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Huffington Post - Internet Porn: Exposing Misconceptions
How could I possibly have erectile dysfunction? I was only 23 and physically healthy. I went searching and found long threads of guys saying they thought porn had caused their ED. Unbelievable, but turns out it potentially had for me, too. It took me nine months to recover normal sexual function.
When people hear about porn addiction or porn causing problems, many are skeptical. However, the medical field is starting to recognize that this is actually happening, even though research has not yet caught up with reality. In fact, earlier this year the popular Dr. Oz show covered porn-induced ED. More recently, scientists at Cambridge University performed a study that found people addicted to porn show similar brain activity to alcoholics or drug addicts when exposed to cues.After realizing Internet porn use may be linked to my ED, I did a lot of reading on the subject. I came across many people claiming things about porn addiction and related dysfunctions that simply did not match reality. Here are some of the common misconceptions.
Misconception #1 -- "The only guys who get addicted to porn or have porn-induced ED have underlying issues."
I was raised with a loving family and a great support system. Never had a traumatic experience, never was abused, no history of addiction in my family. When I was 8 years old I found a Playboy magazine. This might sound crazy, but as a young boy I liked looking at naked girls (gasp).
When I was 12 my family got high-speed Internet. Immediately I was watching hardcore porn. Kids at school would share the best sites and ways to hide it. It was a normal part of teen culture. For the first time in human history kids had unlimited access to hardcore porn. I did not have issues that caused me to seek porn -- I just had access. Now, of course, some people addicted to porn have an underlying issue. But not all.
Three of my good friends have also experienced porn-related sexual dysfunctions. All were normal dudes with normal lives. We thought it was awesome looking at naked girls having sex, and we were unaware that it might have a negative physiological impact.
It took me a year to figure out why I had ED. After all, I could get it up with porn, so clearly my penis wasn't broken. It wasn't performance anxiety, because I had already had a lot of sexual experience and was not nervous. Didn't drink anything, so couldn't blame alcohol. Even got my hormones checked and the results came back fine.
In fact, I didn't believe porn could possible be linked to my ED until I did the porn-induced ED test -- where you try to get an erection without porn or any fantasy, just to your hand's touch alone. To my surprise, I could not. I was a normal, healthy, sexually-experienced and confident guy who could only get an erection to porn.
Misconception #2 -- "Guys who claim they have porn-induced ED are just not attracted to their partner."
Many guys on porn recovery forums say they are extremely attracted to their partners and find it very confusing that they cannot get aroused. I was one of those guys. I had a beautiful girl who I found very attractive, yet I could not physically feel any arousal when going for sex. Why is this important?
The partner may feel she is not attractive enough or "can't compare to the porn stars." It is very important to let these heartbroken girls know that it is not always an attraction thing, but rather a brain-wiring thing. If a guy has wired his sexual arousal to a screen and porn, it does not matter how sexy or attractive he finds his partner... he may not be able to get it up. Once I made it clear to my girlfriend that she was very attractive but my brain had just been numbed, and wired for porn, it helped her feel a lot better about waiting and less devastated when Mr. Happy looked sad.
Misconception #3 -- "People giving up porn must have a moral issue with it."
Many of the guys giving up porn have no moral objections to it and used to love everything about it, until they developed erectile dysfunction, or delayed ejaculation. When I realized I could only get a boner to a screen and not the real thing, I decided to stop watching it. The fact is that many guys have now realized that simply giving up porn has fixed their ED. For them, it is a "neural issue" and not a "moral issue."
Some popular forums for quitting porn are run by non-religious people -- including Reddit's NoFap and PornFree groups and Yourbrainrebalanced.com, which together have over 100,000 members as of now. The members, mostly under 30, are different in every way imaginable, including morals. Those with ED may eliminate the single variable of porn use and can usually recover after several months.
Now that we know why people are giving up porn, what do we do next? One thing is for sure: We need more research. But until that day gets here, my hope is that sharing my story will lead to more logical conversations and insightful dialogue about pornography and how it can affect us.
The Great Porn Experiment
Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction
Your Brain On Porn
Adolescent Brain Meets Highspeed Internet Porn
The Science of Pornography Addiction