidden from others. Its legitimacy, however, is often debated amongst researchers and experts. In fact, some researchers suggest that porn addiction isn’t even a real condition. Conversely, some physicians categorize porn addiction as a “hypersexual” or “sexual addiction disorder.” Hypersexual/sexual addictions typically involve extreme masturbation, cyber-sex activities, porn use, and/or other compulsive sexual behaviors.

Still, some mental health providers (i.e., counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc.) dismiss the notion of porn addiction altogether. While other mental health providers acknowledge the presence of porn in today’s society, however, believe it is not harmful in-and-of-itself. These professionals believe porn only becomes destructive when it starts to negatively impact one’s relationships.

In other words, advocates of this theory believe that porn use only becomes a problem if “the addict” and/or his or her partner deem it to be a problem. Porn is popular because it is available online, in books and magazines, and on television and movie screens. And, most of the time, it is also free, which is the main reason porn addiction has skyrocketed. Thus, porn accessibility has made it challenging, if not impossible, for porn addicts to stop viewing porn.

Understand, however, that viewing porn, even regularly, doesn’t automatically mean that you are or will become dependent on porn. There are other factors in play when it comes to developing a porn addiction. The good news is there is porn addiction help available if you have a “porn habit.” More specifically, there are numerous porn addiction treatments that can help you “kick” your “porn habit” and rejoin the land of the living!

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, involves being unable to achieve or maintain a hard erection before or during sexual activity. This condition is considered a “sexual dysfunction” that can be acute (temporary) or chronic (long-term). It can also pop up out of the blue or be permanent. The truth is there may not be a single, distinguishable cause for erectile dysfunction.

 

In other words, the exact cause of this condition varies from man-to-man, but, some possible “causes” of ED include:

  • Heavy porn use
  • Mental health conditions: depression, anxiety, body image issues, or a fear of being unable to “sexually please” a partner
  • Sex-based religious, familial, or societal guilt
  • Childhood sexual abuse or trauma
  • Relationship issues
  • Medical conditions: Parkinson’s disease, chronic kidney disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, bladder cancer, clogged arteries, or high cholesterol
  • Prescription medications: blood pressure medications, ulcer medications, antidepressants, sedatives, appetite suppressants, or prostate cancer medications.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse (or addiction), tobacco, or nicotine use
  • Penal scar tissue
  • Desensitization to porn
  • Sleep disorders (i.e., insomnia)
  • Pelvic or spinal cord injuries or surgeries
  • Low testosterone
  • Sedentary lifestyle

ED can trigger a host of mental and physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, performance, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, anger, frustration, headaches, delayed ejaculation, premature ejaculation, reduced sex drive, an inability to ejaculate, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, and/or reduced penal sensitivity.

Understand, however, that being unable to achieve or maintain an erection (occasionally) doesn’t mean you have ED. But, if you are unable to stay firm long enough for sexual activities more times than not, if your erections or lack thereof are tied to porn use, and/or if being unable to obtain or keep an erection is negatively affecting your self-esteem, sex life, and/or relationship, it may be time to seek porn addiction treatment.

Absolutely.

Did you know that approximately 98% of men view internet porn and 67% of men (specifically Pornhub users) view it on their smartphones? It’s true. Approximately 31% of men admit to viewing porn one to two times a week. Nearly 39% of these men admit to viewing porn three to five times a week. Another 19% admit to viewing porn between six and ten times a week.

And, approximately 7% of men admit to viewing porn at least eleven times a week. But, a 2019 study found that only 4% of men think they have a porn addiction. Even more surprising is that 70% of young heterosexual men, who frequently view porn, struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED). And, approximately 38% of men, in general, who have a “porn habit,” suffer from sexual dysfunction (i.e., erectile dysfunction).

A 2019 survey found that some young men, who prefer pornography to real-world sexual encounters, have a hard time “performing” sexually with a real person. Moreover, young men, who are addicted to porn, are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

And, according to experts, sexual behavior is triggered by the same neurological “reward system” as drugs and alcohol, and other addictive vices. When something (drugs and alcohol, gambling, eating, and porn-watching) is addictive, it increases the risk of repetitive behaviors. Therefore, viewing too much porn can increase your “tolerance” to porn – similar to the “tolerance” that occurs with narcotic use.

Chronic porn-watchers are less likely to respond to real-life sexual activity, and more likely to rely on porn for sexual tension. In fact, experts suggest that this “tolerance” not only triggers or worsens sexual dysfunction (i.e., erectile dysfunction) but also explains why some men, who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), prefer “pleasuring themselves,” while viewing pornographic images to having real-life sexual experiences with another person.

