SEX STUFF

Is Porn a Problem?

Posted by Joshua Gonzalez on

Is Porn a Problem?

Whether you’re a fan of internet pornography (IP) or not, you’re probably aware of the general consensus that porn is bad. In fact, even the most prolific connoisseurs of IP do so with some notion that what they’re doing is unhealthy, much like overeating or binge drinking. To go a step further, many men who experience some degree of sexual dysfunction might even blame their IP habits for their problems. And because they’re experiencing negative side effects but keep consuming porn, they may go as far as to assume that they have a pornography addiction. 

In September of 2021, a fascinating study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine that explored the possible links between IP and sexual dysfunction. The authors, Georgina Whelan and Jac Brown, specifically wanted to know if there was an association between IP use, perceived IP addiction, erectile dysfunction (ED), premature or early ejaculation (EE), and/or sexual satisfaction (SS) in males aged 18 to 44 years old. What they found challenged some long-held beliefs about internet pornography’s risks to sexual health and highlighted the difference between what’s real and what’s perceived.  


Real vs. Perceived

This may come as a shock to you, but there is generally a lack of consensus in the scientific community around what constitutes a porn addiction. The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the be-all and end-all of mental disorders for many mental health professionals in the United States. What does the DSM-5 say about addiction to pornography? Not a lot. In fact, porn addiction is not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-5 because there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that it is, in fact, a real mental disorder.

It turns out that most instances of “porn addiction” are not based on any empirical evidence. Instead, they are mostly self-reported from the pornography consumers themselves. Furthermore, when you look at the scientific literature, the majority of claims that IP addiction causes sexual dysfunction also comes from self-perceived IP addicts, case studies or qualitative data. When rigorous scientific methods were used, the data was inconclusive. 

But what about Kanye West, Charlie Sheen and Terry Crews? They’ve all been public about their porn addictions. Hell, John Mayer once told Playboy that “There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.” If porn is affecting your life in a negative way, then there may be a problem. However, if you’re starting to blame your problems on porn, then it might be wise to take a step back and to view your issues through a scientific lens. Let’s take a closer look at what researchers found when they did just that. 


The Science-y Stuff

As we mentioned earlier, the authors of the study in question had three goals. Through their research, they wanted to see if there was an association between IP and erectile dysfunction (ED), premature or early ejaculation (EE), and sexual satisfaction (SS). They also wanted to see if there was an association between self-perceived IP addiction and ED, EE and SS. And lastly, they wanted to see whether IP use or self-perceived IP addiction predicted ED, EE and/or SS in men ages 18 to 44. 

I know we’re getting a little science-y here, but stick with me because the results were somewhat surprising. Out of the 942 men studied, the researchers found that there was no evidence of an association between consuming IP and experiencing ED, EE or lack of SS. They did, however, find that men who perceived that they had a porn addiction did have a moderately positive correlation with and a uniquely predicted increase in ED, EE and sexual dissatisfaction. 

In layman’s terms, the results show that according to this particular study, there is no scientific evidence that consuming internet porn causes sexual dysfunction. But, if you think that you have a porn addiction, then you are more likely to experience certain types of sexual dysfunction and negative sexual outcomes, including erectile dysfunction, early ejaculation and sexual dissatisfaction.


So Porn is OK?

What does that mean for the average Joe and his favorite porn site? It means that Joe may want to give himself a break. Among young men, there’s a big misconception that consuming internet porn causes sexual dysfunction. However, the research so far doesn’t support that conclusion. We also don’t know why self-perceived IP addiction is tied to sexual dysfunction, but it’s useful for health practitioners to take this into consideration with their patients.

More research needs to be done on the subject, but it could be that men who experience some forms of sexual dysfunction are more likely to consume porn. Or it could be that men who watch a lot of IP have feelings of guilt and shame that lead to negative sexual outcomes. Or it could even be that some men who experience sexual dysfunction are looking for something to blame and IP is an easy target. 

As with so many things in life, love and sex, each person is unique. If you believe that your porn habit is becoming disruptive to your life or relationships, then it might be a good idea to take a moment and evaluate why you’re watching so much porn in the first place. However, if you find pornography to be a useful tool in your sexy-ass tool belt, then enjoy. And if you start experiencing any type of sexual dysfunction, go see your doctor. We can help you figure out exactly what’s going on – real and perceived.


References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34400111/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_addiction#:~:text=Porn%20addiction%20is%20not%20a,considered%20a%20mental%20disorder%20either.

https://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/celebrities-addicted-porn-kanye-west-joh-article-1.2542501