Porn Can Cause E.D.?

I mentioned in class that, strangely, porn can cause E.D. A male student said he’d thought it was the opposite, that porn cured E.D. Oddly, both could be true.

In a New York Magazine piece entitled He’s Just Not That Into Anyone Davy Rothbart, 36, admitted faking orgasm. (Apparently it’s easier for men to fake if they use a condom. Without, they can claim having had a small one.) Rothbart eliminated various possibilities. Antidepressants weren’t causing his E.D. And he got plenty of exercise. It didn’t matter which woman he was with, or what kind of condom he used, or whether he’d had alcohol, or how much.

But after learning that men were increasingly suffering from delayed ejaculation, and increasingly faking it, he began wondering if a “tsunami of porn” accompanied by “over-masturbation” were the culprits, as suggested by sexuality counselor, Ian Kerner.

Rothbart began interviewing others with this problem.

One man was always hard as nails with porn, but couldn’t get anything up with his lady. Another said, “I used to race home to have sex with my wife. Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn.”

Another had no problem getting aroused by his wife but, “In order to come, I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”

And so the real women in their lives fade away as a computer takes over.

Rothbart explains, “For a lot of guys, switching gears from porn’s fireworks and whiz-bangs to the comparatively mundane calm of ordinary sex is like leaving halfway through an Imax 3-D movie to check out a flipbook.”

Typically when a man has sex a combination of dopamine and oxytocin are released with orgasm, creating an emotional attachment to his partner. But increasingly, men are bonding with porn. Their brains are being rewired.

A cure is available: step away from the computer. Rothbart went without for a few days and no longer had to fake it.

Pamela Paul found this same phenomenon when she interviewed men about their pornography habits for her book, Pornified. Those who over-imbibed found it increasingly difficult to get it up with real women but gained relief when they decreased their porn consumption.

The problem isn’t porn so much as overexposure. Are you overexposed? Well, if you’ve experienced E.D. with real women but not with a computer screen, it’s likely.

Read Rothbart’s complete essay here: New York Magazine.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 14, 2012, in feminism, men, pornography, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Fascinating. I have faked it when I’ve been too drunk or have found myself in a fruitless relationship. Great blog, I look forward to reading many more.

  2. Weiyi Xia (Klark)

    It is funny that the joke about “being in a relationship with the computer instead of a real woman” has come true for some men now. It seems to me like men are machines that have certain amount of fuel to run on. While men spend more fuel on porn, they have less left for real women. The problem is not porn or computers, it is when a person is putting too much energy into one thing, it becomes harder for him/her to have enough energy for other things. Just like if someone is a master of music, you cannot expect him/her to be a master of sports too.

    It is nice that you point out that watching too much porn can cause E.D., because I think it is very important for people to know the truth, to see through the stereotypes of things.

  3. I totally believe it. Porn can be extremely destructive to the brain in regards to sex. It over stimulates you. Like when a drug addict over stimulates all his “feel good” hormones and he builds a tolerance and normal things like ice cream or a funny movie or falling in love lose their luster. The cyber world of porn has changed our culture dramatically. It is easily accessible and once it is accessed it is extremely pervasive and gives people unrealistic expectations about sex. A lot like women who use toys during sex, most men dont appreciate them; they feel insecure like they’re not good enough, “why does she need extra help?”. And when women try to wean themselves off the toy it is very hard to experience the same type or orgasm or it takes them a lot longer. They can overstimulate themselves. It can be extremely destructive to having a mutually happy sex life with your partner, porn can have the same effect as sex toys. Sexual chemistry is best in a monogamous committed relationship where they have a secure location, partner is regularily available, and there is trust to try new things and let inhibitions free. thats when the “porn-like” sex can happen. One night stands are typically awkward, it takes time to develope trust and feel safe sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually then a whole new level of
    “freakiness” can have room to blossom.

