Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction: How To Overcome It

If you think you might have porn-induced erectile dysfunction, you’re not alone.

If you feel depressed because you’re pretending to be interested in dating or not fully enjoying your marriage, you’re not alone.

And if you would rather not talk or think about it, you’re not alone.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). It also affects about 12 percent of men younger than 60, 22 percent of men age 60 to 69, and 30 percent of men age 70 or older.

These numbers suggest a silent crisis among American men.

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Common causes of erectile dysfunction

A Johns Hopkins study attributes erectile dysfunction to health-related problems like cardiovascular risk factors and a history of cardiovascular diseases. They also attribute it to hypertension, diabetes, and lack of physical activity.

Meanwhile, UWHealth, a website that focuses on urology health, has listed the following extensive psychological and physical reasons:

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A rise in porn

So far, I have merely summarized conventional medical knowledge about ED. However, a study in Italy explains something that has puzzled the medical profession for a long time—why otherwise-healthy young men also experience sexual problems.

“A survey of 28,000 users found that many Italian males started an “excessive consumption” of porn sites as early as 14 and after daily use in their early to mid-20s became inured to “even the most violent” images, said Carlo Foresta, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS).”

Excessive use of masturbating over pornographic material may in fact be an explanation for the epidemic levels of low testosterone and its associated symptoms. A rise in porn seems to have a direct correlation to a rise in erectile dysfunction in young men.

Is porn an addiction?

Although many think of porn as an addiction, it often does not meet the criteria of an addiction as outlined by the American Psychiatric Association. This is true if it’s not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Nicole Prause, who heads the brain research company Liberos and who used to be researcher at the University of California Los Angeles, explains why it can’t be considered an addiction like drug and alcohol.

porn-ED“In the case of porn addictions, the brain looks similar to other addictions but only up to a point, and then it diverges. When you look at porn, you get increases in learning and reward… but you don’t see some of the other hallmarks of addiction.”

“In other addictions such as gambling, when you see a cue, for people who have a problem, the brain is more responsive. In the case of porn, with people who say they have problems, their responsiveness is decreased.”

Basically, porn does not have the same physical brain response as other forms of addiction.

Despite this clinical point-of-view, people who watch porn can’t seem to control their fascination with it.

Actor Terry Crews recounted, “Pornography really messed up my life in a lot of ways. If day turns into nights, and you are still watching, you’ve probably got a problem. And that was me.”

In an interview with BBC Trending, Tom (a pseudonym), a US Midwest teacher, said that he started watching porn at a young age, and it affected his interest in sex when he got married.

“You’ve probably heard a saying that porn is great but it doesn’t compare to the real thing,” he said. “When you’re addicted to porn, you’ll feel the opposite. Sex is great, but it doesn’t compare to porn….I had trouble getting aroused with my wife, just because it wasn’t enough anymore.”

What happens?

What are some of the possible reasons why excessive masturbation from porn can dampen sexual ardor?

1. Insufficient real life sexual arousal

Pornography makes money because of its intense ability to arouse—in an almost fantastical way. Due to this overly high arousal factor of pornography, it can be difficult for a man to be aroused by a real life partner. Even if the man feels aroused by his partner, he may find himself struggling to get an erection and experience an orgasm. In turn, the partner feels rejected and less attractive. This can create an unhappy cycle, pushing men to further turn to pornography for arousal.

2. Issues of low self-esteem

Porn affects men’s self-esteem and expectations. Porn can create an unrealistic perspective about what a man believes he and his partner should look like. What’s more, men often compare themselves to the porn male actors. They feel inferior because they can’t arouse a woman as much or perform sexually as well than the male actors in the films. It becomes psychologically impossible to separate the fantasy from the reality.

3. Reality appears boring

 Porn allows men to choose and watch any fantasy that turns them on—fantasies that they may even find too embarrassing to share with their real-life partners. This can become a secretive release that starts to separate the couple’s bond and trust, further leading to sexual troubles.

4. Reality offers less visual and auditory stimulation

Sex films often have numerous graphic scenes, and they switching quickly between scenes. This creates a heightened sense of excitement. In real life intimacy, everything is much slower. While there is an increase in tactile stimulation, it’s impossible to experience as much visual and auditory stimulation. This can create a mental correlation of arousal by watching sex as opposed to having sex.

Does abstinence work?

While it is not certain whether or not porn is an addiction, it certainly has a compulsive quality that detracts from sexual arousal with a real life partner. Is porn-induced ED real, then? Even if it is not clinically diagnosable, it is still a problem for many men. The aforementioned Italian study suggests that a strong link between watching sex films, excessive masturbation, and sexual anorexia.

porn-induced-erectile-dysfunction One solution that appears to be helping men overcome porn-induced erectile dysfunction is abstinence from porn and masturbation for a period of 90 days or more. During this time, the brain appears to switch from getting aroused by 2-dimensional visual-auditory cues to adjusting to 3-dimensional sensual cues. It gives the mind and body time to reboot and reset to normal sexual cues. This method can help restore robust real-life sensuality.

