Article from 16X9 globalnews.ca
In the News: Young and Impotent – 16x9 Looks at Growing Trend in Men’s Health
In 1998, Judy Garland’s classic song “Good Morning” made a comeback as the catchy, upbeat soundtrack to Viagra’s breakout ad campaign. At the time, it was seen as a miracle cure for erectile dysfunction, and had older men dancing in the streets.
But now, 16 years later, a generation of young men are seeking out that magic blue pill.
Gabe Deem, from Irving, Texas is one of them.
Three years ago, only 23 years old and already suffering from erectile dysfunction, Deem sought out Viagra and Cialis. Deem said years of watching internet pornography left him with a condition known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED.
“I would get out of middle school and come home as fast as I could, and watch porn – look up whatever I could for about three or four hours before my parents got home from work,” he said. “I was watching every type of porn that you could think of by the time I was out of middle school.”
Deem never realized his porn habit was a problem until it began to affect his sexual health. “I was 23 years old, I was with a gorgeous girl who I found extremely attractive, we went for sex and nothing happened. I couldn’t get turned on at all,” said Deem. “I freaked out.”
Seeking out erectile dysfunction medications, Deem hoped he could find a quick fix for his problem. “I took Viagra and I took Cialis and it didn’t have any effect on me. And that’s because…your problem is in the brain not below the belt,” he said.
Deem went online to look for help and soon realized PIED affects a huge number of young men who, like him, grew up in the internet age with unfettered access to pornography. What he found was thousands of men writing in online forums, such as http://www.reddit.com/r/nofap, or “YourBrainRebalanced.com” about their sexual dysfunction.
“I’m worried, I’m worried about the impact of porn on men and on women,” said Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, Urologist and Director of Men’s Health Boston.
WATCH BELOW: Dr. Abraham Morgentaler tells 16×9 about the young men he sees and a prop he uses to help male patients talk about their medical issues below the belt.
“I see young men coming in who are really confused about what normal is because all they know about sex is what they’ve seen on porn,” he said. Morgentaler spoke to 16×9 correspondent Sean O’Shea about the changing culture of sexuality and dating.
“Once upon a time in the Victorian age when women wore long gowns…it was considered to be really sexy when a man saw a turn of an ankle. That was enough for men to go and write sonnets and all of these other things. Then, we went through the mini-skirt phase in the 60s and all that and we talked about, this is the apocalypse is coming, and oh my God this is so sexualized,” he said.
“Now we have it where everybody’s got a computer or even a smart phone and you’re on the internet you can see whatever you want,” he said. “There’s no surprises…I think that the concern is, what porn has figured out is what really works for the brain of the guys. It’s the maximum stimulus,” said Morgentaler.
That “maximum stimulus” is what guys talk about most online. Having access to watch whatever you want, whenever you want, causes changes in the way a man’s body responds to dopamine levels. Emerging research out of Cambridge University revealed that the brains of men who watch excessive amounts of online pornography appear similar to those of alcoholics and drugs addicts.
Deem believes his sexual dysfunction was definitely caused by addiction to online pornography that left him unstimulated by real sex.
But there is a way back. For Deem, it was a long, sometimes agonizing nine-month process – a process that’s called “rebooting”.
“When a porn addict goes through withdrawal it’s typically stress, anxiety-related, so two to three weeks after I gave up porn my stress went through the roof and I became real anxious, irritated, I couldn’t focus on anything…I even had insomnia where I couldn’t sleep,” said Deem.
Deem cut out porn and masturbation completely and focused on keeping busy and physically active. At times he wondered if he would ever recover, but he pressed on. “I kept on rebooting is what we call it when we cut off porn and try and reboot our brains so to say, basically regain sensitivity,” he said.
WATCH BELOW: Gabe Deem didn’t realize how bad his porn addiction was until one day he discovered his body was failing him at the most basic level. Here, Gabe shares his story with 16×9.
Finally, he did.
“To know that I was able to be cured was a huge relief,” said Deem. “I can’t really even describe the feeling.”
Deem recently launched a blog with videos, a forum, and tips and information on how to reboot.
“I get messages pretty regularly from guys who are freaking out, some of them are suicidal…they’re not getting the answers they need,” said Deem. “They’ll go to the doctor and go ‘doc I can’t get an erection’ and they’ll slap them a pack of Viagra and say don’t worry about it, it’s all in your head, it’s performance anxiety.”
Deem said his website fills a need for guys to talk anonymously and openly about their issue and hopefully find reassurance they can regain a normal and healthy sexuality, without turning to Viagra as an attempt at a quick fix.
“I think it’s slapping a bandaid on a wound that’s deeper than that…I really think it’s not focusing on the core issue,” said Deem. “The bottom line is young 20-year-old men or teenagers shouldn’t be taking sexual enhancement pills. They should naturally be good to go if you’re young and healthy.”