  4. This is really interesting and disturbing at the same time. The fact that you get so overstimulated and turned on by porn that you don’t get aroused or are unable to ejaculate when having sex. How sad is that? 😦 Technology taking over the bedroom. I really don’t think it’s healthy because the porn that these people are watching isn’t the real deal, they’re ”faking it” and you’re getting turned on by that. I understand that the scenes may be exciting or what not but nevertheless it is still fake and puts even more pressure to know that they can’t get their partners to reach orgasm.

  5. Unfortunately, the results of psychological research interest in porn lead to dire conclusions.

    Nowadays, pornography – it’s quite a thriving business, revenues generated from porn industry. What is offered porn industry? It’s just sex: lots of sex, all kinds of sex, anywhere, with anyone. As a result, porn culture equates sex, love and intimacy; it is distorting the meaning of these terms.

    In my opinion, to stop that , people should do remember that love and pleasure – not the same thing, a momentary pleasure not be your real feelings, and the virtual partner will never be the dearest and only companion of your life. In addition, children should receive sex education and knowledge of the love from childhood.

    Love one another.

  6. We live in an era when everybody wants to be special, to be successful, to be an over-achiever and it’s the same for sex. Porno movies give men the illusion that there is somewhere some opportunities for super-sex, sex that very few can get in real life.
    I believe that fantasy is always more beautiful than reality anyway. For some people it’s easier to have their imagination going in front of a movie than in a real life situation. In the usual solitude of porn watching men can imagine that they get all that they have always wanted. The porn star is not going to contradict them, they can think they are the most sexy, the most powerful men in the world. A real woman, wife, girlfriend or even one-night- stand can judge a husband or a partner, or at least he can feel that she is going to judge his performance. Plenty enough to loose control or to loose concentration in the sexual activity!
    I have been shocked to hear about all those date rapes with drug involved. Why would a man want to have sex with a sleeping beauty with no reaction? That may be the same reason. If she is unconscious, she is not going to judge him. I noticed than often boys are on the defensive when girls talk to them. They seem afraid that girls might laugh at them or doubt of their virility. That was the purpose of all the rites of passage that existed and still exist in some tribes. Boys were growing into manhood and were officially regarded as such by the whole community. Those rites of passage don’t exist anymore in our Western cultures, or are recreated by marginal groups like the gangs who can commit gang rape and dehumanize women or girls like those of the porn movies, with no life story, just a body for sex use.

    Also, I guess that men can be fooled by porn movies and have unrealistic expectations about how women perform sex. Porn can show situations that don’t often happen in real life like, for instance, showing women who only think about sex and who are so aroused just at the view of a man’s body (just making that thing up because I have no references! I don’t think that porno movies are aphrodisiac anyway… But that’s a woman’s view!!!). I certainly don’t think that it is good for boys and young men to watch porno because they get a wrong idea about what sexual relationships with women can be like.

    A lot of environmental or medical conditions can cause ED as well. ED can be a sign of stress or depression more than a sign of “over-masturbation.” Fortunately ED happens mostly in older or aging men…and in golfers. That was the joke that I made once while my husband was watching golf on TV: it’s amazing all the commercials for Cialis and others ED treatments that they show during the broadcast of golf competitions!

  7. I find this blog really interesting because porn can really be addictive and addicting for some people. Also, the simple fact that it can actually affect your sex life is extremely disturbing. But I find it also interesting how these people can allow technology too take over their minds and control their sex organisms. But i guess you can’t blame the men because these new and extreme porn videos that they have out can really make the mind wonder and have you men living in a fantasy and not in reality. Guys need to stop watching all the porn and not let porn ruin their life. I love this blog because now I can help guy friends struggling with this problem and inform them about ED and its causes and how to prevent it.

