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Does watching porn affect your performance in bed?

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Pornography, it’s why google and other search engines have safesearch. It’s all around us and if sales are any indication, it is not going away. There have been lots of claims regarding it, but does a predilection for porn mean bad news in bed? That’s the conclusion of many clinicians and the upshot of anecdotal reports claiming a man’s habit of viewing sex films can lead to problems getting or sustaining an erection, but what does science say?

A new study — the first to actually test the relationship between how much erotica men are watching and erectile function — shows that viewing sexual films is unlikely to cause erectile problems and in a strange reversal to common thought, may even help sexual arousal.

The study analyzed data, collected from 280 male volunteers during previous studies in the teams lab, for the effect watching erotica has on sexual arousal. All the men reported the average number of hours per week that they had viewed sex films — which ranged from zero to 25 hours — and also completed a questionnaire that measures levels of sexual desire.

Of the 280 volunteers, 127 of them had regular partners and completed the International Index of Erectile Function, a questionnaire that requires men to rate their experience with erectile function.

The study went further, participants also viewed films in the lab, showing a man and woman having consensual vaginal intercourse, and then reported their level of sexual arousal.

“When we analyzed the data from these prior studies, we found that the men who had watched more sex films at home were more aroused when they watched sex films in the lab,” says Nicole Prause, an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry.

“While one could object that this was expected since they like sex films, the result is important because clinicians often claim that men get desensitized by watching these films,” she continued.

“They are responding more strongly to very vanilla erotica than the guys for whom the films are more novel. While this association doesn’t establish a cause, it proves viewing erotica at home is not desensitizing and perhaps even sensitized the men to respond more strongly.”

The team also found that there is no relationship between viewing sex films and the incidence of erectile dysfunction in men who are sexually active.

“Many clinicians claim that watching erotica makes men unable to respond sexually to ‘normal’ sexual situations with a partner,” Prause says.

“That was not the case in our sample.”

This is important to note, because it affects people who suffer from erectile problems. Not just how they are treated professionally, but even how they are viewed by society.

“While many people think easy access to porn leads to problems in the bedroom, our study suggests the opposite: that erectile dysfunction is most likely caused by the same issues that have been known for some time, such as performance anxiety, poor cardiovascular health, or side-effects from substance abuse,” says Jim Pfaus, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology and Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology.

“We have strong psychotherapy and medical interventions to help with erectile problems. These data suggest that inventing a new problem — porn causing erectile problems — for which there is no tested treatment, may be a disservice to patients,” Prause says.

A larger issue concerns recent assertions that watching porn causes addiction and ruins relationships. The new data from this research disputes those claims.

“The study participants represent a good cross-section of men that view porn on a regular basis. The fact that doing so increased their arousal to the erotic stimuli should cause clinicians and sex therapists to rethink their attributions.”Pfaus says

 “We have strong psychotherapy and medical interventions to help with erectile problems. These data suggest that inventing a new problem — porn causing erectile problems — for which there is no tested treatment, may be a disservice to patients,” offers Prause.

Importantly, the authors have no conflicts of interest. This means they have no reason moral or financial to skew or change the results, intentionally or otherwise. This is good for the research itself because the original claims that are refuted by this study, comes from groups that do have conflicts of interest. This could, and may very well be, the reason these claims were even made at all.

Sources:
Prause N. (2015). Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction, Sexual Medicine, n/a-n/a. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sm2.58

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2 responses

  1. chirsttyy

    The reader should be aware of the facts concerning this “study”,
    1) This was not a study on men with ED.
    2) This was not a study on men with problematic porn use.
    3) This was not a study at all. Rather the authors claimed to have snagged data from four of Prause’s earlier studies – none of which were about …

    Moderator edited for brevity.

    All this and more is documented in this critique – shameless plug that was removed, but easily googled given the copy and paste comment.

    March 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    • First and foremost is the depressing realization (although I figured this was coming) that your copy and paste comes from a bias source. This is ironic since you are sending up these “red flags” about this study without any acknowledgment to the fact that this copy/paste was from an anti-porn/ porn addict help site. This alone would make me roll my eyes and delete the comment since it isn’t worth the time. However, since you were assuming that this critique was bullet proof enough to share in a different setting, then I will indulge you a little and shoot down at least the first three (if you want more, you’ll have to do it yourself, trust me it’s easy and I really don’t want to waste more of my time).

      This study was not about men who suffer from ED, this study was not about men who have “problematic porn use,” and given the fact that the study does not claim these things, why would it need to clearly state that it is not? When I talk about an apple, I do not need to state that an apple is not an orange, it is not a grapefruit, it is not a banana.

      The main purpose was to show that for regular porn viewers — IE- people who do not claim porn addiction, which should really be defined as it is, a compulsion to watch porn that is so strong it starts to affect day to day life in a negative way. NOT as someone who regularly watches porn — there is no link to erectile disfunction. How the hell would you prove that if you are working with people who already have ED? That’s like saying heart disease higher in people who eat meat, while only looking at people who have heart disease.

      The critique ends by saying something along the lines of you deserve better (see I read, unlike whoever wrote that who didn’t actually bother to read the study). I agree you do deserve better, but you’re not going to get it from a critique like that.

      March 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm

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