The Truth About Whether Porn Messes With Guys' Sex Drives

Illustrated By Ly Ngo.
Porn has been blamed for a surge in sexual difficulties and dysfunctions among younger (hetero) men, but does it really deserve its bad rap? Researchers from Croatia's University of Zagreb designed an analysis to answer that question, the results of which were recently published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The researchers evaluated erectile function, ability to orgasm, and sex drive among 2,737 under-40 Croatian, Norwegian, and Portuguese men who had participated in a previous study, and they compared these markers with the men's porn-watching habits. The researchers repeated these measurements among a separate sample of 1,211 Croatian men who had also taken part in a previous study.

The only relationship between porn consumption and erectile dysfunction deemed significant was that among the Croatian men in the first of these two study groups — and this relationship was both minor and inconsistent, in that those men who reported moderate porn use were more likely to suffer from ED than Croatian men who reported "infrequent" (but not high) use. These relationships weren't found in the second study group, suggesting that "pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor" for younger men's sex drives or difficulties, as the researchers concluded.

So, while a man who has just orgasmed while watching porn may be less interested in sex than a man who has not, there's no evidence that a porn-watching habit itself leads to diminished interest in real-life sex (at least among those who aren't addicted to porn). "There are a lot of challenging things about it being young people's common source of information about how to have sex," observes Debby Herbenick, PhD, associate professor at Indiana University (and author of The Coregasm Workout), "but that doesn't mean it's responsible for ED."

Dr. Herbenick points out that among healthy young men, sexual problems are more often situation- than disorder-based, occurring, for example, "after they've been drinking, when they are nervous to be with a new partner, if the condom is too tight for them, or if they don't know or like their partner all that much." In addition, as this study's authors note, men who already have sexual difficulties may rely on porn as a way to deal with unsatisfying real-life encounters; meanwhile, stress, substance abuse, depression, and misinformation are all much more likely culprits behind sex-life struggles than an affinity for PornHub.
Advertisement