Research suggests that porn can cause sexually-inexperienced men to develop unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. In some cases, these unrealistic expectations can lead to a reduced sex drive and/or performance anxiety in the bedroom. This is especially true when their real-life sexual experiences do not live up to the “illusions” or “fantasies” they see on screens or in magazines.

Porn makes these men falsely believe that “good sex” resembles the images they see on their televisions, in movies, on porn sites, and in magazines. Men, who believe their sex life is subpar, may also experience pressure to “perform” in bed – so much pressure that they experience performance anxiety and sexual dysfunction like ED. Ironically, a recent study found no significant link between porn and sexual dysfunction in porn-watching women.

Can Porn Help Erectile Dysfunction?

The jury is still out…

Truth be told, study results are mixed when it comes to porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Some studies indicate that porn can trigger or worsen erectile dysfunction, while others suggest that porn may improve or prevent erectile dysfunction in some men. Men, who experience an improvement in sex after viewing porn, say that porn helps them be more sexually creative with their real-life partners. These men also say that porn helps them become “sexually aroused” before having sex.

Is Erectile Dysfunction and Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction the Same Thing?

Yes and no…

At the core, erectile dysfunction and porn-induced erectile dysfunction are the same. In other words, both conditions involve an inability to become and stay erect (hard) long enough to have sexual intercourse or partake in sexual activities. However, the two conditions diverge when it comes to what causes the condition. Erectile dysfunction, in general, can be triggered by a variety of factors (listed above). While porn-induced erectile dysfunction is usually caused by excessive porn-watching.

Sexual dysfunction is often the unintended consequence of excessive porn use for many male teens and adults. The most common sexual dysfunction for heavy porn use is porn-induced erectile dysfunction (ED). Porn-induced erectile dysfunction often presents when a male with a “porn habit” tries to be sexually intimate with a real-life partner, but is unable to due to unrealistic sexual expectations caused by “porn fantasies.”

In fact, multiple studies indicate that it takes excessive porn users a long time to have an orgasm from a real-life sexual encounter. Researchers also found that 23% of males (under the age of 35) have experienced some degree of porn-induced erectile dysfunction when attempting to have sex with their real-life partners. And, that 20% of male porn users have to ramp up their porn-viewing activities to achieve the same “sexual high” or “sexual arousal” they received the first time they viewed it.

Thus, researchers have concluded there is a relationship between extreme porn use (or porn addiction) and sexual dissatisfaction and porn-induced erectile dysfunction. And, that porn-induced erectile dysfunction does not stem from how often you masturbate or have an orgasm, rather, it appears to be linked to how often and how long you view porn.

For instance, if you spend the majority of your time watching porn on the web and masturbating to pornographic images (exciting, creative, sexy, graphic, and stimulating images and videos with multiple partners), over time, you may grow bored or disillusioned with real-life sexual encounters. More specifically, you may become bored and disillusioned with your partner, who does not “perform” like the young beautiful “adult models” or porn stars.

As a result, you may be unable to achieve an erection unless you’re viewing porn. This is porn-induced erectile dysfunction. If you are suffering from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, fret no more, because there are reliable and effective porn addiction treatments that can help you combat erectile dysfunction, so you can get back to having great sex!

How is Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction Treated?

Men experiencing porn-induced erectile dysfunction (porn addiction + erectile dysfunction) should seek porn addiction help. You must receive the porn addiction support you need to combat your porn addiction. Once you get a handle on your porn addiction, your porn-induced erectile dysfunction will most likely improve. Why? Well, because your erectile dysfunction is based on heavy porn use.

If you remove the porn and learn how to become aroused and take pleasure in your real-life partner, the roadblock that was preventing you from becoming erect before and during sex will no longer be there. Without this roadblock, you’ll be free to fully experience sex and sexual activities with your real-life partner. But, the first step is to seek porn addiction treatment. Why? Because porn is fueling your erectile dysfunction.

Listed below are steps you can take to help you get a better handle on your porn addiction:

  • Admit you have a problem and give yourself a break – The first step is to admit you have a porn problem. This is usually the hardest step. No one wants to admit he or she has a “porn habit” (porn addiction). But, if your porn-watching is consuming most of your free time and negatively affecting your life in one or more ways, you have a porn problem.

