Amount of porn men watch linked to difficult erectile function, less satisfaction during sex, finds study

Around 23% of men under 35, who responded to a survey, had some level of erectile dysfunction when having sex with a partner


                            Amount of porn men watch linked to difficult erectile function, less satisfaction during sex, finds study
(Getty images)
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The amount of porn a man watches has been associated with erectile function, according to researchers in a new study. Watching porn is also associated with greater dissatisfaction during sex with a partner, with 35% of respondents rating porn to be more stimulating than having sex with a partner, finds the study. Researchers from Belgium, Denmark and the UK set up an online questionnaire, which was advertised mainly to men in Belgium and Denmark through social media, posters and flyers.

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According to the team, since more and more young men were present with erectile dysfunction, this study was undertaken to see if the amount of porn they were watching had an effect on their erectile function. Researchers found that men watched a lot of porn, on average around 70 minutes per week, normally for between 5 and 15 minutes each time.

The team also found that around 23% of men under 35 years, who responded to the survey, had some level of erectile dysfunction when having sex with a partner. "This figure was higher than we expected. We found that there was a highly significant relationship between time spent watching porn and increasing difficulty with erectile function with a partner, as indicated by the erectile function and sexual health scores. People who watch more porn also scored high on porn addiction scales," says lead researcher, Professor Gunter de Win, University of Antwerp and University Hospital Antwerp, Belgium.

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The analysis is being presented at the 35th European Association of Urology (EAU) virtual Congress. The research team also includes experts from the Hospital of Holstebro, Denmark, and the University College London Hospitals, UK.

"We found that 90% of men fast-forward to watch the most arousing pornographic scenes. There's no doubt that porn conditions the way we view sex. In our survey, only 65% of men felt that sex with a partner was more exciting than watching porn. In addition, 20% 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," says Gunter. 

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The research team found that there was a highly significant relationship between time spent watching porn and increasing difficulty with erectile function with a partner (Getty Images)

For the study, a 118-item questionnaire about male sexual health was created and published online. The link to the anonymous questionnaire was spread through social media, posters, and flyers. According to the report, 3,267 men replied to 118 questions, answering questions about the frequency of masturbation, the frequency and duration of porn watching and sexual activity with partners. The questionnaire concentrated on men who had had sex within the previous four weeks, which allowed the team to relate the effect of porn watching with sexual activity. The questionnaire incorporated questions from standard erectile function and sexual health surveys. 

Of those that responded to the questions, 38.1% were in the 16 to 25 age-group, 29% between 26 and 35 years, 22.5% between 36 and 45 years, and 10.4% were above 45 years. Further, 28.4% of the participants were single, 5.7% were in a new relationship (less than 6 months), 35,4% were in a longstanding relationship (over 6 months), 29.2% were engaged or married and 1.3% were divorced or widowed. 

The analysis shows that the frequency of porn watching was on average 70 minutes per week, with a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 1,575 minutes. About 2.2% watched more than 7 hours per week. A porn-watching session lasted on average below 5 minutes in 7.5% of participants, between 5 to 10 minutes in 28%, between 10 to 15 minutes in 27.7%, between 15 and 30 minutes in 22.8%, 30 min to 1 hour in 10.7% and more than 1 hour in 3.1% of the respondents.

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"We need to keep understanding what this work means and doesn't mean. It is a questionnaire rather than a clinical trial, and it could be that the people who have responded are not completely representative of the whole male population. However, the work was designed to unpick any relationship between porn and erectile dysfunction, and given the large sample size we can be pretty confident about the findings," explains de Win.

The research team next plans to identify which factors lead to erectile dysfunction, and to conduct a similar study on the effects of porn on women. "In the meantime, we believe that doctors dealing with erectile dysfunction should also be asking about watching pornography," suggests de Win. 

According to Professor Maarten Albersen, University of Leuven, Belgium, who was not involved in the study, the running hypothesis is that the type of porn watched may become more explicit over time and partner-sex may not lead to the same level of arousal as the pornographic material does, and this research contributes to an ongoing debate on the topic.

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"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, so this is a controversial area and the last words have not been said on this topic. The sample consisted mainly of younger men recruited via (social) media and posters, which may result in a sample biased towards higher online porn consumption rates. All-in-all, the study raises interesting insights into the fact that porn consumption by men may lead to impaired erectile function and/or sexual satisfaction or confidence during partner-sex," says Albersen.

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Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.