Watching more porn leads to worse erectile dysfunction in men, less enjoyment of ‘real’ sex

ARNHEM, Netherlands — Can a fantasy really affect how people deal with reality? When it comes to pornography, a new study says yes and the news isn’t good for men. Researchers say watching porn is leading to worse cases of erectile dysfunction and greater sexual dissatisfaction when it comes to the real thing.

The survey by the European Association of Urology finds only 65 percent of men say sex with a partner is more stimulating than viewing it on a screen. The group adds 23 percent of men under 35 report having some level of erectile dysfunction.

“This figure was higher than we expected,” Professor Gunter de Win says in a media release. “We found that there was a highly significant relationship between time spent watching porn and increasing difficulty with erectile function with a partner… People who watch more porn also scored high on porn addiction scales.”

Researchers in Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom questioned over 3,200 men after advertising the survey using social media and flyers. The study focuses on men who had sex within the last four weeks. Participants answered 118 questions typically found on standard erectile function and sexual health surveys.

Men are watching a lot of porn

The international survey reveals porn use continues to rise since around 2007. While the amount each man watches varies greatly, the average respondent views over an hour of porn every week.

“In our sample, men watch quite a lot of porn, on average around 70 minutes per week, normally for between 5 and 15 minutes per time, with obviously some watching very little and some watching much, much more,” Prof. de Win details.

The authors caution that the survey may not tell the whole story since it mainly questions younger social media users. Despite that, they remain confident the results still show a link between ED and porn.

Disrupting arousal

Researchers suggest porn may be killing the thrill of real sex for many men suffering problems in the bedroom.

The study finds 90 percent of respondents fast-forward to the most arousing moments of their porn selections. De Win says he has no doubt the pornography that men watch affects the way they view sex.

“Twenty percent felt that they needed to watch more extreme porn to get the same level of arousal as previously. We believe that the erectile dysfunction problems associated with porn stem from this lack of arousal,” the head researcher adds.

Professor Maarten Albersen, who is not part of the research team, says the study reinforces the theory that men who watch “more explicit” scenes can’t match those intense feelings with their actual partners.

“The study contributes to an ongoing debate on the topic; experts have highlighted that porn may have both positive and negative effects, and could for example be used as an aid in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions,” the professor from the University of Leuven says. “So this is a controversial area and the last words have not been said on this topic.”

Redesigning the doctor’s visit

Prof. de Win says the next step in the research is to study porn’s effects on women. Researchers are also continuing to discover the exact factors that cause erectile dysfunction.

In the meantime, the study recommends doctors add more questions about porn consumption into their exams when treating patients battling erectile problems.

The findings are being presented during the 35th European Association of Urology conference this month.

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