Can porn really cause erectile dysfunction?

Yes. In fact, the amount of men seeking help for ED has risen at an alarming rate over the last few years. Studies have shown that between 1948 and 2002 rates of ED amongst men under 40 were consistently 2-3%. Fast forward to 2010 and six studies showed a rate of 14-33% in men under 40 - an almost 1000% increase.

In their collation of studies over the last two decades into ED, Park et al discovered that:

... research using a variety of assessment instruments has revealed further evidence of an unprecedented increase in sexual difficulties among young men. In 2012, Swiss researchers found ED rates of 30% in a cross-section of Swiss men aged 18–24 using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5). A 2013 Italian study reported one in four patients seeking help for new onset ED were younger than 40, with rates of severe ED nearly 10% higher than in men over 40. A 2014 study on Canadian adolescents reported that 53.5% of males aged 16–21 had symptoms indicative of a sexual problem. Erectile dysfunction was the most common (26%), followed by low sexual desire (24%), and problems with orgasm (11%).” (Park)

So, is this rise in ED amongst men and younger men in particular, related to porn use? Gary Wilson of Your Brain on Porn and many other researchers and administrators of support groups and forums for men experiencing issues with porn addiction symptoms believe so.

Check out our porn withdrawal guide.

Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is prevalent among men

The rise in younger men especially (under 40) who are suffering with low libido and ED doesn’t appear to correlate to an increase in other issues which may affect ED such as smoking, substance abuse and poor physical health. While certain issues such as anxiety and depression are generally on the increase amongst men, it appears that for the most part anxiety and depression lead to ED rather than the other way round. For researchers such as Wilson and others, it appears that the major variable that has changed in the last two decades when it comes to men and sexuality is the availability of high-speed internet porn on demand (Wilson G. , 2004, p. P43).

Added to studies which are beginning to show clear links to porn addiction and ED, are the numerous accounts of men in forums such as NoFap, Rebootnation and Your Brain on Porn who report that their ED resolved itself after rebooting. Their anecdotal accounts also provide evidence that porn has the potential to seriously undermine sexual function for men.

Porn induced Erectile dysfunction (or “PIED”) can be a combination of many factors that relate to masturbation practices using porn. Desensitization and overstimulation of reward-circuitry can adjust your ability to become aroused by anything other than porn. You might also have participated in traumatic masturbatory practices that real sex can’t mimic. As an article by a psychosexual therapist reports –

“The problem is that dopamine – the hormone released that enables that pleasurable state – is part of the reward circuit in the brain and it can become desensitized to triggers. We might see one image one day that excites us and return to it again and again, only then we find that it doesn’t excite us anymore. I’ve seen many clients, who despite consciously not wanting to use porn, find themselves returning to porn sites over and over again compulsively.” (Eccles)

While further studies are needed to provide more detail and help to shift focus onto education, prevention and treatment, it’s apparent that PIED is a real issue for increasing numbers of men who use porn. If you are still unsure about whether your ED might have been caused by porn use, then it’s wise to self-test and see what your results are, following the simple method from Gabe Deem of Rebootnation.

Test for porn-induced erectile dysfunction - “PIED”

One of the first ways you might notice that you are having porn-induced erectile dysfunction issues is if you can’t get or maintain an erection when having real sex with a partner. Or, you might have noticed that you only ever masturbate to porn or porn-related fantasies. If this is the case then taking this simple test can help you to figure out if PIED has become an issue for you.

Step 1

Check if you can get an erection using porn – or preferably remembering the last time you used porn. This can be helpful to rule out ‘organic’ issues – such as poor physical health or alcohol issues for example.

Step 2

Try masturbating without porn or porn fantasies, using only sensation and touch. Can you get an erection, maintain it and climax satisfactorily without using porn or porn-related fantasies?

Step 3

Compare the two experiences and self-evaluate to see if there was a difference in the quality of your erection and experience with porn and without it. The reason why it’s advisable to do this test while masturbating on your own is because you can also rule out performance anxiety or relationship issues as a source of ED when with a partner. (Deem, Did porn cause my erectile dysfunction? Take the test.)

If you find that you can’t get an erection in either of the first two steps then please see a physician so you can get checked out for organic issues that might be impacting you.

If you take the test and discover that the only way you can get and maintain a satisfactory erection is by using or imagining porn then the signs point to PIED. If this happens to you, then please remember that many other men have also gone through this and have successfully rebooted and found that their PIED issues have resolved themselves.

How to overcome porn addiction and recover from PIED

The thing is, you are suffering from porn-induced erectile dysfunction simply because you watch too much porn. That is usually the case, or otherwise, if you have an underlying medical issue, then you have to go see a doctor.

