Porn Brain – A Leading Cause of Erectile Dysfunction

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If you thought erectile dysfunction was a disease affecting only old men in bathtubs, you’d be wrong. Increasingly, young men are developing erectile dysfunction. The use it or lose it adage for ejaculation doesn’t quite work the same way in the youngsters as it does in the older folks. Use it too much, or more specifically, rely on internet porn for sexual satisfaction and your brain won’t let your man parts partake in the real deal. Seriously, internet porn, during those critical periods of male sexual development  – adolescence through young adulthood – rewires your brain and makes real sex difficult, if not impossible.

Sex Begins in Your Head – the One Above Your Shoulders

Sex is pleasure and our brains are hardwired to seek pleasure. Every time we receive pleasure, whether it be from sex, drugs, food, or simply, a pat on the back for a job well done, the brain reward centers are activated. The neurotransmitter responsible for all things pleasurable – dopamine – is released from a tiny nucleus located deep within our primitive limbic, lizard brain called the ventral tegmental area.

Porn brain reward circuitsThat dopamine spreads out across the frontal cortex where goal directed behavior and impulse control are managed, to the nucleus accumbens where pleasure is realized, especially addictive pleasures, to the hippocampus where memory is stored and to the hypothalamus where all manner of hormones are regulated. Train your pleasure centers appropriately and you’ll have a long, happy life. Do it wrong, and all sorts problems arise (or don’t arise, as the case may be).

 

Porn Brain, Dopamine and Erectile Dysfunction

Dopamine is a very happy neurotransmitter – we need dopamine to feel pleasure. Too much dopamine and psychosis arises, too little and we have no motivation to move – literally and fundamentally cannot initiate or control movement. (Parkinson’s arises from decreased dopamine in a different region of the brain). Dopamine is necessary, and as such, our brains go to great lengths to ensure sufficient dopamine. Highly pleasurable behaviors repeated to addiction override the reward system – effectively wearing it out. Technically, it’s called desensitization, a brain state by which one needs more and more stimuli to achieve the same results. Sound familiar?

Internet porn is like heroin to our sex crazed brains.

It seems to be true guys, you can masturbate yourselves to oblivion or at least to sexlessness. The changes in brain chemistry elicited by the instant and constant stimulation of internet porn make returning to real sex passe.

If you begin this journey as a teenager when critical brain areas are still being formed, your brain will express a predilection for internet porn far and above its desire for real sex, with real humans. Viagra, Cialis or other bathtub bearing drugs don’t work for this type of erectile dysfunction. The problem isn’t in the plumbing. It’s in the brain. The short cut to sexual pleasure that was at once exciting and convenient, re-wired the sexual pleasure centers to respond only to the images on the screen. Real women or men, won’t do it for you.

Not to worry, there is help. Like any good addiction, you simply have to stop – cold turkey.  Help groups are sprouting up everywhere, really they are. Watch the video.  An interesting tidbit, the older gents who grew up on old-timey, magazine porn, return to full functioning much more quickly than the younger guys who have never ventured into the depths of real sex. That damned brain chemistry.

The Great Porn Experiment

 

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2 Comments

  1. I have to call correlation does not equal causation on this one, and find myself concerned with putting forward the idea that internet pornography must be quit cold turkey. It’s the kind of thing I hear from guilt wracked churchgoers (not from my church because Unitarian Universalists are cool like that).

    Every pleasurable experience works essentially like heroin on the brain since heroin is stimulating that natural pleasure center. The decreased reward is an intentional part of the system so that we don’t end up spending our lives repeating the same actions over and over again. We are driven to seek out novelty, new and different experiences. Sure for a while that could drive you deeper and deeper into the forest of internet pornography, but it’s just as likely to cause you to turn off your computer in frustration and seek out a more novel experience.

    None of this is to say that I believe that pornography is A-OK and does not have its issues, there are plenty of them. The one that drives me nuts is the lack of empowered women. Fantasies of all types are great, but few things are sexier than an empowered woman in charge of her sexuality who knows what she wants, and that is in short supply, although it is out there, so in this and other areas there is a desperate need to educate the young coming up with this sort of thing so they do not use internet pornography as their sex ed class. I agree with Aniko in the importance of discussing these things with our children, when of an appropriate age of course.

    However I strongly disagree with this across the board idea that pornography is bad and should be avoided altogether. Pornography can be empowering to both men and women, and can be an important part of a healthy relationship. Of course all relationships are different and whatever works works, but it can curb the natural desire to seek novelty outside of a relationship in a way that is agreeable to both partners, it can inspire new ideas to keep a couple’s love life interesting, and it can provide an outlet for a perfectly natural sex drive when couples activities are not an option, which happens all too often in this crazy fast-paced world that we have created for ourselves.

    The correct answer, in my opinion, is not to go “cold turkey” but to go healthy in ones’ use, and to be aware of the more negative aspects, and hopefully to seek to encourage more positive ones, but without jumping to conclusions in judgement.

  2. Great article! Great topic! I’m always interested in legitimate ‘sex talk’ and information. Not just for my own sexual well-being, but for my children’s as well.

    Internet porn is a relative new hazard in our society, much to be learned about its affects on the “first generation that masturbates with the left hand.” (…I thought the comment/description was hilarious….) As mothers, and fathers, we need to bring up topics like this at the dinner table – unless we’re ready to have dogs and cats for grandchildren.

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