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Porn induced erectile dysfunction: what you need to know

Porn induced erectile dysfunction: what you need to know

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Written by Rajive Patel, BPharm
Updated on 4 Sep 2023
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Porn. It’s not what it used to be. Gone are the days of top-shelf magazines or dodgy DVDs passed on the sly between colleagues and school mates.

Thanks to the internet you’re now two clicks from more smut than you could watch in a lifetime.

And despite being way more hardcore than a few cheeky mags, porn’s more accepted today than it used to be. Loads more people admit to watching it, both guys and girls.

But some guys are worried that watching too much hardcore porn has interfered with their ability to get and stay hard with real-life partners. And sometimes it happens, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

What is porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED)?

Porn induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is a condition where guys struggle to get or maintain an erection because of the type and the amount of porn they watch.

Back in the day – pretty much before the internet – erectile dysfunction (ED), mainly affected men over 40, and was usually associated with physical problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Since the turn of the millennium though, rates of erectile dysfunction among young men have apparently sky-rocketed (no pun intended). Some experts believe that one of the reasons this has happened is because young men are watching too much porn online.

Is porn-induced erectile dysfunction real?

It’s a controversial topic.

There is a correlation between the growth of internet porn and erectile dysfunction in young men, but no research has yet shown conclusively how watching porn could interfere with a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection.

Some people doubt the link between porn and ED, and some studies have even suggested that watching porn can help.

Regardless of what the experts are saying though, there are plenty of young guys that are having issues with their erections, with a lot believing it’s due to porn.

How does watching porn impact men’s sexual feelings?

PIED is a pretty new phenomenon and it’s not yet a fully recognized medical condition as there hasn’t been enough research to show there’s a definite link between porn and ED.

But there are some sensible theories on how watching porn can impact your sexual feelings, which has a knock-on effect on getting and staying hard:

Porn gives us unrealistic expectations of sex

It’s no secret that porn offers an unrealistic view of sex. The actors and actresses look great, are down for whatever and are usually uncomplicated nymphomaniacs. But that just isn’t real life.

For some guys it’s difficult to draw the line and watching unrealistic porn can lead to unrealistic expectations. That means they might be put off by more realistic sex with actual, complicated, emotional human beings.

Porn desensitizes us to sex

The more hardcore porn you watch, the deeper down the rabbit-hole you seem to go.

There is a theory that if you regularly watch porn you need to watch increasingly extreme porn to get off, like a drug user taking larger and larger doses of a drug to get their buzz.

The theory goes that regular sex with real-life partners just can’t compare to extreme porn and that it isn’t stimulating enough.

Porn makes sex feel more like fantasy than real life

Some think that if you regularly view porn through a screen it can stop sex feeling like something that happens in the real world. You can become disassociated from sex and come to think of it as something you watch, rather than something you do and actually want to do in real life.

Porn can make you too used to your own hand

If you regularly watch porn and orgasm more through masturbation than from sex you can become too used to your own touch.

You may reach the point where you can only get and stay hard if you hold and touch yourself in a very specific way that a partner can’t replicate.

Porn makes us anxious about our own performance

Porn performers are usually chosen for their physical attributes and sexual stamina. Regularly watching porn stars have sex can sometimes make people feel insecure about their bodies and their staying power.

This performance anxiety may make you feel too anxious to get aroused.

Porn makes us feel guilty

Some guys may feel so guilty about watching porn that they feel they’ve let their partner down and that they don’t deserve to have sex with them.

Tips for overcoming PIED

If you’ve had problems getting hard in the first place or maintaining an erection and you watch porn, the first step is for you to see if the two are related.

Try cutting out porn altogether or at least cutting back as much as you can and see if this affects your erections. You might have to do this for some time, especially if you feel desensitized or disassociated from sex. If your erections do return to their previous glory then porn could well be the cause, in which case you’ll need to watch less of it to improve your sex life.

You may decide to cut porn out of your life entirely, but if you don’t want to or you find you can’t resist you could try changing the type of porn you watch. You might find porn has less of an effect on your erections if you watch softer and more realistic sex, such as amateur porn.

If cutting out or reducing the amount of porn you’re watching doesn’t have any effect on your erections, then something else is probably causing your erectile dysfunction. There are lots of possible causes and some are more serious than others, so you need to take this seriously. Here you can learn more about the causes of erectile dysfunction and what you can do about it.

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