It’s the conclusion that many articles, websites, and recent conversations have come to: When young men deal with ED, pornography is sometimes the culprit.
As a medical clinic, the question we ask is always the same: What do the facts say? Does science have the answer to the question “Can porn really cause erectile dysfunction?”
Let’s find out.
How Much Do We Really Know About Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men?
It’s true that erectile dysfunction is an issue for younger men. A 2013 study found that about 1 in 4 men experiencing ED are under the age of 40.
Is this number an increase? Unfortunately, little data from previous generations exists to make a true comparison.
Some earlier takes on this subject (such as a Kinsey study in 1948) suggest that ED used to be less common in young men, but these studies are rare and use methods which differ greatly from those we use today, making it hard to conclude one way or the other.
While we do not know the extent of an “increase” in instances of ED, recent data shows that it is a prevalent issue for young men today. But could porn be the reason? Can porn really cause erectile dysfunction?
How Does Pornography Affect the Brain?
Studies have found that the reward centres of the brain respond actively to pornography. Individuals whose reward centres are particularly triggered by these images respond to pornography the same way a drug addict’s brain would respond to a substance.
Some believe that frequent exposure to pornography trains the reward centres in the brain to respond only to increasingly graphic images which do not mimic real-life sexuality, making it difficult to become excited during intimate encounters.
Not so fast, neurologist Dr. Simone Kühn notes in a 2013 Telegraph article about her study on the subject. At this point in the research “It’s not clear whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.”
More recent studies show that healthy young men with a porn addiction experience less ED while using porn than during sex with a partner. See this 2021 study A web-based survey of men with “problematic” pornography consumption concluded that “prevalence of ED in young men is alarmingly high, and the results of this study suggest a significant association with problematic pornography consumption.”
What Are Some Reasons For Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men?
While the consumption of pornography has increased since the advent of the internet, other changes have also taken place in the last quarter century which could also affect male sexual health.
Young people have seen a rise in instances of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems associated with ED. Stress has also increased among young people, and attention spans are growing shorter. For young men experiencing erectile difficulties, these risk factors should all be considered by a doctor.
What Can Young Men Do To Treat ED?
Yes, the brain can be impacted by pornography. And yes, the brain is one of many factors considered when treating erectile dysfunction. But there is no conclusive evidence linking the two. While it may be worth considering for some individuals with certain brain types, every man is different. Potential causes for erectile dysfunction in young men vary greatly.
Before running to a doctor for a quick-fix prescription or trying to self-diagnose the reasons for your ED, see a men’s health specialist for an evaluation. Doctors who specifically treat erectile dysfunction are experts in physiological and psychological risk factors and will take your whole health into consideration when creating a treatment plan.
If you live close to Toronto and the GTA, FullMast Clinics are a great resource for any man dealing with ED. To get started, contact us online or call 1-844-500-1177.