PIED happens, and it happens a lot. You might actually think that you're a normal man who watches porn a lot, but not until you experience PIED and realize that its a real problem.

A thought to begin with this section about how to overcome porn addiction and recover from PIED: with the prevalence of the Internet, men's brains are just not prepared for the humongous amount of desirable women in their "access" today- albeit they may just be pixels on a screen and are basically not "real".

When you watch porn, a part of your brain thinks that the super-attractive women that you see on your screen are real and are ready to get in the action with you.

Now that would really make you feel mega-excited- at least at first. Then you pleasure yourself and achieve an orgasm so wonderful that you do it again and again. For hundreds, or even thousands of times, you watch these super-hot women in porn who are virtually always "ready" to have sex with you.

Now the time comes when you have sex with your girlfriend or wife, or whom you may deem to be a regular woman who seems "boring", and a part of your brain thinks that: "Darn, this isn't as exciting as the foursome I had yesterday" - when in fact it was merely the porn you watched on your computer screen! Until that part of your brain again thinks "This isn't just worth it", and doesn't command your penis to stand erect.

Due to Internet pornography, you might be having too much porn in your life, and this predominantly causes your PIED. Suffice it to say then that you can recover from porn induced erectile dysfunction ed if you quit watching porn.

You're saying you want to stop watching porn but have a difficult time doing it, or just simply can't? Then primarily, you might be suffering from porn addiction.

First off, don't think that addiction means that you are absolutely ruled or ruined by it. Just think of it as something that you want to quit doing, but cannot, or don't know how to, and you need help.

The main interest of this article is therefore to help you quit your excessive use of pornography with the aim of helping you recover from PIED. When you successfully stop your pornography viewing, it will almost seem that your natural erection would be "magically" restored and experience your desire back for real women.

How long will it take to recover from porn-induced erectile dysfunction?

Chances are, you might get worried about overcoming porn addiction and getting your erection back if you think that it will happen instantaneously. For the most part, it's not likely to happen in two or three weeks.

As a matter of fact (and you need patience for it), you may have to wait for a few months until the circuitry of your brain goes through a rewiring and becomes amenable to natural stimuli triggered by real women. That's how it normally goes, and you thus need to implement an effective strategy.

A man, although young and healthy can suffer from erectile dysfunction ed due to porn addiction. Or else, if he suspects that it is, on the other hand, another medical issue, then he should consult a doctor.

If you don't have erectile dysfunction at the moment, but keep on masturbating while watching Internet pornography, then keep in mind that you can get it. You might be thinking that pornography use is so prevalent that you predominantly cannot stop it as a secret addiction.

How affirmations can help to recover from PIED

Below are tips for a helpful strategy for young men, as well as mature men, to help overcome porn addiction and recover from related sexual dysfunctions during partnered sex:

Establish a goal as to why you intend to stop watching too much pornography. Your intention must be defined in a positive reality, beginning with "I want to..". Don't state it in a negative reality, such as "I don't want to..". Be definite about your real intention, and examples are:

  • "I want to experience healthy sexual arousal and be satisfied with real life sex."
  • "I want to experience pleasurable real life sexual activity and maintain an erection when having sexual intercourse with women."
  • "I want to quit viewing pornography because I want to get an erection naturally during my sexual encounters."
  • "I want to stop my pornography viewing addiction because I want to become aroused and achieve an erection naturally."
  • "I want to quit watching porn because I want have a great sex life by having positive sexual health."
  • "I want to stop watching too much porn- but I can enjoy watching it once in a while."

So you start to overcome your porn addiction with the initial step of affirming your decision or intention. It is crucial, and you need to be honest and resolute to get it right. Consider that this first step is the most important one because it defines everything that you want to work for.

Skip being wishy-washy about it, but rather be firm in making your decision, such as by starting with "I hope to...", or "it would be nice if..". Begin with a relaxed feeling when stating your intention so that you look forward to claiming it.

Why make your intention firm?

If you are clear and resolute about your intention that "I want to have healthy and strong erections during my sexual performance", you will be motivated to do anything to achieve it. It can make the endeavour easier, too. But if, on the way, it gets tough, hold on, and remember to be all-in.

If you are clear and resolute about your intention to "enjoy having sex with my girlfriend or wife", then you would mostly be decided to get rid of all the porn materials in your keeping and focus on appreciating the woman you are with.

If, for whatever reason, you have a clear and resolute intention to "watch porn and keep masturbating casually", then you would know how to set your limits. You can start by skipping your pornography consumption by one day every week, and when you get comfortable, you can proceed to curtail your porn watching by 3 days per week. If you've gotten a hold of your habit, you can be amiable to watching porn only one day a week.

