Does pornography cause sexual dysfunction?

When I was a research assistant at NYU School of Medicine, I worked on a project looking at the influence of watching pornography on sexual behavior. In clinical practice as an acupuncturist, I meet a lot of men who think that viewing pornography has negatively affected their sex life, mainly causing them to have performance anxiety leading to either premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.

Pornography is readily available online. People enjoy watching pornography. The thing is, sex in pornography isn’t the same as sex in real life.

Some ways that sex in porn is different from sex in real life:

  • 75% of men ejaculate after penetrating their partner is 3 minutes
  • the average penis length is 5 to 7 inches in real life and 6-9 inches in porn movies
  • 71% of women don’t have orgasms through penetration

These are just some examples in which watching pornography can set unrealistic expectations for sex in reality. Those mismatches can lead to anxiety and fear, which is a sure fire way to kill an erection. Another possibility is that pornography makes sex something so inhuman that it seems like a special privilege, instead of something every animal has been doing since the dawn of time. In my opinion, this leads to a kind of overwhelm that causes premature ejaculation.

For the record, I am not against people watching pornography. I think porn can be part of a healthy sex life. But I do think it’s important to keep porn in its proper place, remembering that it’s staged and super-human because that’s what sells.

Also, men need to talk to their partners! You don’t need to wait until you’re alone to explore fantasies and fetishes. That’s what your partner is for. When your sex life becomes sanitized, and all of your true desires are pushed out of the bedroom, sex loses its pleasure. Also, chances are, you’re thinking about all the things you’re not supposed to be thinking about. Another sure fire way to either lose your erection or ejaculate too soon. As long as everyone is safe and your partner is respected, there’s no reason not to let that person know what’s going on in your head.

Easier said than done, right? Right. Sharing with your partner can be anxiety provoking if you’re not used to talking openly about sex. So, yes, it is easier to go and get your fix alone through pornography and solo masturbation. Technology makes that easier than ever before. But technology also harms our sex lives because it allows us to become isolated from the people who want to be sexual beings with us.

This is what lead to Cindy Gallop’s TED Talk. It’s definitely worth your time.

So what can you do about it?
Firstly, be honest with yourself about what a fulfilling sex life is. Then talk to your partner about what you’ve decided and see where you two can meet on the subject.

Once that’s done, take a minute to breath. And keep breathing, especially during sex. The Qi needs to flow and if you’re holding your breath, you won’t be able to let that happen.

Also, take time to get out of your head. So many men I talk to have this running monologue during sex of “I’m having sex. I’m having sex. I’m having sex.” Turn your brain off and get into your body. Sex is a physical experience. Feel what your body is doing.

Sex is also like eating, it happens with your eyes as much as anything else. Look at each other. See each other. Connect through the eyes.

And when all else is done, use foreplay to your advantage. That’s lots more to sex than penetration. So get your partner close to orgasm before penetrating with your penis. Giving your partner an orgasm will build your confidence and relieve the pressure, anxiety and fear that may perpetuate premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction issues.

And a final note… if you’re an man under 50, and you’re having erectile dysfunction problems, be sure to talk to your doctor. The penis and the heart are connected, in more ways the one, so you want to rule out any circulatory system issues that may be underlying the ED.

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