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The Surprising Link Between Porn and Sexual Performance

by
author image Leah Groth
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Chicago. She has covered topics such as entertainment, health & wellness for such publications and websites as xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.
The Surprising Link Between Porn and Sexual Performance
Could your porn addiction be ruining your sex life? Photo Credit dmitrimaruta/Adobe Stock

It might go without saying that someone who prefers to watch porn to IRL sexual encounters is dealing with some issues. But recent medical findings indicate those issues may extend beyond the emotional into the physical. In fact, it found a surprising link between pornography and sexual dysfunction — but the correlation only relates to males.

Read more: 13 Exercises Every Man Should Do to Improve His Sex Life

According to a new survey presented at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, men who were considered addicted to porn were less likely to enjoy sex with a consenting adult and more prone to suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Researchers surveyed 312 men at a urology clinic in San Diego between the ages of 20 to 40 and found that 3.4 percent preferred masturbating to porn over having sex. Dr. Matthew Christman, lead researcher and staff urologist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, reports that his team found an actual statistical relationship between porn addiction and sexual problems.

Why does this matter? A 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which looked at data from 439 men who visited an outpatient clinic for erectile dysfunction, determined that one in four of those men was actually under the age of 40. What’s more, half of those young men had severe cases of ED.

“The rates of organic causes of erectile dysfunction in this age cohort [20 to 40] are extremely low, so the increase in erectile dysfunction that we have seen over time for this group needs to be explained,” Christman notes. Although the doctor and his team believe “that pornography use may be one piece to that puzzle,” he says that their data do not suggest that porn addiction is the only explanation for the increase.

Factors like drugs and alcohol, smoking, obesity and health issues like diabetes and heart disease can contribute to ED. Stress and anxiety can also be a component; recent research supports the theory that young people are suffering from stress and anxiety more than ever.

So what does this mean for women, besides the fact that ED affects both people involved? Apparently, porn doesn’t have the same impact on women as it does on men. The researchers surveyed a group of women in the same age range and found no correlation between porn use and female sexual dysfunction.

But it’s important to note that this study isn’t claiming that watching porn will negatively impact sexual performance — in fact, it can have a positive impact on your sex life if used in moderation.

Dr. Joseph Alukal, director of reproductive health at New York University, claims that visual stimulation will often increase sexual arousal in both men and women. But he warns that “when the majority of their time is spent viewing and masturbating to pornography, it is likely they will become less interested in real-world sexual encounters.”

So if you’re having trouble performing, know that the problem could be psychological. “Sex is half in your body and half in your head, and it may not be a physical component driving the behavior, but a psychological one,” explains Alukal. “For this reason, it’s important for physicians to understand the underlying issues leading to the sexual dysfunction prior to suggesting treatment options.”

He also notes that one of the reasons porn likely leads to impotence in younger, less experienced men is because it can set the tone for unrealistic expectations. Let’s face it: The majority of us don’t look or perform like porn stars.

Read more: Meet the Women Who Are Changing Health and Wellness

“They believe they’re supposed to be able to do what goes on in these movies, and when they can’t it causes a great deal of anxiety,” Alukal tells The Chicago Tribune. Both Christman and Alukal urge men to seek help who fear that their porn habits may be causing their partner disappointment.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you think pornography has a negative impact on sexual performance? Is pornography OK in moderation? Are you surprised researchers found no link between pornography and sexual dysfunction in women?

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