  8. Why is it that men aren’t satisfying women or with women not being pleasured its from men not pleasuring the woman. But when men’s can’t get off or hard, it’s not the woman but malfunction on his part? And guys blamed or porn blame for this? I think this is true, but what you are missing is that I don’t think it’s porn. Porn can be due to it, but its more likely, young men simply masturbating too much and getting used to their hand and the vigorous stroking from their hand. I believe it can cause the dick to become less sensitive and less sensation from so much “rubbing” on his dick from a lot of masturbation. His dick loses sensation and gets used to it, so a woman’s vagina doesn’t cause enough pleasure or feeling, becasue of the loss of sensation caused from rubbing it out so much and vigorously. So it can take much longer or men have a harder time getting off now.

    But porn is simply an instrument for men many times who are horny and want to masturbate and get off. Men I think can and do imagine stuff, but porn is quicker and easier, because it provides visual stimulation, so its easier for him to get stimulated and turned on so he can jerk off too and get off too easier and faster. But not every guy likes porn and some think its boring too. But yet all or most men like to jerk off, so some visual material is used or needed but it might not always be “porn”, Some guys might get off from a topless woman doing jumping jacks, but not sex.Guy’s can basically find something sexual a woman is doing or not, and use it to get turned on or jerk off too. So the culprit is masturbation. Men needing to jerk off less, but that’s very hard (no pun intended).

    It’s actually like a catch 22, because men who masturbate a lot more often than not, are, because they are horny and not getting sex. If they are getting sex and lots of it, they are not jerking off. But the reason men would be jerking off too much is for the lack of sex. So a man to not have this problem when being with a woman is to not being jerking off or less so, but a man not getting laid isn’t going to feel confident that he’ll get sex anytime soon. So though he doesn’t want this issue, he doesn’t want to be be sexless without sexual relief. The same thing (no sex) that is causing a man to jerk off too much, is the same thing that will ironically hurt him, when he does have sex with a woman. To help this is for a man to get sex regulalry and feel confident that it will come, so he can jerk off less, so he’ll be good when intimate with a woman. But that usually doesn’t go that way.

    • Men O nearly every time, whereas women don’t. So it’s harder for women.

      And the prob isn’t just male technique, but much more so, a society that represses female sexuality. In sex-positive societies women are easily and multiply orgasmic.

      Young men shouldn’t be experiencing ED, but increasingly are with porn. So it’s a problem if they want to have sex with an actual woman. The cure that works is cutting down on, or cutting out porn.

      The problem isn’t so much porn as overexposure, as I said. You’re overexposed if you can’t get it up for real sex.

  9. “Men O nearly every time, whereas women don’t. So it’s harder for women.

    And the prob isn’t just male technique, but much more so, a society that represses female sexuality. In sex-positive societies women are easily and multiply orgasmic.

    Young men shouldn’t be experiencing ED, but increasingly are with porn. So it’s a problem if they want to have sex with an actual woman. The cure that works is cutting down on, or cutting out porn.”

    The article just said men delaying orgasm and having to fake it more often. And what I’ve read is men also not having ED but harder for men to get off too. I’ve seen it in forums and what not of women saying their boyfriend can’t get off, and it due to him admitting to have masturbated a lot and his body being trained or getting used to vigous stimulation from his hand, that a woman’s vagina can’t give such grip and friction like a hand. So it trains a man’s penis to be less sensistive to more tender stimulation. I know it’s not porn, because I know a person who didn’t really care for porn, maybe watched it some, but watched other stuff just as much that couldn’t really be categorized as porn.

    This person simply jerked off a lot. He had an issue getting off from oral sex, because his dick was desensitized and couldn’t cum. It was confusing for his brief gf at the time and confusing for himself. You said a man who is overexposed to porn loses the breasts fetish or lose the luster. This person still got aroused by boobs on screen and in person quite a bit. The cure is cutting down on jerking off, but is a harder thing to do. As a man who is jerking off a lot is a man more likely who is not getting laid and has a very high sex drive. So while he wants to not have problems with a woman, he doesn’t have the confidence of having sex anytime soon and jerking off gives him the peace of mind he needs while being so sexually frustrated and horny and need the relief in the mean time.

