main article image
Shutterstock/Guryanov Andrey

Watching Porn May Boost a Man's Performance in Bed

MYLES GOUGH
18 MAR 2015

It’s hard to argue that pornography, especially the hardcore stuff, is healthy viewing for men. It objectifies women and it perpetuates myths about how sex actually goes down in the real world, where not every guy is hung like an argentine duck or has the sexual stamina of an olympic triathlete.

But there’s an amazing, epic, and obscene (pun intended) amount of free porn online, so inevitably, people will indulge. The question is, aside from the social stigma of watching these sex films, are there any real physical repercussions?

There has been a lot of speculation that over-exposure to porn can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). The basic argument is this: men get desensitised, or come to expect way more variety in the sack than most monogamous relationships offer, and therefore, can't get it up.

But a recent study, focussed exclusively on men and published in the online journal Sexual Medicine, says porno viewing is unlikely to hinder someone's ability to have an enduring erection, and suggests that men who regularly watch porn may actually perform better in bed, becuase they enjoy greater desire and arousal with their partners.

The researchers from Concordia University in Canada and UCLA in the US, say their study is the first to actually test the relationship between how much porn men are watching and the likelihood that they’ll experience erectile dysfunction. 

“The study shows that if there is erectile dysfunction in a relationship, it’s probably not the porn that’s causing it — it’s more likely the quality of the sex,” Neurobiologist Jim Pfaus from Concordia University told Karen Seidman at The Montreal Gazette.  

“This shows that all the dire predictions about porn addiction leading to erectile dysfunction aren’t necessarily true,” he added.

Pfaus, along with his co-author Nicole Prause from UCLA, analysed data collected from 280 male volunteers during previous studies in Prause’s lab. Of the 280 volunteers, 127 had regular sex partners.

The men were questioned about their sexual behaviour, both with partners and flying solo, about their porn viewing habits, and about their erectile functioning. The men, who regularly watched between zero and 25 hours of porn per week, were all shown a vanilla porn film, referred to as visual sexual stimuli (VSS), in the lab and asked to measure their arousal levels.

Men who watch more porno in their daily lives reported feeling more aroused during the lab viewing, as well as feeling higher levels of desire for both partnered sex and masturbation. Furthermore, “self-reported erectile functioning with a partner was not related to the hours of VSS viewed weekly,” the team wrote.

“Viewing more sex films was associated with a stronger sex drive, including the desire to have sex with a partner, so sex films may be able to 'stoke the fire’,” Prause told The Huffington Post.

While the researcher acknowledged that some men might simply have higher sex drives, they’re adamant that porn doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it’s received, and list in their conclusion a number of positive effects that regular porn viewing (or VSS) can have on a man’s sex drive.

For instance, they say “regular VSS use may prime sexual thoughts and, hence, sexual response… VSS may suggest or normalise sexual behaviors, providing a wider repertoire of stimuli for which men may experience desire. Finally, VSS use has been associated with more positive attitudes about sex. If this is causal from VSS use, VSS use might be reducing some anxieties about sexual interactions that are a common cause of erectile problems."

In other words, porn, rather than limiting your erectile function, could have just the opposite effect. The researchers say "erectile dysfunction is most likely caused by the same issues that have been known for some time, such as performance anxiety, poor cardiovascular health, or side-effects from substance abuse."

The study has already garnered some criticism from an online forum called Reboot Nation, which is essentially a community of anti-porn activists. They say the study doesn’t adequately investigate men who have complained of erectile dysfunction or people who have developed serious addictions, and is flawed because it doesn’t “assess actual erections”. Meaning, the researchers haven't done a thorough inspection of the men's penises to back-up their self-reported claims of good showing.  

Still, the issue of porn addiction is an interesting one. In a previous study, researchers at Cambridge University showed that the activity in the brains of people claiming to be porn addicts resembles some of the activity happening in the brains of drug addicts, which is somewhat alarming.

For a refresher on the science of pornography addiction check out the below ASAP Science video.

Sources: The Montreal Gazette, The Huffington Post