Taking into account your firm intentions, you will be able to implement the most appropriate strategy. It's different strokes, different approaches, for different intentions.

You must have subconsciously good intentions that you inherently carry within you, not just only about overcoming porn addiction, but about your life goals as well. It can make things easier for you, but you have to muster it through affirmation. That is, from your subsconscious good intention, you have to consciously decide and do something about it.

Not that you have to plan for it excessively, but be utterly and calmly decisive about it, and you'll have more chances of success. You can write it down on paper, and commence with your approach right away. You can edit later.

Specifically decide that you are going to quit watching porn.

That is, be particular about your limits, and what you are going to cross. What if you cross those boundaries? Then you have to restart with your endeavour and just keep going. Along every step of the way, be aware.

Know where your limits start and end. If the lines are blurry, then you'll have a disorderly and ineffective porn addiction recovery strategy. When you simply say "I won't look at porn", it's practically weak of a resolve because you can resort to opening Instagram and see sexy models in there. That is a form of porn, by the way, and anyway.

However, some specific decisions you can make that can result to a clean-cut resolve and motivation are:

  • "I will not actively look for porn in any way."
  • "I will not deliberately look for whatever form of sexual stimuli, including models on Instagram or Snapchat, or forums that contain sexy threads."
  • "I will not masturbate, even when I am not watching porn, for 30 days."
  • "I will (or will not) have sex with my girlfriend or wife for 30 days."

These are a few examples. What's important is that your list of rules are specific so that you'll know what to adhere to, and do. Quitting a strong addiction is very tricky, so your 30-day challenge might become a 90-day challenge. Remember to be easy on yourself and be relaxed when healing yourself.

Change your habits- find a better alternative that'll revert your responses. Porn addiction is a PMO habit that is actually a hundred times more intense than a regular habit. So when you decide to stop watching pornography, you cannot basically just lose it. What works is that you understand the cycle of your habit and alter it by doing something else that would take you away from it. What you do is swap old habits for new and better ones.

Initially, if your habit goes this way: You see a hot girl ---> you watch porn (habit)---> orgasm (reward), you can alter that, primarily by creating a new habit that'll offset what you are used to doing.

For instance, you can revert to a new habit, such as: You see a hot girl---> you take a shower, meditate, or exercise (new routine)---> date your wife/girlfriend or hang out with your friends (reward).

Rather than fapping to porn after seeing a hot girl in the gym, why not start a band or join daily meet-ups. Take time to improve your social skills. That way, you'll feel a sense of belonging with other people. The constant flow of acceptance and appreciation given to your direction can make you feel fulfilled and emotionally secure. You'll start loving yourself, and you know what that means. Having healthy self-esteem isn't likely to result to doing something destructive to yourself.

Make the challenge easier- don't leave it to willpower

It's virtually a big, big mistake to leave your porn addiction recovery to willpower. The real secret to breaking a habit successfully is to make it easy. There are 3 stages of changing a habit, and they are:

  • the early game
  • the middle game
  • the end game

This strategy to overcoming pornography addiction is meant to make it easy for you.

The early game is when you engage in educating yourself and formulating a plan to address your issue.

The middle game stage is when you implement big changes in a short period of time. At this point, you will be utilizing your willpower in an intelligent way. Those quick bursts of your willpower energy you can use to pave the way for a smooth and easy drive towards achieving your goals. Now those bursts of willpower energy can only last for a few days, so make use of it proactively. It can be very refreshing.

The first thing you should do is to note down 10 to 20 actions that will make changing your habits easier. A deadline should be set for the execution of these actions, and it can be no more than 3 days.

As examples, these actions can include:

"I am noting down the rewards of overcoming PMO addiction. What are the 50 fantastic reasons to quit viewing porn? I would like to enjoy having sex with my girlfriend/wife and maintain an erection that would boost my sexual performance."

"I will join the nofap forum without spending too much time on it. It distracts me if I read posts and comments from people having lots of problems. What I would rather do is obtain support, make peace with my past, and focus on my present and future."

These are meant to be a guide on how to make your porn induced ED easier. Once you have establised your intentions and rules, the end game of implementation will not be so tricky.

There are benefits to masturbation, but steer clear of addiction

There are benefits of masturbation to mental health and self-esteem, and they can be positive. However, make sure that you do it healthily and not excessively. On the flipside there is also benefits to quiting porn. PMO addiction, being an addiction can be hard to break, and it can hamper your social life if you succumb to it. An addiction generally is a bondage, that's why you shouldn't let your PMO addiction cause you to retreat in your own world of illusion, develop porn induced erectile dysfunction, and eventually lose touch with reality.

You can recover from porn induced ed and live a healthy life of freedom, appreciating the pleasures of real life when you break your porn addiction.