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Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED): Is It Real and What to Do

porn induced erectile dysfunction conveyed by porn on a laptop

Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man cannot achieve an erection or sustain one long enough during sexual activity. Historically, the prevalence of ED increases with age. However, recent research suggests ED is on the rise in young men.¹ Though the exact cause is unknown, some experts have started examining whether porn could be causing ED, particularly in young men. Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED), is still a relatively new concept.

We’ll look at the current research and ways to treat Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction, according to sex counselors and coaches

Is Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction a real issue?

Pornography has gotten a lot more accessible. Prior to the internet, you would need to buy a magazine or rent a video. Now porn is available all the time and with endless variety. With this availability, some researchers wonder if it’s too much of a good thing. 

“With porn the newness is always available,” according to Amy Baldwin, a somatic sex coach for Juicebox and co-creator of the Shameless Sex Podcast, “watching porn produces a lot of dopamine really quickly.” 

Evidence of Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction is not conclusive, however some researchers have suggested it’s better to look at whether pornography is conditioning men to become accustom to a higher level of stimuli. This conditioning can make it more difficult to become aroused during partnered sex without porn. For instance, some research has shown that cutting back on pornography can restore sexual performance.² 

It is important to consider whether it’s the use of porn specifically that is the problem. Alternatively, it may be the effect of conditioning ourselves to become aroused by vary specific pornographic stimuli that is very different from real life. 

Aside from ED, Baldwin points out that the main problem she sees in connection to porn is ejaculation control. When men masturbate to porn, especially young men, they tend to do so very quickly to avoid being caught. This has the unfortunate side effect of training their bodies to come quickly. This is a hard habit to break when having sex with another person. “While people with ED and premature ejaculation (PE) tend to be in a similar place, mentally, erectile dysfunction is not as clearly connected to porn use as ejaculation control.” 

How does porn affect arousal?

It is important to note that erectile dysfunction rarely has a singular source. General health, like blood flow, age and diseases such as diabetes can all be causes of erectile dysfunction. Behavioral and mental components can also play a role. 

Watching porn can give you a similar rush to seeing someone naked in real life. But in person, there is always the risk that you will be judged or not be able to perform. In porn, there are no expectations and in this relaxed state, it could be easier to become aroused.

Being naked and exposed with someone can be super exciting. However, according to Baldwin, “over time you get used to this and that same breast isn’t as exciting as it was in the beginning. You then need new ways to become aroused and with porn, the newness is always available”. As you get used to newer or more niche visuals online, it can become harder to find the same rush in real life. 

Baldwin explains that difficulty with arousal can lead to anxiety about performing, which can make arousal more difficult and become a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” where you can “get stuck” in a cycle of fear and shame. “If we aren’t in our body, it’s harder to get in the arousal state.”

How do you know if porn is the problem?

To assess is porn is part of the problem, Baldwin recommends asking yourself 3 questions:

  1. Is this only a problem when you are having sex with other people?
  2. When you are masturbating, are you always watching porn?
  3. If you do regularly use porn, what type of porn? Is it always really intense; is it the same type of material? 

By paying attention to what specific situations you are unable to become aroused in, it can help tell you what the problem is, whether it be physical or mental. 

“The frequency is more important,” Baldwin explains. Frequent use can lead to habituation, defined as “the diminishing of a physiological or emotional response to a frequently repeated stimulus”. This means that over time regular porn could have less of an impact. 

So what can you do?

If porn is always a part of your masturbation routine and the type of porn is always the same, consider whether you are conditioning yourself to this specific type of stimuli to achieve arousal. 

As an experienced sex coach, Baldwin recommends to try masturbating without porn and even focusing less on orgasming. “Just get in your body and see how it feels.”

Some groups extol giving up porn and masturbation altogether as a solution for Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction. However, moderation and exploring varied types of porn is a more practical approach that still allows you to experience the health benefits of masturbation.  

If you are struggling with erectile issues and having difficulty breaking the pattern, consider getting personalized guidance and support. Juicebox offers personalized advice from sex counselors that specialize in erectile issues. 

Masturbation (and porn use) is healthy in most cases

Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction is still a controversial idea. In general, there is nothing wrong with masturbation or pornography. In fact, as Baldwin states, “I think masturbation is an extremely healthy practice but you have to consider how you are doing it. It should not interfere with your life.”

 

  1. Rastrelli, G., & Maggi, M. (2017). Erectile dysfunction in fit and healthy young men: psychological or pathological?. Translational andrology and urology6(1), 79-90.
  2. Park, B. Y., Wilson, G., Berger, J., Christman, M., Reina, B., Bishop, F., Klam, W. P., … Doan, A. P. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland)6(3), 17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017

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