    Next, you’ll need to give yourself a break. Yes, you have a problem, but you’re not alone. Lots of men and women suffer from porn addiction. The good news is your “problem” is nothing that can’t be “fixed.” In other words, porn addiction help is available. There are a variety of porn addiction treatments that can help you get your “porn habit” under control.

  • Research porn addiction – It is important to understand the definition of porn addiction. You can’t seek porn addiction help if you don’t know what a “porn habit” or “porn obsession” is. So, google “porn addiction” and read some articles on it, or purchase books on porn addiction or check out some books on the topic at your local library.
  • Invest in an online porn cessation program – Online porn cessation programs like the “Stop Together” program can help you conqueror your “porn habit.” The “Stop Together” program offers a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach, helps you reduce how much time you spend viewing porn, teaches you how to control unwanted thoughts and urges, empowers you to regain your sexual health, and provides you with the skills you need to thrive after therapy.

    This program is backed by leading experts in the addiction field. It also provides you with an opportunity to get the porn addiction support you’ll need to beat your porn addiction. Ultimately, the “Stop Together” program can help you repair fractured relationships, improve your self-esteem and self-confidence, calm your nerves, clear your mind, form new connections with other people, and get your life back on track – all from the comfort of your home at an affordable price.

  • Join a porn addiction support group – People, who have a “porn habit,” typically view porn in private, mainly because they are afraid of being judged or criticized by others. It is this fear that prevents many porn addicts from getting the porn addiction help they need to banish the addiction. Support groups are especially beneficial for porn addicts, who feel uncomfortable sharing their innermost secrets with a counselor or therapist.

    However, talking to others (in a porn addiction support group format) helps these individuals feel less alone and more accepted. Support groups can also be motivating. More specifically, watching others persevere and come out on the other side of their porn addiction can be incredibly inspiring. A support group offers the hope of porn addiction recovery.

  • Lean on a friend – It’s hard, if not impossible, to beat a porn addiction alone. So, lean on a friend. In other words, talk to a trusted confidant (partner, friend, loved one, etc.) and tell him or her what you’re experiencing. If this person cares about you, he or she will not judge or criticize you. Rather, he or she will provide you with the porn addiction support, suggestions, and encouragement you need to recover from your “porn habit.”
  • Distract yourself – If you start to get the “itch” to click on a porn site or view porn images, distract yourself. You are most likely to view or watch porn when you become bored – so don’t allow yourself to become bored. Stay busy. Go for a walk or job around your neighborhood, work on a hobby, clean the house, wash clothes, play with your child and/or pet, call a friend or loved one, go grocery shopping, go to work or school, etc.
  • Lock-up your devices – In other words, put away your devices (i.e., smartphone, laptop, computer, and/or tablet) when the urge hits. If possible, put your devices in a locked box and give the combination or key to someone in your home. Then, ask this person to remove all downloaded pornographic images from your devices. If your devices are inaccessible, you are less likely to view porn. Also, have a trusted friend or loved one go through your house and throw away your hardcopy porn images.
  • Exercise – Exercising has a dual purpose – to help you with your porn addiction and to help you with erectile dysfunction. Exercising makes a good distraction when the urge to view or watch porn arises. It also produces and releases “feel good” hormones in your body which improves your mood. A 2011 study found that men struggling with erectile dysfunction experienced an improvement in their symptoms once they began exercising. So, if you need porn addiction help, exercising is a great first step.
  • Slow down on alcoholic beverages – Although alcohol doesn’t appear to be connected to erectile dysfunction, consuming large quantities of alcohol can impact your sexual performance. A 2007 study suggests that the amount of alcohol you consume is a significant risk factor for sexual dysfunctions (like erectile dysfunction). In other words, the more alcohol you consume in a given time, the higher the risk that it will negatively impact your sexual performance.
  • Ask for help – If you’ve tried all of these tips (and then some) and still haven’t been able to quit your “porn habit,” it may be time to see an addiction counselor or therapist. If possible, try to find an addiction specialist, who has experience in male sexual dysfunctions (like erectile dysfunction). There is no shame in asking for help if you are struggling with a porn addiction. If anything, it shows just how strong, brave, and cognizant you are. So, ask for help.

Note: Your doctor may prescribe a medication to help increase blood flow to your penis to help you get an erection. Common erectile dysfunction medications include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra. Although erectile dysfunction medications are generally safe and effective for most men, it is always best to try self-help tips and natural alternatives before resorting to prescription medications. Keep in mind, however, that it is possible to work on your porn addiction and erectile dysfunction simultaneously. Although, some therapists prefer to tackle one issue at a time.