  10. “I’ve written a number of related posts, I guess I discussed my comment above in a different one.”

    You know what blog it is that you’ve discussed your above comment in? You said it was in a different but related post. I’d like to see that comment you had that explained it, so I can see it. thanks

  11. “The problem isn’t porn so much as overexposure. Are you overexposed? Well, if you’ve experienced E.D. with real women but not with a computer screen, it’s likely.”

    You’re saying its due to watching too much porn if ed happens when with a real life woman and not the screen. But like I said, men are having these issues and who don’t watch much porn, but simply jerk off a lot or too much and get ed with women sometimes. And it has to do with getting too used to jerking off, too much and too vigorous and it trains the body to feel stilmulated a certain way and less so another. The reason I think this is the common denominator. Men watching too much porn, are jerking off to it and for that purpose and jerking off a lot. Men like my friend not watching much porn, but other visual stimuli or fantasies in their mind to get them off and jerk off a lot.

    And these men get the ed as well to women in person. What’s common with both? They are both jerking off too much and their dick desensitized and their mind perhaps accustomed to being solo and not with a woman. So when they are with one, they can’t get the stimulationn needed to get it up or keep it up because of how their body got used to a certain way. And because they got used to so much solo, it probably is more likely to cause them to not mentally be prepared which the mind is a powerful thing. Just nervousness can cause a man to lose his boner or lack of confidence can too as well as stress. This all leads to the greater chance of performance anxiety, which would make it tough for a man to get it up or keep it up.

    It’s like taking free throws and shooting well, but not plaing live games in front of a live crowd. And getting used to shooting free throws by yourself but then suddenly the man is not shooting a pressure free throw in front of a live crowd and he misses now because he doesn’t know how to handle people watching him and feels more anxious on making things work. Therefore, he missed shots that he was making in practice.

    • Maybe it can be just how things feel, I don’t know. But there’s plenty out there that shows that overexposure to porn creates this problem. And are these men masturbating to porn or just using their imaginations?

  12. “I don’t know. But there’s plenty out there that shows that overexposure to porn creates this problem. And are these men masturbating to porn or just using their imaginations?”

    Most men I know who watch porn, and just about all men watch porn to varying amounts. Most men watch porn for arousal and that arousal to get off and get their visual stimulation for their release. A man watching a lot of porn, is most likely jerking off a lot. Or he’s using that as material to jerk off later. There’s usually a purpose to porn. I think it would be hard for a man who likes and is aroused to porn to not jerk off if he’s by himself and can. So that’s the relation I see. Men overexposed to porn get used to solo work, get used to jerking off by themself and stimulation via visual and from their hand. And jerk off too much, desensitizing their dick and their mind to performance infront of a person and not solo.

    Men watching a lot of porn are more likely jerking off more than men not watching a lot of porn. I don’t think masturbation is bad. But I always believed moderation is key to everything. I think it’s apparently men can jerk off too much if it effects them in bed and the stimulation they feel.

  13. I suppose it doesn’t really make sense to me because I honestly have not spent any time watching porn. But, to me the whole thing sounds empty and lonely. If so many men would rather have sex with a partner who they love than a one night stand and thus, are looking for intimacy. Isn’t porn the exact opposite of that? On another one of your blog posts you wrote about how men are getting more romantic, but porn seems to be the exact opposite. I suppose the study should of included a wider range and added porn to the mix of it. It is interesting to note these two phenomenon are happening simultaneously.

    • I think these guys want to have it all, But unfortunately for them they cannot.

      Many, probably most, men find porn hugely pleasurable. Intimacy is another thing. And at first they don’t realize that one can harm the other. So they find themselves in a quandary. And many men end up giving up porn because intimacy is more important to them.

  1. Pingback: Sex, Rape, and College, Part Two: Now and Then « Yo Mama

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