Cart
keyboard_arrow_right
keyboard_arrow_right
keyboard_arrow_right
keyboard_arrow_right
Your cart is empty!
Oops! You have nothing here
back to blog

Masturbation, Porn and ED: What You Need to Know

Can too much masturbation cause you to develop erectile dysfunction? While this is a common belief, the overwhelming majority of scientific data shows that masturbating doesn’t produce any noticeable effects on your ability to develop and maintain an erection.

In short, masturbation doesn’t cause ED. However, some peer-reviewed studies and papers do show that there could be a potential link between watching too much porn -- something that most people do when they masturbate -- and the development of sexual dysfunction.

How strong is the link? Could it be responsible for things like performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction in younger men? Below, we’ll look at the evidence and answer some of the most common questions about porn, masturbation and erectile dysfunction.

Masturbation Doesn’t Directly Cause ED

Before we get into the effects of pornography on erectile dysfunction, it’s important to know that masturbation by itself is not directly scientifically linked to ED. Masturbating won’t damage your penis (assuming you use proper technique) and it won’t stop you from being able to perform.

The idea that masturbation by itself causes ED appears to be an old wives' tale. Masturbating also won’t make you go blind, cause you to grow hair on the palms of your hands or any of the other "100% certain" side effects that you might have also heard about.

However, the pornography aspect of masturbation and sexual dysfunction is backed up by a fair amount of scientific data indicating that excessive or unusual consumption of porn could have a negative effect on your ability to engage in normal sex.

Porn and ED: What You Need to Know

Over the last few decades, there’s been a sharp rise in the incidence rate of sexual dysfunction -- including erectile dysfunction, or ED -- amongst men under 40.

The rise has been difficult to explain through conventional means since today’s population is in good health and faces fewer sexual restrictions than any other generation.

The cause, some researchers believe, could be the widespread availability of porn thanks to the huge growth of the Internet. Porn’s limitless novelty and ease of access make it, if the research is correct, a potentially serious cause of ED for young men.

Here’s how scientists think it’s happening. Until recently, recorded rates of ED were extremely low in young, sexually active men. One study from 1999 put the rate of erectile dysfunction at just 5% in men aged 18 to 59, and a 2002 analysis put it at just 2% for men under 40.

Then, in 2011, a scientific survey of European men aged 18 to 40 recorded a 14 to 28% rate of erectile dysfunction. A year later, a Swiss study recorded an even higher 30% rate of ED in an audience of men aged 18 to 24.

Put simply, rates of ED appear to be growing rapidly amongst younger men, particularly men in their late teens, 20s and 30s.

So, what could have happened to cause such a dramatic increase in the rate of ED between the late 90s and today? A 2016 review of clinical reports notes that the rise in ED amongst younger men seems to accompanied the development of porn "tube" sites.

The theory is that easier access to porn -- and particularly a diverse, extensive variety of porn images and videos -- has changed the way many people think about sex, resulting in different tastes and expectations from regular sexual intercourse.

It’s a theory that appears to be backed up by scientific evidence. In a 2014 study, 11 out of 19 participants who compulsively used Internet porn noted that they had "experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women."

In short, watching large amounts of pornography could potentially cause a form of ED that isn’t physical in nature -- after all, the people involved in these studies are young and unlikely to be affected by heart disease, obesity or diabetes -- but psychological.

Is Porn to Blame For Erectile Dysfunction?

Right now, it’s too early to say whether or not pornography can be conclusively blamed for many cases of ED in younger men. There just isn’t enough conclusive scientific data showing it to be a direct cause of ED to list it as a culprit.

However, the existing surveys and studies create a pretty strong case that long-term use of porn could contribute not just to ED, but to a range of different sexual dysfunctions.

If you’re concerned about the effects your pornography habits could be having on your erections and sexual performance, consider taking a break from porn. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a break from masturbation -- just a break from porn videos and sexual images.

While there are no studies showing how long it takes to recover sexual performance after using porn for a long time, most porn addiction community websites (which, it should be noted, are not scientific studies or authoritative scientific sources) report "rebooting" in a few weeks or months.

Over the weeks pass, you’ll find out whether your erection issues were the result of overuse of porn, or if they’re more of a physical problem that needs to be treated differently.

Either way, there are treatment options available, ranging from changing your lifestyle to using safe and effective ED medication. Our guide to the most common ED treatments goes into more detail about the best options available for treating erectile dysfunction.

This article was reviewed by Ho Anh, MD.