Male doctor and erectile dysfunction concept.


Can Porn Really Cause Erectile Dysfunction? Can You Cure It?

Erectile dysfunction is when a man cannot maintain an erection.

It can be caused by a variety of factors, and it is more common among older people, although is not a natural part of aging. The condition can be embarrassing, but it is treatable.

There has recently been a controversial question among researchers regarding ED: Can pornography cause erectile dysfunction?

One major and frequently cited study in favor of the argument that pornography does indeed cause ED was headed by researcher Gary Wilson. It draws a link between porn use and a rise in reported cases of ED among young people.

It must be noted that Gary Wilson is the founder of the anti-pornography organization Your Brain on Porn. Whether his bias bled into his work or not, it was in his organization’s best interest for the study to net a certain result. (Learn More)

Other sources and studies contradict Wilson’s claims. Notably, many claim the rise in cases of erectile dysfunction among younger people may actually be attributable to a decrease in the stigma associated with the condition. As topics become less taboo, self-reporting about those topics logically becomes more accurate. (Learn More)

The causes of erectile dysfunction are complex. It is not unreasonable to suggest porn may have a negative psychological impact on some people, leading to ED. However research seems to indicate this is not a common outcome.

While the topic is worthy of more study, current research seems to suggest it is unlikely that porn will cause a person to develop erectile dysfunction. (Learn More)

Pornography and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is when a man cannot maintain an erection, interfering with their ability to have sex or orgasm. It is a relatively common condition, mostly associated with people who are older, but recent studies have found a rise in ED among younger people.

The cause of this spike is a worthy topic of discussion. Some claim the rise in erectile dysfunction among young people is related to pornography. This theory proposes that as people are exposed to large amounts of sexual material, they may grow dissatisfied with their own bodies, those of their partners, and have a hard time staying aroused, or they may grow nervous, feeling inadequate.

Putting aside any ethical or moral arguments surrounding pornography, which has been a controversial debate all its own for decades, whether pornography causes ED is an issue all its own. Evidence is mixed on the matter, and much of the most direct links come from sources with a clear bias.

Links Between Porn and Erectile Dysfunction

One of the most cited studies in favor of a link between erectile dysfunction and porn was led by a man named Gary Wilson. This is notable because Gary Wilson is also founder of organization called Your Brain on Porn, an anti-pornography proponent. It is in the author’s best interest for his study to have shown a certain result.

His study did collect patient data related to the rise in ED among young people in recent years. The study concludes one major contributor (though it does not claim it is the sole contributor) to this rise is pornography. With the rise of the internet, it is undeniable that easy access to large amounts of pornography is far more widely available than ever before.

Wilson and his team’s study is not the only one linking pornography to erectile dysfunction, but most other studies present a much milder link. Other studies present no link at all, or they even suggest that pornography may in some cases help with ED.

If pornography contributes to erectile dysfunction, a more thorough study with researchers less invested in a particular outcome, even if that bias is only subconscious, is required.

checking for STDs

Other Explanations for the Rise in ED

As Dr. David J. Ley points out, society used to have far more stigma around what was acceptable to discuss. While talking about erectile dysfunction with a doctor can still be embarrassing for many, it is not generally regarded as a taboo or shameful topic. It would be unfair to say the stigma is completely gone, but it has certainly faded.

This is relevant because it may be heavily skewing past data. In the past, many men were likely to simply not talk about their ED, even with a doctor. It is unlikely many would report it or allow their information to be used in any kind of study, out of fear of the social stigma. This could make much of the past data inaccurate, with data getting more accurate as the social stigma faded.

Lev continues by pointing out the lack of much research on the topic of porn causing erectile dysfunction, the fact that consistently watching porn may also indicate long hours on the internet and a potentially stagnant lifestyle, and newer studies that directly conflict with Wilson’s findings.

Will Porn Give You ED?

The causes of erectile dysfunction are varied and complex, with the condition often coming from a combination of factors. It also comes in different levels of severity, with some people dealing with ED only occasionally during sexual encounters, and others frequently struggling with the problem.

While it may seem logical that pornography could lead to certain psychological mindsets that may lead to ED (embarrassment of your own body, dissatisfaction with a partner, or displeasure in your overall sex life), the current evidence suggests this is, at best, a rare outcome. ED is linked to a combination of factors rather than pornography alone.

Porn’s impact on society and one’s own psychology is hotly debated, and it is likely to be for years to come. While it is a valid topic of research, the current research conflicts enough that it would be unreasonable to suggest porn is likely to cause ED, even if it may in very specific cases.

References

How Can Porn Induce Erectile Dysfunction? (July 30, 2018). Medical News Today.

Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. (September, 2016). Behavioral Sciences.

An Erectile Dysfunction Myth. (August 29, 2013). Psychology Today.

Erectile Dysfunction. (April 29, 2019). MedlinePlus.

Erectile Dysfunction. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).