Watching Too Much Porn Linked to Erectile Dysfunction in Study

Watching porn has been linked to erectile dysfunction (ED) in a study. The researchers will present their findings at the virtual European Association of Urology conference taking place between 17 to 19 July, 2020. The paper hasn't been peer-reviewed, and should therefore be viewed with caution.

The study saw 3,267 men fill out an online questionnaire about their sexual health. The researchers shared a link to the anonymous survey on social media, as well as in posters and flyers. Participants answered questions including about how often they had sex, how regularly they masturbated, and how long and often they watched porn.

Of the participants, 38 percent were aged between 16 and 25, 29 percent between 26 and 35, 22 percent between 36 and 45, and 10 percent above the age of 45. The survey showed 28 percent of respondents were single, 6 percent had been in a relationship for less than six months, 35 percent had been in a relationship for longer than six months, and 29 percent were engaged or married. Just over 1 percent were divorced or widowed.

The men watched 70 minutes of porn per week on average, ranging from 0 to 1,575 minutes. For most participants, watching sessions lasted between five to 15 minutes. Only 3 percent watched for more than one hour.

Those who watched more porn were more likely to have ED, the data revealed. However, the researchers said the men's ED is likely not only explained by watching porn and many factors could be at play.

Urologist professor Gunter de Win of the University of Antwerp, who lead the research, said in a statement that his team didn't expect to find so many men had some level of erectile dysfunction when having sex with a partner.

"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," he said.

De Win said: "Our next step in this research [is] 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."

Mieke Van Hemelrijck, a researcher of cancer epidemiology at King's College London, U.K., who co-authored a 2019 study on the global prevalence of ED but did not work on this project, told Newsweek the study is hypothesis-generating, as it only looked at the participants at one point in time and considered one variable.

Hemelrijck said the study doesn't show that porn causes ED. "However, it provides insights that can inform future clinical studies to further evaluate this potential association," she said.

"It would be of interest to find out what the underlying biological mechanisms are for this potential inverse association," Hemelrijck said.

Professor Maarten Albersen, a urologist at the University of Leuven, Belgium, who also did not work on the paper, said in a statement that the study was interesting.

He said: "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.

"The study contributes to an ongoing debate on the topic. 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."

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A stock image shows a man looking at a computer screen. Scientists have explored the potential link between erectile dysfunction and porn in a study.