Withdrawal from porn can be intense at first. Men lose all sense of libido, often referred to as flat lining, but then a slow recovery initiates. After a few months, not only do people recover normal sexual arousal, but also they feel better overall with less depression, anxiety, and general fatigue.

Below are some first person accounts of this “porn-induced ED”:

Nick: After a few days of brain tantrums (cravings), I went into a flatline for weeks. Basically I felt totally indifferent about girls, sex, everything. A little voice from the porn beast nagged at me in the back of my mind, but mostly, I just didn’t care. And my penis was very lifeless and small. It was like somebody just pulled the plug on whatever machine provides my sex drive. No libido at all.

Aaron: Even at age 22, I’ve noticed the ‘dead penis’ syndrome whenever I try to quit porn or masturbation. After about 4-5 days my libido is absolutely shot and my penis shrivels up to nothing. It’s terrifying actually.

One participant reported the following improvement in the moods:

Rob: I would go through 56 days of no porn or masturbation and, then, after I masturbated, I would feel off: empty, anxious, numbed out. But guess what? After these 6 months of no porn I can finally say I don’t have to worry about mild depression anymore. A little brain fog is my only symptom now.

Another reported the following improvement in the return of sexual satisfaction when having real sex after following an abstinence “cure”:

Ahmed: Yesterday we were on the couch watching a movie, and she started kissing me. I was hard, and I knew it was a different erection, an old erection, a healthy, awake one, and guess what? We made love, without any ED, without any fantasies, and it felt like she was a new person I was discovering. Even I felt like a new person. Sex was not foggy anymore, and even after orgasm I didn’t feel any sadness, just plain healthy satisfaction.

These testimonies, as well as hundreds of others, show that porn and masturbation abstinence can help end porn-induced erectile dysfunction to revitalize sexual vigor.

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5 stages of recovery

The recovery process from varies from one person to another, and it is far from linear. However, below is a general outline of the average stages that occur when men abstain from porn and masturbation. While 90 days is an average time, recovery may take more or less time.

Stage 1: A person experiences symptoms of withdrawal and intense cravings for pornographic stimulation.

Stage 2: After one or two weeks of abstinence, there is a slight increase in libido and positive feelings of well-being.

Stage 3: There is a complete loss of interest in sex, libido declines, and there are no more erections, even in the morning upon waking up.

Stage 4: There is a return of morning erections, some return of libido, and a returning interest in sex. These are followed by days where there are no erections or interest.

Stage 5: There are now clear signs of recovery. There is a return of erections, an interest in sex with a partner, and an experience of pleasurable sex.

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It is important to understand these stages before entering into an abstinence cure. Remind yourself that these withdrawal symptoms and intensely low libido will not last. You will go through various stages and struggles, but it will help you overcome porn-induced erectile dysfunction and result in an improved sexual life overall. Over time, participants also experience distinct signs of progressive improvement in feelings of well being and self-esteem as well.

How long does it take to reboot?

The rate of recovery from porn-induced erectile dysfunction appears to vary a great deal.

Those who recover within a matter of weeks seem to share one characteristic in common: they have not developed a long-term fascination for porn. Usually these are older men, who only got exposed to porn later on in life. Other men could take from 3 to 6 months to regain healthy erections. Some young men who started porn at an early age took as long as 9 months.

It is interesting to note that today’s young men now have easier access to porn (due to the Internet), and often it takes these adolescents longer to recover. Relapse is often more common because of such high accessibility.

Factors affecting recovery may include:

  • The consistency of abstinence influences
  • The age one began watching porn
  • How frequently a man masturbated with porn
  • The length of time one has been using porn (For many men, years of porn use made the recovery process much longer.)
  • The type of masturbation used
  • The type of porn used to get aroused (The more unusual, the harder it was to get accustomed to regular sex. The brain took longer time to adapt to less provocative stimulation.)

Working in tandem with a romantic partner often sped up the rewiring process, making it easier to get aroused by a real human being. Those men who were open and honest about their struggles with their partners often saw greater results.

Success rate

This doesn’t always work for everyone. There are two instances when abstinence fails.

The most common one is when the urge to view porn or masturbate is so strong that a person reverts to their old behavior. This relapse is common for men with access to porn on a daily basis. This is another reason why verbalizing the addiction and need for recovery to a partner or spouse is essential.

Abstinence will also not work if the ED is related to other health issues. You should always consult your doctor to get checked for any underlying sexual problems.

Recovering from porn-induced ED

If you believe that your ED may be due to porn-induced erectile dysfunction, the best way to resume a normal sexual relationship after a period of abstinence is to reduce anxiety.

Don’t be concerned about having an erection. Instead, focus on developing sensitivity to touch, kissing, and intimacy. Sensual touch creates a surge in oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, and gradually reduces inhibition about having sex. Use these sensual touches to work through the five stages of abstinence withdrawal.

Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is not an easy topic to discuss. It is not easy to identify. It is not easy to admit. But there is a solution. Contact me for more information and a non-judgmental conversation.

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